Happy Couples Use This Defence Mechanism To Stay Faithful

This unconscious process is one of the secrets that helps happy couples stay faithful.

This unconscious process is one of the secrets that helps happy couples stay faithful.

People in relationships automatically see tempting others as less attractive, research finds.

The more satisfied people are with their relationship, the more they downgrade attractive others.

The unconscious process may help couples stay faithful to each other.

Dr Shana Cole, the study’s first author, said:

“Misperceiving attractive people who represent threats to the relationship as less attractive may help people resist the inclination to pursue them.

This is especially important since finding someone physically attractive is a primary reason why people choose to date or romantically pursue someone.”

A healthy defence mechanism

The research on 131 heterosexual couples showed them various pictures of the opposite sex manipulated to be more or less attractive.

Sometimes study participants were told they were single, other times that they were in a relationship.

When told the person in the profile was single, people in relationships downgraded their attractiveness.

They did this automatically as a defensive mechanism to protect their own relationship.

When told the person in the profile was in a relationship, though, the defensive mechanism did not operate.

In contrast, those not in relationships were unaffected by the relationship status of the profile.

Dr Emily Balcetis, one of the study’s co-authors, said:

“In today’s world, it can be difficult to stick it out with one long-term partner.

This work suggests that there are processes that may take place outside of conscious awareness to make it easier to stay committed to one’s own partner.”

Dr Cole said:

“There are still several questions that are left open.

Future research could see whether perceiving intriguing and available individuals as less attractive affects behavior toward the individual.

It’s possible that if we see tempting others as unattractive, we will flirt less with them or be more reluctant to give out our phone number.”

How to stay faithful

Here are some other strategies that may help couples stay faithful:

  1. Communicating openly and honestly with each other about feelings, needs, and boundaries.
  2. Building and maintaining trust through consistency and transparency.
  3. Prioritizing the relationship and making an effort to spend quality time together.
  4. Being committed to working through challenges and conflicts.
  5. Practicing healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, rather than turning to infidelity as a solution.
  6. Being respectful of each other’s boundaries and independence.
  7. Fostering a sense of emotional and physical intimacy in the relationship.

→ Related articles:

The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Cole et al., 2016).

4 Simple Signs That You Will Stay With Your Partner

Look for these signs of a successful relationship.

Look for these signs of a successful relationship.

Being ‘ready for commitment’ is a clear sign of relationship success, research finds.

Being ready for commitment makes people do the work required to keep a relationship going.

Those who are ‘commitment ready’ are 25 percent less likely to break up over time.

Four common signs of commitment include:

  1. Your partner makes sacrifices for you, such as changing their schedule, doing thing you like but they don’t and really listening to your problems.
  2. Making long-term plans for the future that include you both.
  3. You both have similar perceptions about the relationship, as do your friends and family.
  4. Real commitments are things that you do. Commitment is usually obvious — watch their behaviour.

Professor Chris Agnew, the study’s first author, said:

“Feeling ready leads to better relational outcomes and well-being.

When a person feels more ready, this tends to amplify the effect of psychological commitment on relationship maintenance and stability.”

The conclusions come from a study of over 400 adults in relationships.

All were asked about their sense of whether this was the right time for a relationship, how satisfied they were with it and how much investment they had made.

The results showed that readiness was strongly linked to commitment.

In other words, people tended to commit to a relationship when they felt ready for it.

However, when they didn’t feel ready, they did not do the work required to keep the relationship alive.

Professor Agnew said:

“People’s life history, relationship history, and personal preferences all play a role.

One’s culture also transmits messages that may signal that one is more or less ready to commit.”

The study will be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (Agnew et al., 2019).

Attachment Styles: Secure, Avoidant, Anxious And Ambivalent

Attachment styles are important because we are social animals, relying heavily on our ability to form relationships with others.

Attachment styles are important because we are social animals, relying heavily on our ability to form relationships with others.

Attachment styles analyse how people respond to threats and problems in their personal relationships.

People who find relationships difficult often become unable to participate in the ordinary give-and-take of everyday life.

They may become hostile towards others, have problems in education as well as a greater chance of developing psychiatric disorders later in life.

These difficulties sometimes have their roots in the most important early relationships, evidenced in attachment styles.

It’s no wonder that child psychologists are so interested in the first relationships we build with our primary caregivers.

These attachment styles are likely to prove a vital influence on all our future relationships, including those with our spouse, our workmates and our own children.

While you can’t blame everything on your parents, early relationship attachment styles are like a template that we take forward with us in life.

Measuring attachment styles

So the development of early relationships – often called ‘attachment styles’ – is extremely important.

Naturally child psychologists realised it would be extremely useful to know how well attached children are to their parents.

But here’s the problem: how do you measure attachment styles?

Infants of eight months old tend not to say very much of any use and parents can’t be trusted.

Clearly psychologists needed to observe the caregiver and baby interacting.

It was well-known child psychologist Mary Ainsworth and colleagues who came up with what has now become standard procedure for investigating the emotional attachment styles between children and caregivers (Ainsworth et al., 1978).

Some have argued that this is the most powerful experiment for studying a child’s social and emotional development.

Ainsworth’s strange situation

Ainsworth based her test of attachment styles on fear, one of the most basic human emotions.

As the baby becomes attached to its caregivers, after about six months, it starts to display fear in two easily repeatable situations:

  • Stranger anxiety: some time after six months of age children usually start to become scared of strangers. This is particularly pronounced when their caregiver is absent.
  • Separation protest: from around the same time, at about six months, children also start to get upset when their caregiver leaves them.

To investigate how infants and their caregivers interact Ainsworth devised a series of interactions which were designed to test how the baby reacted to both stranger anxiety and separation anxiety.

The procedure is like a carefully choreographed ballet, each act lasting about 3 minutes:

  1. Caregiver and infant are placed in the experimental room by the experimenter, who then leaves.
  2. Caregiver does nothing while the infant explores.
  3. A stranger enters, saying nothing for 1 minute, then starts talking to the caregiver. Then, after a further minute, the stranger approaches the infant.
  4. Caregiver then leaves as discreetly as possible so that the stranger and the infant are left alone together.
  5. Caregiver then returns to comfort the infant, then leaves again.
  6. Infant is left all alone.
  7. Stranger enters and begins to interact with the infant.
  8. Caregiver returns and the stranger leaves.

As you can see the strange situation is designed to get more strange for the infant as it goes on.

For a start the infant is in an unfamiliar room, then a stranger enters, then the stranger starts trying to talk to them, then their caregiver is nowhere to be seen.

Each time the stress on the infant is ramped up.

The attachment styles

Analysing the results after repeating the experiment with many infants, Ainsworth discovered a fascinating pattern in the data.

It turned out that the most interesting aspect of the interactions observed was how the baby reacted when the caregiver returned.

This analysis of the infant’s reaction to the mother’s return led to a distinction between three separate types of attachment, one of the ‘good kind’ and two so-called ‘disordered attachment styles’.

1. Secure attachment style

Infants considered securely attached will be reasonable upset when their caregiver leaves but will be happy to see them return and will be quickly soothed.

Extensive research has found that around 70 percent of infants fall into this category.

2. Avoidant attachment (insecure attachment)

Infants with this attachment style show little interest in their caregivers, although they will cry when they leave the room.

Strangely, though, they don’t seem that pleased when their caregivers return, often turning their backs on them and trying to get away.

Around 20 percent of infants fall into this category.

3. Ambivalent attachment (insecure attachment)

Infants with this attachment style initially don’t want to leave their caregiver to explore the room.

Then, like the insecure/avoidant, they cry when their caregiver leaves but then when they return seem to want to be consoled, but resist it.

They seem angry.

About 10 percent of infants fall into this category.

4. Disorganised attachment (insecure attachment)

Later research also identified a further insecure attachment style of disorganised attachment.

These infants don’t show much of a pattern: they seem constantly afraid of and confused by their caregiver.

The stress is often too much for the infant.

This type of attachment style has been associated with depressed caregivers or instances of child abuse.

Causes of attachment styles

An enormous amount of research on attachment styles has gone into examining what factors cause infants to be attached in these different ways.

Much emphasis has been placed on the way the caregiver treats the infant.

Secure attachment styles have been associated with caregivers being (Papalia & Olds, 1997):

  • Sensitive and responsive.
  • Encouraging of mutual interaction.
  • Warm and accepting.

Clearly the reverse of these tends to result in insecure attachment styles.

Some research has also found that the infant’s temperament (personality) is also an important factor in attachment styles.

Consequences of attachment styles

Many researchers have argued that attachment styles have important social, emotional and cognitive consequences.

Some have argued that the more positive an infant’s early attachments are, the more likely it is to successfully separate from the caregiver later in life.

Other benefits of secure attachment styles include (Papalia & Olds, 1997):

  • More self-confidence.
  • More friends.
  • Better adult relationships.

Meanwhile insecurely attached children tend to:

  • Display more negative emotions.
  • Have behaviour problems.
  • Be hostile towards other children.

Attachment styles are a window to the future

Critics of the ‘strange situation’ have argued that it is just too strange.

For example:

  • Why would caregivers specifically resist interacting with their infant?
  • Can infants really keep track of all these comings and goings during the study?
  • Is it valid in different cultures?

Despite these criticisms the ‘strange situation’ has fared relatively well in answer to many of these questions.

It provides a standardised way of examining the very earliest relationships we form with our caregivers.

It is a way of revealing the answers infants have arrived at to four major questions their social and emotional selves are asking:

  1. How do I have good relationships with other people?
  2. What happens when I explore my environment?
  3. What can I achieve?
  4. What do others do when I show that I’m unhappy?

It’s infant’s attachment styles that give us a clue to what answers they’ve formulated to these questions and so a window on both their past and their future.

→ This article is part of a series on 10 crucial developmental psychology studies:

  1. When infant memory develops
  2. How self-concept emerges in infants
  3. How children learn new concepts
  4. The importance of attachment styles
  5. When infants learn to imitate others
  6. Theory of mind reveals the social world
  7. Understanding object permanence
  8. How infants learn their first word
  9. The six types of play
  10. Piaget’s stages of development theory


Pick Up Lines: The Best Type For Men And Women

Men’s choice of pick up lines may help quickly select for women with particular personalities.

Men’s choice of pick up lines may help quickly select for women with particular personalities.

When it comes to the human mating game, men are often portrayed as having little power or guile.

Research finds it is women that control early interactions, from first signalling the man to approach to deciding whether to engage in sex.

One area in which men are popularly seen as especially inept is in their choice of pick up lines.

Leading the field in crass openings are sexually-loaded remarks.

Indeed, a study by Chris Bale from the University of Central Lancashire found that sexually-loaded remarks were the type of openers least likely to lead to further interaction (Bale, 2006).

Which begs the question: why do men still use them?

Pick up lines as selection tool

An ingeniously simple answer is suggested by both Bale (2006) and Cooper et al (2007), with some evidence to back it up.

Pick up lines may be a way for men to select for a particular type of woman.

In other words, men using sexually-loaded remarks are looking for a certain type of woman.

Similarly, at the other end of the scale, men who use character-revealing or culture-based pick up lines are probably trying to show they are a good mate looking for a long-term partner.

That’s the theory and here’s how Cooper and colleagues searched for evidence.

The study first asked participants to consider a series of scenarios in which men tried to strike up a conversation with a woman.

In each the man used a different type of pick up line.

Participants were then asked to rate how likely it was the conversation would continue on the basis of that pick up line.

These pick up lines were collated from a variety of sources and clustered into the following categories:

  1. Good mate – these pick up lines included comments that made reference to culture, character or wealth. E.g. “You know I saw this fantastic piece in the Tate Modern”.
  2. Compliments. E.g. “You remind me of a parking ticket because you’ve got fine written all over you.” (Please. No!)
  3. Sex. E.g. “I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I can sure make your bedrock.” (Club to the head.)
  4. Humour. “Can I buy you an island?” (Nice.)

So, now we know, generally speaking, how our female participants react to these four broad types of pick up lines.

Next we need to find out what types of men the female participants prefer.

Four types of men

For this they completed the Dating Partner Preference Test.

An analysis of these results suggests women see men as generally falling into one of four types:

  1. Nice guy. Yes, he’s helpful, he’s considerate, he’s appreciative. He’s a puppy.
  2. Provider. Man go into woods, kill pig. Bring fire. Build log cabin. All warm and fed.
  3. Leader. He’s chatty, confident and strong-willed – a captain of your heart?
  4. Bad mate. Fickle, conceited, dependent. All wrong for you. But there’s something about him…

Along with these vignettes and the Dating Partner Preference Test, participants were asked to fill in personality measures of their psychoticism (tendency for inappropriate emotional responses and recklessness), extraversion (being outgoing, gregarious, externally oriented) and neuroticism (the tendency to experience negative emotional states).

Now we’ve got all the information we need to see if there’s any connection.


Looking at the correlations shows there is support for the idea that pick up lines select for women with particular personalities.

  • Women high in extraversion preferred the male ‘leaders’.
  • Women high in neuroticism preferred the ‘nice guys’.
  • Women high in psychoticism rejected ‘nice guys’, preferring the ‘bad mate’.

It does seem, then, that the type of pick up lines men choose does have a measurable effect on the type of women who respond to them.

This can effectively allow men to make a quick assessment of a woman’s personality by their response to a particular type of approach.

Those looking for a ‘bad mate’ might use a sexually-loaded remark or a compliment, while those wanting an extrovert should use a joke.

Men’s perceptions of women’s lines

I have focussed on women’s perceptions of male pick up lines as in most cultures it’s mostly the men using the lines, although this is changing.

Perhaps to reflect this men’s perceptions of women’s pick up lines were also included in this study.

The results for men’s perceptions showed that in comparison to women, men were more likely to prefer pick up lines involving sex (surprise surprise!) as opposed to women who preferred humour.

Men also tended to be worse than women at judging what types of pick up lines women prefer.

The types of pick up lines whose effectiveness was under-estimated by men were those involving offers of help to women, handing control of the interaction to women and (subtly) displaying wealth (surprise surprise!).

Examples of direct pick up lines

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that men prefer pick up lines to be direct.

But, do men and women agree on what a direct approach is and why such directness is necessary in the first place?

These questions are addressed in a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Wade et al., 2009).

Forty women aged between 19 and 22 were asked to list the types of pick up lines they might use to signal their interest in dating a man.

Researchers sorted these pick up lines into 10 categories, then 40 men and women rated them in order of perceived directness.

Here are the 10 categories (with examples) from most to least direct pick up lines:

  1. Directly ask out on a date: Want to go get dinner?
  2. Ask if single: Do you have a girlfriend?
  3. Give out phone number, or ask for a call: You should call me.
  4. Give a compliment: I like your hair.
  5. Ask about shared interests: Do you watch The Wire?
  6. Indirectly hint at a date: What are you doing later this weekend?
  7. Say something funny/sexual humour: Wanna make out?
  8. Suggest familiarity: Have we met before?
  9. Personal interest questions: How was your weekend?
  10. Subtle hello: Hey, what’s your name?

Then men were asked which pick up lines they thought would be most effective for women to use on them.

They pretty much put the pick up lines in order of directness, with the most direct also perceived as the most effective.

When women were asked to do the same they produced a similar list with one exception.

Women didn’t rate as highly giving out phone numbers or asking for a call.

Overall, though, women clearly understand that men prefer the direct approach.

The only surprise is the low ranking of funny or sexual humour.

Men don’t seem to appreciate the lewd come-ons suggested by gender stereotypes.

This relatively low rating for a jokey approach is another thing shared by both sexes.

Previous work by Bale et al. (2006) found that women weren’t particularly impressed with men trying to be funny, despite what we are often told.

It seems opening lines are a serious business for both sexes.

Why men prefer women to be direct

The interesting question, although it may seem easy to answer, is why do men prefer a direct approach?

Two obvious answers are men’s purported inability to read body language or an assumed distaste for reading situational subtleties (in other words: too stupid or can’t be bothered).

But researchers in Germany provide us with evidence for an alternative explanation.

Grammer et al. (2000) videotaped opposite sex pairs meeting for the first time to catch the nuances of body language in the first 10 minutes of an interaction.

Afterwards women were asked how much interest they had in the man they’d been talking to.

The researchers revealed two counter-intuitive results:

  • In the first minute women behaved no differently to men they fancied than those they didn’t. They sent many positive nonverbal signals to all the men and hardly any negative signals.
  • It is only between the 4th and 10th minute that any correlation was seen between an increased sending of positive nonverbal behaviours and wanting to date the man. But even then the difference was only between some positive signals and slightly more positive signals. Again negative signals were very rare.

The reason men prefer a direct approach becomes clearer.

Women may think they are sending out all the right nonverbal signals and may blame men for failing to pick up on them.

But from a man’s perspective there may often be little to pick up on because women, being polite, are always sending positive nonverbal signals.

While it’s not good practice to generalise too much from one relatively small study of 45 participants whose age ranged from 18 to 23, the results accord with what men say anecdotally: they often can’t tell if women are interested or not because the signals are too ambiguous.

So subtlety is out and it’s back to the age-old problem for both men and women: who has the guts to risk rejection with the direct approach?


The Traits People Find Most Attractive In A Partner

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time.

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time.

People desire positive traits in a partner, but it probably does not matter exactly which ones they get, research reveals.

The study found that when selecting a partner, people tend to ignore their own top three traits and are equally happy with someone who has a different set of positive traits.

For example, people say they want intelligence and kindness, but are just as happy with a sense of humour and ambition.

Dr Jehan Sparks, the study’s first author, said:

“The people in our study could very easily list their top three attributes in an ideal partner.

We wanted to see whether those top three attributes really mattered for the person who listed them.

As it turns out, they didn’t.”

For the research, over 700 people were asked to list their ideal traits in a partner.

These traits were then compared to people they actually knew and with how attractive they were.

The results showed that people did prefer others who had the traits they had listed as most attractive.

So far, so predictable.

Professor Paul Eastwick, study co-author, said:

“On the surface, this looks promising.

You say you want these three attributes, and you like the people who possess those attributes.

But the story doesn’t end there.”

However, people were equally attracted to other people who had different positive traits.

Dr Sparks explained:

“So in the end, we want partners who have positive qualities, but the qualities you specifically list do not actually have special predictive power for you.”

Professor Eastwick said:

“Why do we order off the menu for ourselves?

Because it seems obvious that I will like what I get to pick.

Our findings suggest that, in the romantic domain, you might as well let a random stranger order for you—you’re just as likely to end up liking what you get.”

Searching for someone who exactly matches your ideals may be a waste of time, says Dr Sparks:

“It’s really easy to spend time hunting around online for someone who seems to match your ideals.

But our research suggests an alternative approach: Don’t be too picky ahead of time about whether a partner matches your ideals on paper.

Or, even better, let your friends pick your dates for you.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Sparks et al., 2020).

Why People Stay In Toxic Relationships Despite Being Unhappy

Why people stay in relationships that are no good for them.

Why people stay in relationships that are no good for them.

Fear of being single is one of the strongest predictors of settling for less in a relationship, research finds.

Both men and women experience the fear of being single.

People who are very anxious about their relationships are particularly worried about being rejected.

As a result, they can put a lot of effort into a bad relationship.

While the effort increases their investment in the relationship, they are still left feeling dissatisfied.

This means the relationship has little chance of being a happy one in the long-term.

Dr Stephanie Spielmann, who led the study, said:

“Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships.

Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren’t happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren’t very good for them.

Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors.”

The results come from a series of studies of hundreds of people across different age ranges.

The study showed that people who were very anxious about their relationship were low in trust but also very dependent.

However, people who acted in an avoidant way wanted to remain independent.

Professor Geoff MacDonald, study co-author, said:

“In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single.

Loneliness is a painful experience for both men and women, so it’s not surprising that the fear of being single seems not to discriminate on the basis of gender.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Gere et al., 2013).

The Events That Predict Whether Couples Will Marry

These regular events help couples decide whether to get married.

These regular events help couples decide whether to get married.

Rituals help couples decide whether or not to get married, new research finds.

While engaged in rituals — often during holidays or other celebrations — people learn more about each other.

Each learns how the other interacts with their family, how much they are aware of the relationship and how they deal with conflict.

Rituals might include Friday movie night, birthdays or rituals the couples create themselves.

Mr Chris Maniotes, the study’s first author, said:

“Rituals have the power to bond individuals and give us a preview into family life and couple life.

We found they help magnify normative relationship experiences.”

The study included 24 heterosexual couples whose commitment to marriage was tracked over nine months.

The researchers found that commitment to wed changed markedly in response to rituals, depending on how they went.

Rituals sometimes reinforced bonds between couples and highlighted problems at other times.

Mr Maniotes said:

“Rituals provide a unique time to review one’s partner and relationship; you get to see a host of behaviors and interactions that might normally be obscured.

Some of the ways rituals affected commitment to wed with these couples was by altering their view of their partner, giving them a new perspective.”

Holiday celebrations, for example, often provide a key insight into how a person deals with conflict.

Mr Maniotes said:

“Rituals seem to really play a role in pausing and slowing down individuals, helping them take a better look at their relationship.

They help them see, ‘this is who we are as a couple; this is who we are as a family.'”

Although rituals are just part of the answer, they still play an important role in deciding whether or not to wed, said Mr Maniotes:

“Just recognizing the importance of rituals in our lives, and the magnitude of the role they play, can help us integrate them in an intentional way.”

The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Maniotes et al., 2020).

The Healthiest Personality Trait For Your Partner

Extend your life by looking for this trait in a partner.

Extend your life by looking for this trait in a partner.

Having a happy partner makes you live longer, new research finds.

People whose partners are satisfied with their lives were less likely to die over the 8 years the study tracked people.

In fact, the happiness of people’s partners was more important for their longevity than their own happiness.

One reason is probably that happy people are more active.

On the other hand, unhappy people drag their partners down, said Dr Olga Stavrova, the study’s author:

“If your partner is depressed and wants to spend the evening eating chips in front of the TV — that’s how your evening will probably end up looking, as well.”

The results come from a study of around 4,400 couples in the US who were followed for up to 8 years.

They were asked about their life satisfaction, their relationship quality and other aspects of their health.

The results showed that people were at less risk of dying over the 8 years if their spouse was happy.

Their own happiness was also important, but their partner’s happiness mattered more.

One reason, the study revealed, was that happier partners were more physically active.

This made both partners more physically active and reduced the chance of dying.

The findings held, no matter people’s socioeconomic status, said Stavrova:

“The data show that spousal life satisfaction was associated with mortality, regardless of individuals’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, or their physical health status,”

Dr Stavrova concluded:

“The findings underscore the role of individuals’ immediate social environment in their health outcomes.

Most importantly, it has the potential to extend our understanding of what makes up individuals’ ‘social environment’ by including the personality and well-being of individuals’ close ones.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Stavrova et al., 2019).

The Emotion That Protects Relationships Against Stress And Arguments (M)

Couples who felt this emotion from their partners were in better psychological shape: they experienced more stability and greater confidence.

Couples who felt this emotion from their partners were in better psychological shape: they experienced more stability and greater confidence.

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Why People Repeat Bad Relationship Patterns

People’s relationships with different partners show remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases.

People’s relationships with different partners show remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases.

People follow the same relationship patterns with different partners, research finds.

Once the initial honeymoon phase of a new relationship is over, it tends to settle into much the same pattern as with previous partners.

People who experience a lot of negative emotions in one relationship are likely to experience them with a different person.

The reason why people repeat the same patterns is, according to Dr Matthew Johnson, the study’s first author:

“Although some relationship dynamics may change, you are still the same person, so you likely recreate many of the same patterns with the next partner.

New love is great, but relationships continue past that point.”

The conclusions come from a study involving 554 people who were followed for years, through one relationship to its end and into the next one.

They were surveyed twice during each relationship and asked about their satisfaction with it, whether they could open up to their partner and their confidence in the relationship lasting.

Naturally, all relationships have their ups and downs, said Dr Johnson:

“Things get worse as a relationship ends, and when we start a new one, everything is wonderful at first, because we’re not involving our partner in everyday life like housework and child care.

The relationship exists outside of those things.”

However, the results showed remarkable similarity in the middle, settled phases of relationships, said Dr Johnson:

“There’s a lot of change in between, but more broadly, we do have stability in how we are in relationships.

It’s good in a sense that we as individuals can bring ourselves and our experiences into relationships; we aren’t totally trying to change who we are, and that continuity shows we stay true to ourselves.”

New relationships do not always offer a new pattern, after the honeymoon phase is over, said Dr Johnson:

“Just starting a new partnership doesn’t mean things are going to be different.

This research shows that chances are, you are going to fall into the same patterns in many aspects of the relationship.

Even if things are different, they’re not guaranteed to be better.”

The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology (Johnson & Neyer, 2019).

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