The power of mindfulness in strengthening relationships -- especially between new parents.
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The power of mindfulness in strengthening relationships — especially between new parents.
Between 40 percent and 76 percent of people cheat on their partners over the course of their relationship.
Men with performance anxiety and who like to take risks are most likely to cheat, a study finds.
Women, though, tend to cheat if they are dissatisfied with the relationship.
The standard of a man’s relationship does not have much effect on whether he cheats.
Instead, it is a man’s personality that is especially important in whether or not he cheats.
The study supports the stereotype that men who are cheaters will continue to cheat, whatever kind of relationship they are in.
Risk-takers tend to be impulsive and can have problems controlling themselves.
Gambling, drug-taking and aggressive behaviour can all be signs of someone who is a risk-taker.
Cheating is one more way for this type of man to find excitement.
The pattern is different among women, where unhappiness in their current relationship predicts cheating.
In fact, women who are dissatisfied with their relationship were twice as likely to cheat on their partner than those who were satisfied.
The study included almost one thousand men and women in (supposedly) monogamous relationships.
The results showed that 23% of men and 19% of women admitted being unfaithful at some point.
Men’s infidelity was predicted by personality factors like risk-taking.
Professor Milhausen, who led the study, said:
“All kinds of things predict infidelity.
What this study says is that when you put all of those things together, for men, personality characteristics are so strong they bounce everything else out of the model.
For women, in the face of all other variables, it’s still the relationship that is the most important predictor.”
The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Mark et al., 2011).
How to decide which fights are worth having.
Every couple argues, but happy couples focus on solving issues that can be solved, research finds.
The key is being able to choose which issues need to be tackled and which can safely be left on the back burner.
Issues like household chores and how to spend leisure time are more solvable — so happy couples tend to talk about them.
Difficult or intractable issues, like physical intimacy and health problems, tend to be avoided by happy couples.
These issues can lead to embarrassment and conflict, which is why happy couples avoid them.
Dr Amy Rauer, the study’s first author, said:
“Happy couples tend to take a solution-oriented approach to conflict, and this is clear even in the topics that they choose to discuss.”
The study included two age groups of happy couples: 57 couples were in their 30s and 64 couples were in their 70s.
All were asked to rank their most to least serious relationship issues.
The most serious issues were money, leisure time activities, intimacy, household and communication.
Older couples added health to this list of serious issues.
The least serious issues were jealousy, religion and family.
Observing the couples revealed that they focused on issues that could be resolved, such as how to spend leisure time and manage household chores.
Dr Rauer said:
“Rebalancing chores may not be easy, but it lends itself to more concrete solutions than other issues.
One spouse could do more of certain chores to balance the scales.
Focusing on the perpetual, more-difficult-to-solve problems may undermine partners’ confidence in the relationship.”
More difficult issues, like health problems and physical intimacy, tended to be avoided.
Issues like these are likely to be embarrassing and lead to more conflict.
Dr Rauer said:
“Since these issues tend to be more difficult to resolve, they are more likely to lead to less marital happiness or the dissolution of the relationship, especially if couples have not banked up any previous successes solving other marital issues.”
The results also showed that couple together for longer tended to argue less, suggesting they knew which fights were worth picking.
Dr Rauer said:
“If couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues.”
The study was published in the journal Family Process (Rauer et al., 2019).
Men and women differ, but have certain minimum standards.
Men choose a woman who is at least moderately physically attractive, research finds.
Women, however, prioritise choosing a man of at least moderate social status when considering a long-term relationship.
The speed dating study found that men of low social status and unattractive women tended to lose out.
The partners that people chose were in line with their predictions beforehand.
In other words, men prioritised appearance and women prioritised social status.
Men and women were the same, though, when thinking about a short-term relationship — then both sexes were focused on physical appearance.
The study used both speed dating and online dating formats to test people’s partner preferences.
Before chatting with members of the opposite sex, participants were asked about their preferences.
Dr Norman Li, who led the study, explained the results:
“[people] prioritize different qualities when screening each other in online chats and speed-dates – women want men who are at least average in social status while men want women who are at least moderately physically attractive.
We also are the first to demonstrate that what individuals say they value in potential mates is indeed reflected in how they actually choose them in initial mating situations.”
In other words, people do know what they want in a partner, although men and women differ.
Dr Oliver Sng, study co-author, said:
“Speed-dating events and other modern contexts have many factors that can prevent a person’s ideal preferences from being expressed.
This new study identifies one such factor (lack of low-end variability) and shows that once you correct for it, people do indeed make choices closer to what they ideally want.”
Professor Douglas Kenrick, study co-author, said:
“The new study helps to dispel politically correct – but factually misguided – notions of a gender-neutral world where men and women want the exact same kind of mates.”
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Li et al., 2013).
People with this skill had higher relationship satisfaction, along with lower stress.
Being mindful has a profound positive effect on relationships, research finds.
Partners who are able to remain mindful with each other are much less stressed and much happier than those who do not.
While some people have a natural tendency to be more mindful than others, the quality can be trained.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental way.
Even people who are generally mindful may find that they do not always pay full attention to their partner.
It is easy for the attention to wander to future worries and past events.
People low in relationship mindfulness tend to agree with statements such as:
Dr Jonathan Kimmes, the study’s first author, said:
“Relationship mindfulness is that tendency to be present with your partner in a nonjudgmental way.
It’s one thing to be mindful when you are at the grocery store, but can you be mindful with the person you are most intimate with?”
The conclusions come from a study of 218 heterosexual couples who were given surveys of their happiness and relationship mindfulness.
The results showed an association between higher relationship mindfulness and better relationship satisfaction, along with lower stress.
Women with mindful partners were also less depressed.
Dr Kimmes said:
“To me as a therapist, these results suggest that this area could be a promising target for clinical interventions.
There are many mindfulness practices that could work with clients, so which ones should you choose?
We should look at practices specific to relationships for people seeking therapy in that area.”
The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy (Kimmes et al., 2019).
The most common form of relationship abuse is psychological.
Women stay in abusive relationships due to a combination of low self-esteem, poor alternatives and how much they have already invested in the relationship, research finds.
Despite being abused, many women (and men) find it hard to leave their partner.
Only 12 percent of the women in this study who were abused — psychologically or physically — left their partner within two months.
Many women felt they were not worthy of something better.
Their low self-esteem was sometimes the result of experiencing childhood abuse — this appeared to raise their tolerance for abuse.
The conclusions come from a study of 323 women, all of whom reported at least one incident of abuse, whether physical or psychological.
Psychological abuse included things like “called me fat or ugly” or “insulted or swore at me”.
Most of the abuse reported in the study was psychological.
The results showed that 88 percent of women were still with an abusive partner over two months later.
The authors write that:
“…women experiencing high levels of psychological distress may not feel efficacious in their ability to leave their partners.”
Childhood abuse was an important contributory factor, the authors write:
“…women who were abused in childhood were more satisfied with their current relationships than women who were not abused in childhood.
It is possible that women with childhood abuse histories are more satisfied in their relationships than women without childhood abuse histories because they have more tolerance for mistreatment based on early life experiences and resulting interpersonal schemas.”
Being abused had an unusual effect on women: it encouraged them to work harder at their relationship.
“…the more psychological abuse women are exposed to, the more energy and effort they put forth to resolve the conflict, thus leading to increases in perceived investment.”
And the more women invested in their relationship, the more likely they were to stay in it.
The study was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence (Edwards et al., 2010).
The top two psychological causes of infidelity.
Men and women cheat on their partners at about equal rates.
According to various studies, somewhere between 40 percent and 76 percent of people cheat on their partners over the course of their relationship.
The type of people most likely to cheat are those with ‘avoidant attachment styles’.
In other words: these are people who find intimacy uncomfortable.
They are the kind of people who want to avoid being too attached to one person.
This could be because of poor parental relationships when they were young.
They could also value their independence more highly than being very close to one person.
Ms Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, author of a study on the subject, said:
“These numbers indicate that even if we get married with the best of intentions things don’t always turn out the way we plan.
What interests me about infidelity is why people are willing to conduct themselves in ways that could be very damaging to them and to their relationship.”
The top two reasons for infidelity that people cited were: (1) distancing themselves from commitment and (2) distancing themselves from their partner.
“The emotional attachment we have with others is modelled on the type of parenting received during childhood.
Infidelity could be a regulatory emotional strategy used by people with an avoidant attachment style.
The act of cheating helps them avoid commitment phobia, distances them from their partner, and helps them keep their space and freedom.”
No difference was seen between men and women in the study.
Ms Beaulieu-Pelletier said:
“Contrary to popular belief, infidelity isn’t more prevalent in men.”
The study was published in the journal Attachment and Human Development (Beaulieu-Pelletier et al., 2009).
Around one in five people have this attachment style.
Anxiously attached people tend to bring up old arguments over and over again, research finds.
Recalling old grudges or misdeeds adds fire to new arguments and kills the relationship.
Psychologists call this ‘kitchen sinking’.
Kitchen sinking is throwing everything into arguments, but the kitchen sink.
Anxiously attached people do this partly because they worry that their partners do not care for them.
High levels of attachment anxiety are linked to a fear of abandonment.
People who are anxiously attached are extremely ‘needy’.
Around one in five people have an anxious attachment style.
The conclusions come from a series of studies involving many hundreds of people.
In one, 201 people in romantic relationships were asked about their attachment anxiety and past conflicts.
The results showed that anxiously attached people were more likely to remember old conflicts.
Ms Kassandra Cortes, the study’s first author, explained:
“When memories feel closer to the present, those memories are construed as more relevant to the present and more representative of the relationship.
If one bad memory feels recent, a person will also be more likely to remember other past slights, and attach more importance to them.”
Naturally, remembering past conflicts makes people act more destructively in the moment, with disastrous consequences for the relationship.
However, the study also showed that sweeping conflicts under the carpet was not effective either.
Instead, conflicts need to be resolved as they occur, Ms Cortes said:
“It may be useful for people to resolve an issue with their partner when it occurs, rather than pretending to forgive their partner or just letting it go when they are clearly upset.
This way, the issue may be less likely to resurface in the future.”
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Cortes & Wilson, 2016).
People often do not plan to cheat, but when the opportunity arises cannot resist the temptation.
These types of relationships are linked to higher anxiety and depression.
On-off relationships are linked to worse mental health, research finds.
These types of cycling relationships involve couples repeatedly breaking up and then getting back together later on.
Psychologists have found that on-off relationships are linked to higher anxiety and depression.
These couples are also likely to experience lower commitment, worse communication and higher levels of abuse.
As many as 60 percent of adults have had a relationship like this in the past, or are currently involved in one.
They can be caused by a variety of things such as jobs or homes in different locations or having little in common outside the bedroom.
Often couples like this return to each other for comfort and in the hope that the relationship will eventually become more stable.
Dr Kale Monk, the study’s first author, thinks that this pattern is not always a bad omen for a couple.
Breaking up can sometimes eventually cause the couple to realise what they have been missing and commit to the relationship.
However, couples that repeatedly break up and get back together should consider whether the relationship is toxic in the long run.
The study involved 545 couples, some of whom were heterosexual and others homosexual.
The results showed that about one-third of couples that lived together had broken up and got back together again.
The researchers also found that male-male relationships had the highest rate of cycling (on-off relationships).
Both heterosexual and female-female couples had lower, but similar, levels of cycling.
Dr Monk said:
“The findings suggest that people who find themselves regularly breaking up and getting back together with their partners need to ‘look under the hood’ of their relationships to determine what’s going on.
If partners are honest about the pattern, they can take the necessary steps to maintain their relationships or safely end them.
This is vital for preserving their well-being.”
The study was published in the journal Family Relations (Monk et al., 2018).