Relationships form and dissolve over time
Maintaining a relationship requires:
- Evaluation of the costs and benefits of staying in the relationship
- Investment and commitment
- Overlooking your partners faults (and hoping that they reciprocate ...)
- Undervaluing the attractiveness of other potential partners
- Physical appearance influences are significant in attraction and love, particularly in the initial stages of dating. Being physically attractive appears to be more important for females than males. The matching hypothesis proposes that males and females of approximately equal physical attractiveness are likely to select each other as partners.
- Research: Byrne’s research suggests that similarity causes attraction, particularly attitude similarity, although Davis and Rusbult (2001) have shown that attraction can also foster similarity, with dating partners experiencing attitude alignment. Couples tend to be similar in age, race, religion, social class, personality, education, intelligence, physical attractiveness, and attitudes. Personality similarity has been shown to be associated with marital happiness.
- Reciprocity involves liking those who show that they like you. When a partner helps one feel good about oneself, a phenomenon called self-enhancement occurs. Studies suggest that people seek feedback that matches and supports their self-concepts, as well, a process known as self-verification. In romantic relationships, reciprocity often extends to idealizing one’s partner–people view their partners more favorably than the partners view themselves. Research on the degree to which a partner matches a person’s romantic ideal indicates that evaluations according to ideal standards influence how relationships progress.
- Berscheid and Hatfield have distinguished between passionate and companionate love, with passionate love being a complete absorption in another that includes tender sexual feelings and the agony and ecstasy of intense emotion. Companionate love is warm, trusting, tolerant affection for another whose life is deeply intertwined with one’s own. These may coexist, but not necessarily. Passionate love is gradually replaced by compassionate love.
- Robert Sternberg has expanded the distinction between passionate and companionate love, subdividing companionate love into intimacy (warmth, closeness, and sharing) and commitment (intent to maintain a relationship in spite of the difficulties and costs).
- Going back to developmental psychology, Hazen and Shaver’s theory suggests that love relationships in adulthood mimic attachment patterns in infancy, with those with secure attachments having more committed, satisfying relationships.
- Cultures vary in their emphasis on love as a prerequisite for marriage, with marriage for love more common in Western cultures. Cross-cultural similarities in characteristics that males and females seek in prospective mates support an evolutionary perspective on love. According to this theory, certain characteristics are attractive because they are indicators of reproductive fitness.
Myers, D. G. (2001). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2001). Psychology (6th ed.) (pp. 643-688). New York: Worth.
Westen, D., Burton, L., & Kowalski, R. (2006). Psychology. Australian and New Zealand Edition. Queensland: Wiley.