Dating and Relationship Advice – 10 Psychology Studies Every Lover Should Know

Psychology of love: Brain map of love, the role of kissing, how couples come to look similar, what kills a relationship and more…

I loved researching and writing this piece! I learned some things about myself in the process!

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

From the initial moment of attraction to growing old together, here are 10 psychology studies that all lovers should know.

 

1. Falling in love takes one-fifth of a second

It takes a fifth-of-a-second for the euphoria-inducing chemicals to start acting on the brain when you are looking at that special someone.

Brain imaging studies of love suggest that 12 different areas of the brain are involved.

When looking or thinking about a loved one, these areas release a cocktail of neurotransmitters across the brain, including oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin and adrenaline.

The brain gets a similar ‘hit’ from love as it does from a small dose of cocaine.

No wonder coke is so popular.

 

2. Brain map of love and desire

The first study to look at the neural difference between love and sexual desire finds remarkable overlaps and distinct differences.

The results showed that some strikingly similar brain networks were activated by love and sexual desire.

The regions activated were those involved in emotion, motivation and higher level thoughts.

This psychology of love suggests that sexual desire is more than just a basic emotion, but involves goal-directed motivation and the recruitment of more advanced thoughts.

Love is built on top of these circuits, with one key area of difference being in the striatum. This area of the brain is typically associated with the balance between higher and lower-level functions.

 

3. Kissing helps us choose

Two new studies on kissing have found that apart from being sexy, kissing also helps people choose partners–and keep them.

In a survey, women in particular rated kissing as important, but more promiscuous members of both sexes rated kissing as a very important way of testing out a new mate.

But kissing isn’t just important at the start of a relationship; it also has a role in maintaining a relationship.

The researchers found a correlation between the amount of kissing that long-term partners did and the quality of their relationship.

This link wasn’t seen between more sex and improved relationship satisfaction.

 

4. Couples look more similar after 25 years together

People who live with each other for 25 years may develop similar facial features.

One study on the psychology of love has found that over 25 years of marriage the facial features of couples became more similar, as judged by independent observers.

This may be because of similarities in diet, environment, personality or even a result of empathizing with your partner over the years.

 

5. Long distance relationships can work

Contrary to the received wisdom, long distance relationships can work, according to new research.

Two factors that help keep long distance relationships alive are that these couples:

Tell each other more intimate information.

Have a more idealised view of their partner.

As a result, those in long distance relationships often have similar levels of relationship satisfaction and stability as those who are geographically close to each other.

 

6. Four things that kill a relationship stone dead

For over 40 years the psychologist Professor John Gottman has been analyzing the psychology of love.

He’s followed couples across decades in many psychological studies to see what kinds of behaviours predict whether they would stay together.

There are four things that kills relationships stone dead: repeated criticism, lots of expressions of contempt like sarcasm, being defensive and stonewalling, which is when communication almost completely shuts down.

 

7. Modern marriages demand self-fulfilment

The face of marriage has changed significantly over the years, according to new research.

It used to be more about providing safety and solidity, now people want psychological fulfilment from their marriages.

More than ever people expect marriage to be more of a journey towards self-fulfilment and self-actualization.

Unfortunately in the face of these demands, couples are not investing sufficient time and effort to achieve this growth.

The study’s author, Eli Finkel explained:

“In general, if you want your marriage to help you achieve self-expression and personal growth, it’s crucial to invest sufficient time and energy in the marriage. If you know that the time and energy aren’t available, then it makes sense to adjust your expectations accordingly to minimize disappointment.”

 

8. A simple exercise to save a marriage

If your relationship needs a little TLC, then there may be no need to go into therapy–watching a few movies together could do the trick.

A new three-year study finds that divorce rates were more than halved by watching movies about relationships and discussing them afterwards.

The study’s lead author, Ronald Rogge, said:

“The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. Thus, you might not need to teach them a whole lot of skills to cut the divorce rate.

You might just need to get them to think about how they are currently behaving. And for five movies to give us a benefit over three years–that is awesome.”

 

9. The post-divorce relationship

Even after divorce, relationships don’t necessarily end, especially if there are children.

A study of co-parenting post-divorce has found it can go one of five ways, the first three of which are considered relatively functional:

Dissolved duos, where (usually) the father disappears.

Perfect pals, where parents continue to be best friends.

Cooperative colleagues, where couples move on but remain on a good footing with each other.

Angry associates, where the fighting continues after the divorce.

Fiery foes, where children become pawns in the fight and usually suffer as a result.

 

10. It’s the little things

Finally, as we live in a highly commercialised world where we’re encouraged to think love can be bought and sold, it’s worth remembering that often it’s the small things that can make a difference.

A recent survey on the psychology of love of over 4,000 UK adults found that simple acts of kindness are often appreciated the most.

Bringing your partner a cup of tea in bed, putting the bins out or telling them they look good naked may all do a lot more than a box of chocolates or bunch of flowers (although these won’t hurt!).

Psychology of love

As the German poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke said:

“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”

Was this helpful? I’d love to hear your feedback in regard to this subject.

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Kaja – Monday… Sigh

I get a text on Sunday night. “Are we still on for Monday?” It’s Kaja. I just had lunch with her last Friday. (But she did close with the words, “When can I see you again?” with a hug and a kiss.)

I tell her I go to Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse every Monday for lunch at 1pm. She agrees to meet me and it’s on. I get there around noon so I can do some work and edit the week’s blogs because I was so busy writing about her I forgot to do it. I really wanted to get her story down because it was so good. (See: Kaja – 2003 to Present – Out of the Blue)

She arrives at 12:45. I like that. To me, punctuality is imperative. She looks great as always. This is the most I’ve ever seen her in a small space of time. With Kaja it was always pop in, and then pop out for another two years. But what’s happened in the past year has changed everything for the better.

I hope for her sake it stays that way.

She tells me more about prison. She says the food you get the first few weeks is worse than they describe it in the movies. It’s small portions of gross looking and worse tasking grub you can imagine. So she was basically starving for a couple of weeks. Maybe that’s to weaken the prisoners at first.

After a few weeks you can apply for commissary. A prison commissary (commissary being a word taken out of context in such situations) or canteen is a store within a correctional facility, from which inmates may purchase products such as hygiene items, snacks, writing instruments, etc. Spices, including those packaged with instant ramen noodles, are a popular item due to the often bland nature of prison food. Typically inmates are not allowed to possess cash; instead, they make purchases through an account with funds from money contributed by friends, family members, etc., or earned as wages. Typically, prisons set a maximum limit of funds that can be spent by each inmate on commissary; in the U.S. federal system, it is $290 per month. It’s generally prohibited for inmates to trade items purchased on commissary. However, certain items tend to be used as currency. Cigarettes were a classic medium of exchange, but in the wake of prison tobacco bans, postage stamps have become a more common currency item, along with any inexpensive, popular item that has a round number price such as 25 or 50 cents. As prison budgets are cut in the USA, ramen has become a popular commodity to supplement food needs. Mylar foil packets of mackerel fish or “macks” are one such item. In 1930, the U.S. Department of Justice authorized and established a commissary at each federal institution. Some prison commissaries are staffed by government employees and inmates, while others have been completely privatized. Significant price markups are common in prison commissaries, although some prison systems set maximum markups; for instance, the Delaware Department of Correction has a 20% maximum markup. $100 million in purchases were made from Texas’ prison system alone in 2009. Prison commissary is a privilege that is often taken away for infractions.

She said once she had commissary she ate a bunch of food and a lot of it was carbs and sugary food. I think she just stuffed her sadness with chow. She said she ballooned up to 180 lbs. She’s 5’9″ so when she was a dancer she was 120 lbs. She says, “Too skinny.” I say, “Super hot.” But now she’s 140 lbs. and would like to lose a few more. I still think she looks good, but she’s right. She shouldn’t look like an Estonian matron by the time she’s 40.

She clarifies that she went in for two months and was released on bail. But had to go back in and serve seven more months for all the other infractions. I’m not clear on this but basically she did a total of nine months in the can.

She’s apparently living with this old guy who isn’t all there. I’m thinking she may have met him back in her stripper days. She doesn’t get into the details of how she knows him, but apparently he’s retired, bi-polar and not all there. He just sits around all day and chain smokes and watches TV. She hates it there because he’s nuts and she never knows what she’s coming home to. (That’s bi-polar for you!) Sadly, all of her clothes smell like filthy cigarette smoke.

 

Back in jail she was in a cell that was a  big room, three stone walls and the front is all bars. But she’s in there with 19 other women. It’s all bunks. So take 20 women that are in for different offenses, throw them together. They’re sad, they’re depressed, and they’re angry. Throw in some PMS…That’s a powder keg waiting to go off.

So she said there was all kinds of drama, fights, and even some romance. Classic women’s prison movie stuff.

We go on and off topic and I’m sure more will come out as we hang out. Like I said, I’m just glad she’s okay. We have a delicious lunch together and I tell her my Monday ritual here at Cav’s. She says she has some more things to do, and has to make a few call and will let me know if she can stick around. Either way is fine with me. As I get older I enjoy most people in small doses.

Kaja goes outside and makes a few calls.

I continue editing phicklephilly until she returns. I get the last one finished, just as she approaches the table. She is such and elegant woman with such good manners I wonder how she got into all of the trouble she has. But if she sticks around long enough, I may get the story. I’m okay even if I don’t.

Kaja tells me she has to go. Now worries. I’ll do some writing and sip a Manhattan in a few hours. She drops $25 on the bill and a hug later she’s gone.

While I’m sitting there I get an email from Cavanaugh’s. It said that “You really like us and we really, really like you so we’re giving a free drink of your choice on us.”  How brilliant is this small chain of sports bars? They must know I use their wifi every Monday and see that I’m a trackable regular. They sent me a reward for spending money there on a weekly basis. That’s the future of advertising!

I show the coupon to Karina and she says your drink is free. So when I walked out of Cav’s my bill was $10. Peanuts!  Karina is now my #1 favorite female bartender in the city. Killer hospitality!

I text Roman over at Square and ask him if he’s working, and if it’s busy. (See: Roman – 2012 to Present – Rock and Roll Bartender)

“I am and it’s not.”

I pack up and head over. Normally I would have just gone home but I want to charge up my devices and write some more pieces. I have so many right now. I thought I’d be dry by now and writing about my past more but there are a lot of things going on.

I get there and sit at the end of the bar. It’s quiet. I plug everything in and I’m typing away. Roman sets a glass of chardonnay down and a glass of monster ice cubes. I like ice in my wine. Old networking trick. Water it down, and nobody knows what it is you’re drinking. It waters it down and you can keep going without losing your shit like everybody around you.

Almost like a magnet, people I know start coming in. They’re stopping by and chatting and catching up. It’s lovely. Even a server I thought didn’t like me comes over to chat. She’s telling me how she has been with an older man for over five years because he really appreciates her and treats her well.  (Well done, sir! She’s 29!)

After an hour or so I crack off a couple of pieces and pack up. I had maybe three Chardonnay. My bill was $5.50.

Hookup city!

I pay cash, tip heavily, and head home. I’ve had a lovely day surrounded by good people. That’s my life now. I’m blessed to have gotten to this place.

I go home and chat with my buddy Church on the phone.  (See: Church – 2014 to Present – Brand Ambassador) Daughter Lorelei is over in Jersey at her boyfriend’s house. I have the place to myself tonight. I’m in the command center, (My chair and ottoman in front of my 50″ flat screen watching Netflix . I light a cig and pour myself another glass of Chardonnay.

UPDATE: Kaja is back to working as a stripper in New York City!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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