Tag Archives: relationships

Does power help or hurt perspective-taking?

First comes love, then comes the realization that we are navigating life’s journey with another person who may have different thoughts, feelings, and beliefs than us. How do we deal with having differing viewpoints from our romantic partners? Perspective-taking is a fundamental social skill that helps us smoothly steer through the many bumps in the
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The Trouble with Destiny: Relationships Take Work

couple_heartIf I could give one piece of advice as a relationships researcher, it would be this: Relationships take work. Sure we’d all like to believe in destiny, thinking there is someone out there who is mean for us. Then when we find our soul mate, we will slip into an easy and comfortable companionship that provides us with decades of endless laughter and joy, and not a single fight or tense moment. But that is the stuff of dreams, people. Of course there will be times of joy greater than you imagined and laughter that brings you to tears, and those moments should far outweigh the fights and tension. But to believe that you are destined to be with one person and when you find the right relationship for you, it will be one that doesn’t take work, well that belief may be detrimental for your relationship.

In a great test of what happens when people believe they are “meant to be”, close relationships researcher C. Raymond Knee looked at the extent to which people held  or Growth Beliefs, and the consequences of these beliefs for their relationships.
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After the Sacrifice: Doing it for the Right Reasons

This is the third in a three-part post on sacrifice in relationships. In Part I, I talked about the pros and cons of sacrificing for the ones we love. In Part II, I suggested some questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether or not to make a major sacrifice. Today, in Part III, I focus on sacrificing for the right reasons.

So you’ve made the move

So you’ve decided to make the cross-country move for your spouse’s new job, skip your important work event to attend your partner’s family reunion, or make a long commute to live closer to your partner’s job. Even after the decision has been made and the bags are packed, it is important to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Research shows that people engage in sacrifice for many different reasons, and not all of them lead to happily ever after. Sacrificing for the wrong reasons may be worse than no sacrifice at all.

Are you making the move to make your partner happy and keep your relationship going, or to avoid having conflict with your partner? Sacrifices made for approach-motivated reasons, such as making your partner happy, are beneficial. People who sacrifice for these reasons are happier and have more satisfying relationships. In contrast, sacrifices made for avoidance-motivated reasons, such as avoiding conflict, can be detrimental. People who sacrifice for these reasons are less happy and have less satisfying relationships. You might think, well I might feel bad, but at least my partner will reap the benefits of my sacrifice. It turns out that is not the case – when people believe their partners sacrificed for avoidance –motivated reasons, they feel less satisfied with the relationship.
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Science and love

I want to spend a moment talking about scientists in love. Pierre and Marie Curie are perhaps the most famous power couple in all of science; together, they shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies of radiation. Marie went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discoveries of radium and polonium, as well. Their daughter, Irène, went on to win the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband, Frédéric, for the discovery of induced radioactivity.

At the moment, Berkeley’s College of Chemistry has more than its share of scientific power couples: Teresa and Martin Head-Gordon, Marcin Majda and Birgitta Whaley, T. Don and Rosemary Tilley, Michelle and Chris Chang, Anne Baranger and John Hartwig, and Kristie Boering and Ron Cohen. As someone who is also in a scientific relationship (with fellow BSR blogger Piper J. Klemm), I wanted to share some of the benefits and challenges as I’ve experienced them:

  • Home becomes a science zone. Sitting at the breakfast table can be a moment to discuss the state of federal funding for science, and a walk to grab a cup of coffee might suddenly be a discussion of nonlinear optics. For partners who want a refuge from work and research, this can be sincerely frustrating; for others, that means that they can constantly talk about the things that excite them the most with someone who shares that interest. There are thrills to be had from highly overlapping knowledge bases.
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