Menus Subscribe Search
(PHOTO: MMX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

(PHOTO: MMX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Contemplating Crushes: A Scholarly Look at Love

• February 13, 2013 • 11:13 PM

(PHOTO: MMX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

For Valentine’s Day, a roundup of recent research on romance and relationships.

You’re The One That I Want

The idea that opposites attract is a long-time movie standby: Just think of Danny and Sandy from Grease (well, at least before she bought leather pants and got a perm). Sadly, this may be misleading to romantic hopefuls. A study published in Personality and Individual Differences reveals that similarities in personality may help predict longevity in relationships. Close to 5,000 couples were tracked over a five-year period, their personalities assessed at the beginning and end of this time. The results revealed that initial evidence of personality congruence was a predictor for partnership longevity. In other words, the like-minded were more likely to stay together. Side note:  There was no indication that couples’ personalities become more similar over time, so those Taming of the Shrew fantasies may have to be put to rest.

Let’s Stay Together

University of Missouri study reports happily married couples are more likely than perpetually bickering ones to stay healthier as they age. Assistant professor Christine Proulx analyzed data from 707 continuously married adults who participated in a 20-year long nationwide research project and found that health is affected by positive or negative relationships throughout marriage. Proulx states, “We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage might also benefit your health as you age.”

Stand By Me

Feeling extremely close to your romantic partner may not be what matters most. A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health states that was does matter is if you’re at the intimacy level you desire. After studying a sample of 732 men and women, lead author David M. Frost found that people who crave a more intimate partnership and those who desire more distance are at equal risk for having relationship problems. It was the degree of difference between a person’s actual and ideal closeness that correlated with a poor relationship quality, regardless of the couple’s actual closeness. Stating what you want appears to be the key, so, a la Girls’ Hannah, you may just need to set your priorities straight.

Lovers And Friends

Harry and Sally, Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam: Some of pop culture’s beloved couples united by the tension of friendship vs. romance.  To settle our own debate over risking a friendship for love, we can turn to the social sciences, including some interesting research from Purdue University. That study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found a link between valuing friendship within a romance and a variety of positive relationship qualities, including love, sexual gratification, and romantic commitment. The results also revealed that valuing the friendship with a partner is positively associated with the romance lasting. So your long-time pal may be a better pick than that blind date.

All the Single Ladies

If you’re single, you may feel like Beyoncé one moment and Bridget Jones the next. Why’s that? It may depend on how your singlehood is presented to you. Researchers at the University of Exeter found that singles felt worse about their love life when they read or wrote about how singles differ from people in romantic relationships, compared to when the question was turned around (i.e., when they were asked “how coupled people differ from singles”). Being pegged as different, and having to explain how, apparently leads to negative feelings. So if you’re single this Valentine’s Day, it may be best to stay away from anything Nicholas Sparks-related.

Sarah Sloat
Sarah Sloat is an editorial fellow with Pacific Standard. She was previously selected as an intern for the Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program and has studied abroad in both Argentina and the U.K. Sarah has recently graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with a degree in Global and International Studies. Follow her on Twitter @sarahshmee.

More From Sarah Sloat

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

August 20 • 4:00 PM

Why Can’t Conservatives See the Benefits of Affordable Child Care?

Private programs might do a better job of watching our kids than state-run programs, but they’re not accessible to everyone.


August 20 • 2:00 PM

Oil and Gas Companies Are Illegally Using Diesel Fuel in Hundreds of Fracking Operations

An analysis by an environmental group finds hundreds of cases in which drillers used diesel fuel without obtaining permits and sometimes altered records disclosing they had done so.


August 20 • 12:00 PM

The Mystery of Britain’s Alien Big Cats

In a nation where the biggest carnivorous predator is a badger, why are there so many reported sightings of large cats?


August 20 • 10:00 AM

Death Row in Arizona: Where Human Experimentation Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Recent reports show that chemical roulette is the state’s M.O.


August 20 • 9:51 AM

Diversity Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Perception of group diversity depends on the race of the observer and the extent to which they worry about discrimination.


August 20 • 8:40 AM

Psychopathic or Just Antisocial? A Key Brain Difference Tells the Tale

Though psychopaths and antisocial people may seem similar, what occurs in their brains isn’t.


August 20 • 8:00 AM

What the Cost of Raising a Child in America Tells Us About Income Inequality

You’ll spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise a kid in the United States, or about five times the annual median income.


August 20 • 6:00 AM

In Praise of ‘American Greed’

While it remains semi-hidden on CNBC and can’t claim the car chases of Cops, American Greed—now with eight seasons in the books—has proven itself a worthy endeavor.


August 20 • 4:00 AM

Of Course I Behaved Like a Jerk, I Was Just Watching ‘Jersey Shore’

Researchers find watching certain types of reality TV can make viewers more aggressive.


August 20 • 2:00 AM

Concluding Remarks About Housing Affordability and Supply Restricitions

Demand, not supply, plays the dominant role in explaining the housing affordability crisis. The wages are just too damn low.


August 19 • 4:00 PM

Can Lawmakers Only Make Laws That Corporations Allow?

There’s a telling detail in a recent story about efforts to close loopholes in corporate tax laws.




August 19 • 12:00 PM

How ‘Contagion’ Became Contagious

Do ideas and emotions really spread like a virus?


August 19 • 10:00 AM

Child Refugees: The New Barbarians

The disturbing rhetoric around the recent rise in child refugees into the United States from Central America may be shaping popular opinion on upcoming immigration reform.


August 19 • 8:00 AM

Making Police Departments More Diverse Isn’t Enough

Local police departments should reflect the communities they serve, but fixing that alone won’t curb unnecessary violence.


August 19 • 7:15 AM

Common Knowledge Makes Us More Cooperative

People are more inclined to take mutually beneficial risks if they know what others know.


August 19 • 6:00 AM

Seeking a Healthy Public School Lunch? Good Luck

Mystery meat will always win.


August 19 • 4:00 AM

The Positive Effects of Sports-Themed Video Games

New research finds sports-themed video games actually encourage some kids to get onto the field.


August 19 • 1:00 AM

DIY Diagnosis: How an Extreme Athlete Uncovered Her Genetic Flaw

When Kim Goodsell discovered that she had two extremely rare genetic diseases, she taught herself genetics to help find out why.



August 18 • 3:30 PM

Mister Rogers’ Heart-Healthy Neighborhood

Researchers find living in a friendly, cohesive neighborhood lowers seniors’ chances of having a heart attack.


August 18 • 2:00 PM

Wealth or Good Parenting?

Framing the privileges of the rich.


August 18 • 12:00 PM

How Much Did the Stigma of Mental Illness Harm Robin Williams?

Addiction treatment routinely fails people with mental illnesses, while mental health care often ignores addiction. And everywhere, stigma is rife. Can a tragic death prompt a more intelligent approach?


August 18 • 10:00 AM

Punished for Being Poor: The Problem With Using Big Data in the Justice System

Correctional departments use data-driven analyses because they’re easier and cheaper than individual assessments. But at what cost?


Follow us


Diversity Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Perception of group diversity depends on the race of the observer and the extent to which they worry about discrimination.

Psychopathic or Just Antisocial? A Key Brain Difference Tells the Tale

Though psychopaths and antisocial people may seem similar, what occurs in their brains isn’t.

Common Knowledge Makes Us More Cooperative

People are more inclined to take mutually beneficial risks if they know what others know.

How a Shift in Human Head Shape Changed Everything

When did homo sapiens become a more sophisticated species? Not until our skulls underwent "feminization."

Journalists Can Get PTSD Without Leaving Their Desks

Dealing with violent content takes a heavy toll on some reporters.

The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014 fast-food-big-one
Subscribe Now

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.