Girl next door: You are most likely to meet and be attracted to or attract; people within your geographic and time range. Most people meet through: 1) Friends (1/3), School, Family and Religious Events.

  • Repeated contact increases a person’s “liking” (Saegert et al) Mere-Exposure Effect; repeated exposure to stimuli increases our liking for that stimuli.

Bird of a feather: we tend to like people who are similar to us. (usually of same age, background, economic, education and social status).

  • Homophily: have contact with people of equal social status. Greatly homophily is shown in race, then education, then age.
  • All forms of relationships show similar levels of homophily; 54% want same education level, 46% want same religious views; 34% want same background.
  • Donn Byrne (1971) showed we have more liking for those with similar opinions/attitudes to us. Questionnaire example. More satisfied someone is in their relationship, the more they assume their partner is like them (Morry, 2007)
  • Matching Phenomenon: tendency for men and women to choose partners who are of similar attitudes, intelligence, and attractiveness
  • “Opposites attract” tends to lead to people disliking each other. However sometimes dominant vs. Submissive partners work well together
  • (Luo & Klohnen, 2005) Real couples are more similar on values, religiosity, political attitudes; BUT NOT on personality.
  • Similarity in attachment styles were associated with marital satisfaction but attitudes were not.

Physical Attractiveness: (Hendrick 1992) when given the choice of many partners, individuals will pick the most attractive one a majority of the time.

  • Individuals judged photos of men and women; examined dating history to determine how attractive they were
  • Women who were attractive has more dates; STRONG correlation; in men the relationship was less contrast.
  • (Regan, 2004) young men and women rate sexual attraction as the most important
  • In African studies; light skin was shown to be most sexually attractive
  • (Feingold, 1990) physical attractiveness is more important to men than women

Most of the time, the standards we have for partners is based on what we feel that we have to “offer or buy” from the relationship market place.

Attractive women pairing with wealthy, successful men.  More attractive women, want more successful and higher social status men; less attractive women will settle for less.

Men and women with similar questionnaires responses and found each other more attractive were more likely to remember each other’s names and request a second date.

Many people are using online dating services; thought to help people focus on similar interests/ views. However individuals that started online relationships had lower relational intimacy than those who are in relationships that stated face-to-face.

¼ of Canadians misrepresent themselves online

Different online sites will use different matching strategies; questionnaires! 2/3 of people who meet online will meet in person and ¼ of them will date; only 3% marry.

Why do women’s emphasis on a man’s social status and men on woman’s attractiveness?

Reinforcement Theory; Byrne’s Law of attraction

  • Attraction or other person is based on # of reinforcements vs. Punishments.
  • We want more attractive partners to boost our self-worth and wealthy partners to buy material goods

Sociobiology: Sexual Strategies Theory

  • Reproduction capability was primary role in male vs. Female pair bonding
  • More attractive person is assumed to be in better health and more fertile (controversial)
  • Physical attractiveness was more important in cultures where pathogen were prevalent
  • Women want wealthy males to invest resources in them/ offspring and good-looking men


Def’n: quality of relationships characterized by commitment, feelings of closeness and true; and self-disclosure. [closeness/sharing is defined as cognitive, affective, and physical; MUST be reciprocal but not equal]

Self-Disclosure: telling personal things about yourself to your partner. Self-disclosure by one partners help promote it in the other partner (promote trust, due to mimicry, and to maintain equality)

  • Closely linked to relationship satisfaction (greater self-disclosure usually leads to a longer relationship)
  • However intimacy may eventually plateau or be pulled back (i.e if cheated on)
  • Different scales are used by psychologists to assess the level of intimacy in relationships (i.e PAIR- Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships)
  • Intimacy is increased by self-disclosure by both parties.


Sex is love? Love without sex?

The Triangular Theory of Love (Sternberg): Intimacy (emotional closeness), Passion (sexual attraction/ sexual expression), and Decision/ commitment (decision to be in love and maintain the relationship)

  • People who show similar levels of each dimension of the triangle are better matches and want the same things in the relationship. Used STLS to assess his theory.

Attachment Theory of Love: Adults in romantic relationships are characterized by different attachment styles, based on our perceptions of ourselves as well as our expectation of how other will respond to us:

Model of self
POSITIVE SECURE: comfortable with intimacy and autonomy (49%)

Will have/express jealousy to partner

PREOCCUPIED: Preoccupied with other relationships (12%)

Will have/ not express jealousy to partner

NEGATIVE DISMISSING: Dismissing of intimacy (18%)

Will have/express jealousy to third party

FEARFUL: Fearful of intimacy; socially avoidance (21%)

Will have/express jealousy to third party

1)      Secure lovers (+/+): have sense of own lovability- that is accepted by other people

2)      Preoccupied lovers (-/+): aware of own unlovability- positive evaluation of others.

3)      Dismissing (+/-): feel worthy of love; but avoid it to avoid being hurt and maintain sense of independence

4)      Fearful (-/-): depend on other for their loveability.

  • *attachment styles can be dynamic and vary in different types of relationships
  • Different attachment types may have difficulties in relationship with each other
  • Women with insecure attachment type are more likely to engage in sexual behaviour more often and earlier

Love story theory:

A story about what love should be like for us; including characters, plot, themes. The person who fits our “love story” will most likely become an enduring partner; despite arguments or how “good/bad” the relationship appears. Our love stories are built through tv, culture and we form a hierarchy of love stories based on appeal. Love stories are self-confirming and very difficult to change.

JEALOUSLY: cognitive, emotional and behavioural response to a threat to an interpersonal relationship. Person must perceive the stimulus as a threat to their relationship

  • Emotional: partner is emotionally attached to someone else
  • Sexual: partner wants to engage in sexual intimacy with another
  • Two things activate jealousy: 1) threat to our self-esteem (our partner showing interests in others makes us feel less attractive or fun. 2) threat to the relationship (lose of mate to a potentially superior rival; lose of sex and companionship)
  • Stage of jealousy: 1) cognitive: appraisal of the stimulus to cause jealousy 2) emotional: Stress response (aka jealousy flash) & then reappraisal stage (aka how to cope with it) 3) physical response: either communication, fixing the problem, aggression, depression etc. Depends on attachment style.

Biology of Passionate Love Theory

Passionate Love: A state of intense longing union with the other person and of physiological arousal. Made up of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural. People experiencing passionate love tend of overestimate the strength and how long their relationship will last. Passionate “illusions” about their relationship will make it appear more ideal.

Companionate Love: feeling of deep attachment and commitment to a person with whom one has an intimate relationship.

Most relationships will have passion and then shift into companionate love; (after 6-30months) b

Evolutionary: desire to mate, mating, parenting.

  • Dopamine: enhances euphoria/ craving
  • Prolactin: follow orgasms
  • Oxytocin: contribute to long term relationships; important role in pair-bonding in animals. Increases from touch, orgasm, men who were administered high levels of it were more likely to take risks

Measure Love

It is important to operational define all of these terms and their testability.

Love and Adrenaline

Two-component Theory of love: two conditions must exist simultaneously for passionate love to occur; physiological arousal and attaching a cognitive label of love. Misattribution of arousal: misattribute their arousal- exercise/ fear of bridge; to their liking of attractive women.

Cross-Cultural Research

Individualistic Collectivist
  • Canada, USA,, Western Europe etc.
  • Emphasizes on passionate love for basis of marriage
  • Physical attractiveness, similarity, wealth and social status
  • Intimacy
  • Rated intelligence, kindness, and understanding at top of list
  • Women want resources, Men want attractive mates
  • Physical attractiveness rating among whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians did not differ significantly
  • Love is a prerequisite for marriage even if the partner posses all the desired assets and resources.
  • India, China, Africa etc.
  • Most marriages are arranged; union of families
  • Find intimacy in new family relationships
  • View love as friendship & companionate
  • Rated intelligence, kindness, and understanding at top of list
  • Women want resources, Men want attractive mates
  • Physical attractiveness rating among whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians did not differ significantly
  • Love is not necessarily a prerequisite for marriage if the partner posses all the desired assets and resources.


Hetero, homo or bi do not differ in relationships issues or the effect that it has on their relationship

Problem: communication studies are ALL correlational; can’t provide conclusive results.

People in problematic communication relationships aren’t weaker at communication but rather using their communication skills combatively/ as a weapon instead of to help resolve the issue.

Gottman (1994) identified 4 types of destruction interactions:

1) Criticism: attacking partner’s characteristics/ personality

2) Contempt: intentionally insulting or orally abusing the other person

3) Defensiveness: denying reasonability

4) Withdrawal: response to complaints were to turn on TV or leave the room

Sexual Self-Disclosure: Telling your personal sexual things about yourself like sexual likes/ dislikes. A majority of couples can discuss. People often share sexual self-disclosure but not all of it. However by one partner doing so it can prompt more disclosure by the other. By sharing you: 1) increase intimacy 2) increase sexual pleasure

Being an effective communicator

Important to make a distinction between intent: what the speaker means and impact: what someone else understand the speaker to mean

Effective communicator can match intent with impact

All couples fight. Best way to communicate is via “I language”; help to facilitate resolution “I feel…., I don’t like..” stop your partner from becoming defensive.

Minding Reading: making assumption about what your partner is thinking or feels. Problem is, the person may be wrong and this will only promote conflict.

Documenting: another important component of giving good message; you giving specific examples of the issue.

Often limiting choices (i.e want to talk about it now or later?) forces your partner to have to communicate with you.

Leveling: Telling your partner what you are feeling by stating your thoughts clearly, simply and honestly.

  1. Be clear
  2. Clear up what partners should expect
  3. Clear up what is pleasant and unpleasant
  4. Clear up what is relevant or irrelevant
  5. Notice things that draw you closer or further apart

Editing: Censoring or not saying things that would be deliberately hurtful to your partner or that are irrelevant.

Listening: be a non-defensive listener: focus on what your partner is saying and feeling and don’t immediately become defensive, or counterattack with complains of your own. Try to paraphrase and get feedback as well.

Non-verbal communication: communication not through words, but through the body (e.g eye contact, tone of voice, touching)

Validating: telling your partner that, giving her point of view, you can see why he or she thinks a certain way.

Drawing out your partner: Checking out assumption rather than mind-reading to help fix a problem.

Accentuate the positive: Express things that make you happy, tell your partner when they do things to make your happy. 5:1 Magic Ratio of positive to negative verbal/ non-verbal behaviour.

Fight Fair. Set of rules designed to make argument constructive rather than destructive.

  1. Edit what you say.
  2. Don’t bring up names of former partners, lovers, boyfriends, etc. Stick to your relationship
  3. Don’t play amateur psychologist
  4. Don’t engage in dumping. Store up six months of complements and dumping on your partners all at once
  5. Don’t hit and run. Don’t bring up a serious negative issue with no chance continue and fix it
  6. Don’t focus on who’s to blame. Focus on a solution.

Both men and women were more likely to engage in the use of non-verbal sexual cues. When given ambiguous we should check meaning.

Communication among genders. Gender differences in communication are relatively small and both parties regardless of gender should be able to communicate their feelings/ problems.

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