Why should scientists study love? Because, as social psychologist Dr. Art Aron explains in the video below, it's central to our health and happiness. Dr. Aron talks not only about why love is a worthwhile area of scientific inquiry, but also how he started studying love in the first place and some of the most fascinating things he has discovered by researching this topic.Read More
I shared an article on Twitter the other day about the prevalence of infidelity, which prompted a response from my pal Dan Savage about how cheating is associated with the length of a relationship. Basically, he wanted to know whether cheating is more or less common when you look at couples that have been together for a very long time. This is an interesting question and one that I’ve actually never been asked before, so I did some digging and here’s what I found. It turned out to be a pretty interesting story.Read More
Food and romance are intimately intertwined in modern dating rituals. Indeed, restaurants are one of the most popular places people visit when they go on a date. Neuroscience research suggests that there might be a very good reason for this: having a full stomach just might make our brains more sensitive to romantic cues.Read More
People who are into bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (or BDSM for short) experience a lot of stigma. For one thing, they are often seen as psychologically disturbed, despite research showing that BDSM practitioners appear to be just as psychologically healthy as everyone else. For another, many people—including a lot of mental health professionals—question whether you can practice BDSM and still have a healthy relationship. In fact, in one survey of therapists, fully one-third of them reported being unsure of whether someone into BDSM could carry on a functional relationship .Read More
There’s a common assumption that monogamous relationships are superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships in virtually all ways. In fact, studies have found that monogamous relationships are thought to be better in terms of promoting closeness, trust, intimacy, companionship, and communication . However, the presumed benefits don’t stop there—monogamous relationships are assumed to be more sexually satisfying, too, because it’s presumed that people who open their relationships are only doing so because they’re unhappy in some way.
So is it really the case that monogamists necessarily have better sex lives and relationships overall compared to those who are in consensually non-monogamous relationships? Do the stereotypes reflect reality? Let’s take a look at the research.Read More
There’s a lot of research out there looking at how many people have cheated, their reasons for cheating, and what “counts” as cheating; however, surprisingly little work has looked at who people are actually having sex with when they commit infidelity. Is it usually with someone they know, or with a stranger? And does this differ for men and women? A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some answers.Read More
Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.Read More
It’s easy to find articles in the popular media talking about how porn ruins relationships. Many scientific studies have made this claim, too. However, there’s a problematic assumption embedded in most of these writings, which is that porn affects all people the same way. That’s not a very good assumption to make.
When it comes to something like porn, different people are going to be affected by it in different ways because of their unique psychological profile. Some of us are predisposed to view porn (and its effects) in a negative light, whereas others are predisposed to view it in a positive light. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers support for this nuanced view of the effects of porn on relationships.Read More
What keeps passion alive in a long-term relationship? According to a recent study of nearly 40,000 adults (all of whom were heterosexual and currently in romantic relationships), there were five key differences between people who said they were able to keep the passion going and those who weren’t. People who kept the spark alive were more likely to (1) spend time setting the mood, (2) practice sexual communication, (3) receive oral sex, (4) be happier with their relationship in general, and (5) engage in more acts of sexual variety.
While there’s a lot to be said about each of these factors, I want to focus on just one of them in this post—the role of sexual variety.Read More
A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research identified eight distinct motivations people can have for cheating (read all about those motives here). Beyond simply demonstrating the factors that motivate cheating, however, this study also examined how our personality, gender, and attachment style are linked to our reasons for committing infidelity. Here’s a quick review of the key findings.Read More
Studies have found that people overwhelmingly rate monogamous relationships as superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships on virtually every dimension you can think of . For example, monogamy is seen as promoting better relationship quality in terms of enhancing intimacy, safety, honesty, and communication. Even on qualities that have nothing to do with relationship functioning, such as paying taxes on time and taking a daily multi-vitamin, monogamy is seen as better for promoting them. Do people’s perceptions match up with reality, though? Are people in monogamous relationships necessarily much better off?Read More
What “counts” as cheating on a romantic partner? It depends who you ask. Research finds that people define infidelity in very different ways. However, there are some things that people seem to agree on more than others.
For example, people largely agree that having sexual intercourse with someone who isn’t your partner is a form of cheating (assuming, of course, that you agreed to be monogamous with that partner). The same goes for taking a shower with another person or sending them naked photos. But what about just watching porn by yourself? Do people typically categorize that as a form of infidelity? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into this question.Read More
Research consistently finds that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 married persons in the United States has committed infidelity . Rates of infidelity in dating relationships are even higher. Why are so many people cheating? Surprisingly little research has explored the motivations behind infidelity; fortunately, however, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some valuable insight .Read More
With Valentine’s Day upon us, many folks have love on the brain—so let’s talk about the science of love! In the video below, I've compiled five of the most fascinating things researchers have found by studying loving relationships. Enjoy!Read More
There's a common tendency to assume that when someone in a relationship cheats, they're doing it because the relationship is broken; however, this isn't necessarily true. People who are perfectly happy with their partner and their relationship cheat sometimes, too. So why is that?Read More
A lot of people claim to have had experiences with the phenomenon of “love at first sight.” But is it really possible to fall in love with someone instantaneously? Believe it or not, social scientists really haven’t bothered to test this idea until now. A new set of studies published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people who report having fallen in love at first sight probably weren’t actually in love. Truth be told, they were probably in lust instead.Read More
One of the most common stereotypes about straight men’s same-sex friendships is that they’re lacking in emotional depth. Their friendships are seen as revolving around shared activities like watching football or going hunting and fishing—not sitting around and talking about their feelings. Though extremely popular, a new study suggests that this characterization is inaccurate, at least among younger guys today.Read More
The busiest time of year for online dating is the nearly two-month stretch that runs from the day after Christmas through Valentine’s Day. It reaches its peak on the Sunday after New Year’s Day, or “Dating Sunday” as it’s known by those who work in the romance industry, which is consistently the single biggest day of the year for new online dating signups.
So why is that? What’s going on in the first few months of winter that makes people want to couple-up?Read More
What does it mean to be in a monogamous relationship? It depends who you ask. In the modern world, it has become increasingly difficult to define “monogamy” in any kind of universally agreed upon way. Just think about it: what “counts” as infidelity to you? For example, does sexting someone other than your romantic partner constitute cheating? What about using an interactive pornography site?
It turns out that different people answer these questions in very different ways.Read More
Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner .
However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication .Read More