Asymmetric Relationship Playbook

unequal

Asymmetric Relationship Playbook

Sometimes you feel like you aren’t giving as much as your partner is. This can be an imagined inequality perhaps caused by low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. But other times it is an asymmetric relationship. Is it that your lover takes advantage of your commitment? First, try to evaluate the situation. There certainly isn’t ever equality in any relationship. One person may be better at some things than the other. One is hardier, makes more money, has more friends or some other advantage. The question is, how much value do you put on your relationship and how much does your partner? It starts out in the beginning of the relationship that you two value each other immeasurably. Some couples stay at this stage or float around it. What may begin to happen is that the value on the other or the relationship may start to diminish. If it diminishes more for one person in the relationship than the other, this is what we call an asymmetric relationship. There isn’t equality in value between one person and another in this relationship. And that is where problems occur. In terms of a marriage for instance, one person may revisit his or her options now and again, putting strain on the relationship.

It comes down to one person putting more value than the other on the relationship. If there isn’t equality in what each person is contributing, then the couple must discuss the issue and come to a conclusion about it. The relationship cannot last if this problem isn’t dealt with. Eventually it will drive a wedge between the two so that the relationship will cease to exist. The bond will be broken. If one or another person wants to leave, finding themselves or the relationship devalued, they may not be able to. They may want to stick it out for financial reasons, or for the sake of the children. They could find the divorce proceedings too painful and expensive to wish to endure them. Each person must make their own choice and find their own path toward happiness. If you are in this situation and find that you cannot find your happiness staying with this person, by all means get out. But if you can find bliss and still cohabitate or even try to repair the relationship, go ahead and make it work. The trick is to reach down inside yourself and decide what it is you want, and what you can accept. But don’t let someone take advantage of you. Never give consent if you hear “If you love me, you’ll do this for me.” That isn’t real love. It’s manipulation. For more advice read, Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting, and Enjoying the Self by Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.

Guys, are You Cheating and Don’t Know it?

infidelity

Guys, are You Cheating and Don’t Know it?

If you are in a committed relationship, you probably have a good idea of what the delineation between physical cheating and being faithful is. But there are lots of gray areas in social contexts that while it may not seem like cheating to you, your lady may view things far differently. So are you cheating, in her eyes, and you don’t even know it? It’s a scenario that can spell disaster, at best a big blow out and at worst a change to your Facebook relationship status, nights crying into your pillow and a whole lot of questions from your family and friends. So how can you fend off relationship disaster? Have a clearer picture of how the fairer sex views infidelity.

Do you have a female colleague or friend who you are close to? Do you discuss personal details about your relationship with her? Whether you are complaining that she hogs the bed or that she’s a little timid in the bedroom, you may be crossing the line. Daniel Kruger, Ph.D. is a University of Michigan psychologist who studies differences in gender, specifically in how they view infidelity. “Informational infidelity” is the term he uses for this phenomenon. A woman could read this situation as emotional bonding. Females find this a bigger threat than even sexual intercourse. Kruger says, “If he’s fooling around on the side, she still has the relationship—the investment. But if a guy is falling for another woman, he might abandon her.”

Have you ever checked your ex’s Facebook page or other social media site? If you are friends or you are just curious to see what she is up to, you may see no harm. Human sexuality professor Justin Sitron, Ph.D. at Widener University says, “Socially, we’re primed to think that men don’t care about emotions and feelings—that all they care about is sex.” So you may be innocently checking out your ex’s page, but what she’s thinking is you don’t have the capacity to do so. Sex must somehow be on your mind. Another problem can occur when you are out socially with the people from work. You may saddle up to the bar and buy a drink for a coworker’s main squeeze or a colleague. But even fitting the bill for a cocktail could be overstepping according to Kruger. “It could be seen as being generous and nice,” he said. “But it could also be construed as hitting on someone, especially if you’re buying a drink just for the woman—not, say, a round of beers for everyone.” Buy a round or just your own and your lady’s drink. If there is a special place that you always go to, or the restaurant where you had your first date, do not take another female there. You are putting your life in your hands. Those places have serious sentimental value and so are off limits. Finally, be careful when saying something nice about another woman’s hairdo or getup. It could mean you’ve been paying some attention to her. Think about the compliment you are about to pay before saying it. Mull it over and if it sounds like something that could get you in trouble, silence may be a better route. For more advice read, Boundaries in Marriage: Line between Right and Wrong by Jeffery Dawson.

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

Ilustracion con una pareja de jovenes

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

In a recent piece in the New York Times Style section, professor Mandy Len Catron talked about how she used a set of questions from a lab experiment to see if it could make two people, namely her and a male acquaintance fall in love. This social experiment was based off the work of psychologist Dr. Arthur Aaron. He had two strangers ask each other these questions. Afterward, the participants were to gaze into each other’s eyes for four long minutes. There is a set of 36 questions. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire set. At the end of the now famous 1997 experiment, the couple threw a wedding six months later and everyone at the lab was invited. You can find the questions here: nytimes.com. They are separated into three sections. The first section includes questions like “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” Some others, “Would you like to be famous? In what way?”, “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”, and “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.”

But they begin slowly probing after that, uncovering deep inner desires, parental relationships and even how affectionate and loving a person is, as well as the role love plays in their life.  Aaron was a professor at Stony Brook University. Catron is a British Columbia writing professor. You can tell this was someone she had an interest in. After going to a bar together her male companion posited this question, “I suspect, given a few commonalities, you could fall in love with anyone. If so, how do you choose someone?” She explained Aaron’s experiment and that psychologists have been trying to get two people to fall in love for some time. He prodded and they decided to try. Of course, Catron’s experiment took place in a tavern, not a lab. She and her acquaintance spent two hours answering the questions on her iPhone together. Then they stared into one another’s eyes for four minutes over a bridge in a romantic setting and presto, they were in love. Of course, it does sound like this couple was interested in one another from the beginning. Catron calls what she experienced “accelerated intimacy.” She explains how when we are young over summer camp, we get used to talking all night and becoming close to someone quickly. But as we grow older, we are more wary and perhaps take longer to get to know someone.

Catron says the most uncomfortable parts were the questions that made her reveal more about herself. But to create interpersonal closeness the barriers have to be broken down, though the questions do this in a slow, subtle kind of way. In a sense, these interrogatives are designed to include another person in our sense of self, and vice-versa. When we ask what the person likes about us, or we tell what we like about them, what is said establishes a link, an air of mutual appreciation and understanding. Catron says staring into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes was both exhilarating and terrifying. It wasn’t just seeing another, but having another see the real you that made such an impact, she says. One of the problems with love that she points out is that we start to look at it as a given. But really it’s an action. The study brings that part of it to the forefront. You can find Aaron’s study here: psp.sagepub.com. For more on the scientific aspect of love read, Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction by Andrew Trees.

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

ENGAGEMENT-RING

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

The price on weddings has risen significantly in recent years. So-called “normal” couples today incorporate detailed websites, photo booths and giant ice sculptures into their marriages, and even throw weekend-long events. The industry likes to marry the idea of love and commitment with how much is spent. But although most of us scour the plan looking for ways of saving a few dollars, some wish money was no object. They secretly drool over celebrity-style affairs in exotic locales, taking place in lavish venues where so many luxuries abound their guests’ heads spin. We dream of becoming a part of what looks like modern day royalty. But be careful what you wish for. All of that style may be hiding a lack of substance, according to a study out of Emory University. You would think those who shell out the most mean it the most. But this study found the opposite to be true. The most expensive weddings lead to the shortest marriages. Two economics professors came to this conclusion. They also found that the higher the price-tag for the engagement ring, the greater the likelihood of divorce.

3,000 participants, married only one time, took part in this study. They found that those men who spent $500 to $2,000 were 1.3 times less likely to get divorced than those who spent $2,000 and $4,000. Those who spent $5,000 to $10,000 on the wedding were 3.5 times less likely to get divorced than those who shelled out over $20,000. In an email to Big Think researchers wrote, “Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful.” Though they’ve found a correlation, determining causation is far trickier. The economists surmise that such a big event inflates the expectations of the marriage. The couple is enchanted into the notion that things are going to be easy from here on out. Both parties have unrealistic expectations which undermine reconciliation when the couple hits a stumbling block. Those who have a more moderately priced affair have a level-headed view and so are ready when the inevitable difficulties arise.

No matter how much you plunk down for your wedding, there are some qualities that can be sustained by both parties to give the marriage the best chance of success. The first is to focus on the positive rather than the negative. There are little things that will inevitably drive you crazy. But if you can remember how supportive and understanding they are, you can perhaps overlook the hair they leave in the shower drain or that they are never once on-time. Invest in your relationship. This could be time, energy or thoughtfulness. But you get out of a marriage what you put into it. Communicate clearly and make sure you understand what your spouse has said or is saying. Lots of fights boil down to miscommunication. Fight smart. If you hurt your partner but win the argument, have you really won? Learn to let the little things go. And find ways to increase your closeness and strengthen your bond. For more on how to achieve marital success read, Strong Marriage, Happy Life: The Core Principles of a Successful Marriage and How to Make Your Marriage Work by Sonya Dawson.

How do you know you’re in the Right Relationship?

Couple-Flirting

How do you know you’re in the Right Relationship?

Are you in a happy relationship with physical and emotional chemistry and a deep bond of trust? But you are still wondering if this is the right relationship, if this is the person you should stick with long term, even marry? There is no exact method you can use to find out if you are in the right relationship or not. But there are some indicators that this relationship is good, right, resilient, and will last. But how do you know you’re in the right relationship?

First, notice whether or not you have a plan B. What would you do if it all came apart right now? Of course you’d be devastated. That shows how much you really love this person. But not having a plan B means that you weren’t expecting it to end. If there’s no exit plan, your psyche is planning to go the distance with this one, and it should be consciously noted and recognized fully. Are there any subjects that you ignore? Are you harboring any resentment, anger, frustration or worry? Or do you two talk about and settle all of your differences? If superlative communication is the foundation of your relationship, if everything is out in the open and no hidden or unresolved issues linger behind the surface, if you two can settle all of your differences through talking it out, and you and your partner feel comfortable enough to discuss anything together then your relationship is in excellent shape.

Staying with just one person for the rest of your life can cause great fear and anxiety, no matter if the person is male or female. But if you think about staying with the person you’ve fallen in love with until you grow old, and you don’t feel fearful, but perhaps happy, inspired, content or even blessed, this is the right relationship for you. Some people feel that arguing is an unhealthy practice for a relationship. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Any relationship where arguments never occur means that one or more parties are harboring some problem, slight, or resentment that they haven’t shared with the other. Instead, healthy relationships have their fair share of squabbles. But how do you fight? Do you fight fair? Do either of you say things you can’t take back or don’t really mean? Is there a spiteful element? If not, and you two fight fairly than this is a good relationship to be in.

How about trust? Is either of you sneaking around, looking at the other’s texts, email, or social networking sites? If so, there are trust issues at work here. If not, this is a well-adjusted relationship. If nothing comes between you two, if your bond is strong no matter what happens, this is the right relationship for you. Stick with it. For more relationship advice read, The New “I Do”: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels by Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson.