follow up to monday morning survey: commitment readiness survey

While perusing the almighty Internet today, I stumbled over a Commitment Readiness Survey. It has some good questions and I like the format. It's posted on the Psychology Today website, which makes me like it even more (I love that magazine!). When you're done taking the survey, you're presented with a "snap shot" report of your commitment readiness. Of course, you have to pay for a full report if you need more information than just a snap shot. Anyways, I thought it might be helpful for those of you who took the Romantic Potential Survey on this blog and maybe wanted to know more about your own readiness to commit. Click here to take the Commitment Readiness Survey.

Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."

monday morning survey: what's your relationship potential?

Are you dating someone new? Do you think that he or she could be the one or are you worried that it might not be working out? You can find out your relationship's potential by taking this survey created by psychologists Alvin Pam, Robert Putchik, and Hope Conte.

The Romantic Potential Questionnaire

Get out a piece of paper. Number that piece of paper from 1 to 40. The following statements describe how you feel about a person with whom you have some sort of relationship. Rate each of the following statements on a scale of 1 to 10 using the following scale:

0 = you do not feel that way at all at the present time
5 = you feel that way moderately
10 = you feel that way strongly

1. You take his/her suggestions seriously.
2. You feel privileged to know him/her.
3. You think he/she copes well with his/her own problems.
4. He/she has unusual competence or skills.
5. He/she has better judgment than the average person.
6. He/she is more intelligent than the average person.
7. He/she is more ethical than the average person.
8. You respect him/her.
9. You and he/she get along well as a couple.
10. You like sharing experiences with him/her.
11. He/she does not say or do things that embarrass you.
12. He/she can accept you as you really are.
13. There are times when you seem to know what each wants without words.
14. You are confident he/she will stand by you through difficult times.
15. You feel he/she understands you.
16. You and he/she can work it out when you have a difference of opinion.
17. You like giving gifts to him/her.
18. You go out of your way to do the things he/she will enjoy.
19. You enjoy taking care of him/her.
20. You are willing to make sacrifices for him/her.
21. You get very angry if someone hurts him/her.
22. You suffer when he/she suffers.
23. You are willing to suffer to prevent him/her from suffering.
24. You would be willing to die for him/her.
25. You think he/she is better looking than average.
26. You like to show him/her off.
27. You spontaneously want to express affection toward him/her.
28. He/she is sexually attractive to you.
29. You like being touched by him/her.
30. You enjoy caressing him/her.
31. You want to embrace him/her.
32. You are sexually excited by him/her.
33. It is important to be noticed by him/her.
34. It is important to be praised by him/her.
35. You feel more secure when you are with him/her.
36. You feel good when he/she is sensitive to your moods and feelings.
37. You would be jealous if he/she became involved with someone else.
38. He/she is necessary for your present personal happiness.
39. He/she is necessary for the fulfillment of your needs.
40. You would suffer if you lost him/her.

There are five subscales to the Romantic Potential Questionnaire which include, Respect, Congeniality, Altruism, Physical Attraction, and Attachment. To find your score on each subscale, sum your responses to each item on the relevant subscale. The items belonging to each subscale are as follows:
  • Respect: items 1-8
  • Congeniality: items 9-16
  • Altruism: items 17-24
  • Physical Attraction: items 25-32
  • Attachment: items 33-40
Higher scores indicate higher levels of the characteristic, with total scores ranging from 0-80 on each subscale. For instance, individuals with a score of 62 or above on the Respect subscale, a score of 66 or higher in the Congeniality subscale, a score of 58 or higher in the Altruism subscale, a score of 69 or higher in the Physical Attraction subscale, or a score of 62 or higher in the Attachment subscale are all scores in the 85th percentile. If you have a score in this percentile, it means that you have more respect, congeniality, altruism, physical attraction, or attachment than 85 percent of people have for their partners, and therefore, also have a high romantic potential. On the other hand, if your Respect score is a 38 or below, your Congeniality score is a 42 or below, your Altruism score is a 34 or below, your Physical Attraction score is a 33 or below, and your Attachment score is a 32 or below, your score is in the 15th percentile. This would mean that only 15 percent of people have less respect, congeniality, altruism, physical attraction, or attachment than you have for your partner, and therefore, you also have a low romantic potential with your mate. Here are the scores for all percentiles:

  • Respect = 62 (85th percentile); 56 (70th percentile); 50 (50th percentile); 44 (30th percentile); & 38 (15th percentile)
  • Congeniality = 66 (85th percentile); 60 (70th percentile); 54 (50th percentile); 48 (30th percentile); 42 (15th percentile)
  • Altruism = 58 (85th percentile); 52 (70th percentile); 46 (50th percentile); 40 (30th percentile); 34 (15th percentile)
  • Physical Attraction = 69 (85th percentile); 60 (70th percentile); 51 (50th percentile); 42 (30th percentile); 33 (15th percentile)
  • Attachment = 62 (85th percentile); 55 (70th percentile); 47 (50th percentile); 39 (30th percentile); 32 (15th percentile)
  • Total Score (on all subscales) = 302 (85th percentile); 275 (70th percentile); 248 (50th percentile); 221 (30th percentile); 194 (15th percentile)

Researchers have discussed the impact of various combinations of these subscales. For instance, many individuals who have been in love for an extended period of time experience high levels of all five characteristics. Specifically, these individuals tend to have very high levels of Respect and Congeniality. It is important to note that relationships may not thrive as well on just these two characteristics, but instead, good relationships tend to have high levels of all five subscales, with an emphasis on these two.

On the other hand, individuals with strong feelings of Physical Attraction and Attachment, and perhaps even Altruism (with weak feelings of Respect and Congeniality), feel that they are hopelessly in love. Many of these same people, however, experience intense anger at their partners or may avoid introducing them to family and friends because they are embarrassed by them. In other words, despite an individual's belief that he or she has found his or her one true love, if he or she does not have strong feelings of Respect or Congeniality there can be some issues in the relationship. Researchers have claimed that if you have scores well above the 50th percentile in Physical Attraction and Attachment, but well below the 50th percentile in Respect and Congeniality, you might want to think long and hard before taking the plunge and making a commitment.

  • Janda, L. (1996). Love and sex tests: 24 revealing love, sex, ad relationship tests developed by psychologists. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
  • Pam, A., Plutchik, R., & Conte, H. R. (1975). Love: A psychometric approach. Psychological Reports, 37, 83- 88.

Other resources:

Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."

quick love tip: keep a love journal

Try to take 5 minutes out of each day to write a brief journal entry (anything from one sentence to an entire page) about why you love your partner. Maybe it was something that your partner did or said that made you want to write. Or maybe your partner didn't do anything, but instead, you just feel the urge to profess your love on paper. Whatever the reason, keeping a love journal will benefit you and your relationship.

Journaling about your partner will help you better appreciate him or her, and if you ever decide to share this journal with your mate, the experience can bring you closer as a couple and enhance feelings of intimacy between the two of you. Also, if you ever feel like you've been fighting way too much, looking back at your love journal can sometimes rekindle feelings you once had for your significant other and hopefully make you realize what's truly important. Interestingly, research (Floyd et al., 2007) has shown that writing down affectionate thoughts about your loved ones can actually reduce your cholesterol! So, start journaling today!

Click HERE to read all of my "quick love tips"

finding balance in your life

Having a high quality of life has always been really important to me. In fact, I'm sure that most of you who know me have heard me profess my love for this many times. I'm always making a conscious effort to balance the time and energy that I put towards my personal life and my work life. And, I'm very motivated to do this. For example, if my writing or teaching begins to suffer, I'll try to socialize less so that I can make more time for it. On the other hand, if I feel like I'm not spending enough time with Hus (aka- my husband) or with my friends, I'll cut back on my work-load by taking the day off or saying "no" to new project ideas. I feel like I'm only truly happy when my life is balanced.

media love: sex and the city

Charlotte: [After the wedding] I finally get to sleep with Trey.
Carrie: Excuse me?!
Miranda: You haven't slept with him yet?
Samantha: Honey, before you buy the car you take it for a test drive...

I don't think I can say it enough: I LOVE THESE GIRLS! I watched them for six seasons, cried when it was over, and then fell in love all over again when their movie came out this past summer (I saw it in the theater three times!). I love Carrie's creativity, wit, and love with being in love; I love Charlotte's innocence, kindness, and motherly instinct; I love Samantha's openness, spontaneity, and nonchalant attitude; but most of all, I love Miranda for her independence, success, and especially, for her sarcasm.

If you share my love for these four ladies, get ready, because the Sex and the City movie is coming to DVD tomorrow, September 23! Never seen Sex and the City? You're missing out!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, & Miranda:

Carrie: "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love."

Charlotte: "I read that if you don't have sex for a year, you can actually become re-virginized."

Samantha: "I think I have monogamy. I must have caught it from you people."

Miranda: "I'm determined to make partner in this firm, even if I have to be a lesbian partner."

Now that I think about it, I probably have such a strong love for these ladies because they remind me so much of some of my own favorite ladies... love you girls!

new web address!

Attention! My web address is officially changing from 

wise love words: relationships are like...

A few days a week, I teach an undergraduate Interpersonal Communication class. About a week ago, I asked my students to complete the following metaphor for homework: "Relationships are like ____________." Additionally, they were told to provide an explanation for their metaphor. This semester, I had numerous creative responses. Below are some of my favorites...

"Relationships are like a game of chess. It's important to try and keep the relationship pleasant and conflict free. So, just like when you're carefully choosing each move in a game of chess, picking your words and actions carefully in relationships is vital to your success. Also like chess, close relational bonds are tricky and can be difficult to understand. However, as your relationship grows (or as you play chess more often) it becomes much easier and you become more comfortable interacting with your partner (or more comfortable playing chess)."

"Relationships are like a game of football. Sometimes you need to be on the offense, while other times you need to play defense in order to become a great team. Like a football team, romantic relationships also take time to build trust and unity. There isn't a single football team that comes together and wins all of their games without a great deal of practice. Likewise, all relationships start from scratch. You try different techniques, make mistakes, learn from them, and grow stronger just like a winning football team."

"Relationships are like riding a roller coaster. They have their high points and their low points, but they're always a lot of fun."

"Relationships are like a new pair of shoes. When you first get a new pair of high heels, they can be really uncomfortable. But, the more and more you wear those shoes, the more comfortable you become in them. Also, like relationships, most people can decide whether they are going to wear those shoes ever again after 1 or 2 tries."

"Relationships are like chocolate chip cookies. In order for them to be successful, you need the correct ingredients. One wrong measurement or missed ingredient, and the cookie is not as good. Even if you have made some mistakes in the recipe, however, you still have a chocolate chip cookie, just not a very good one. So, like building relationships, making yummy cookies requires that you pay attention to the rules and give them enough of your time and effort."

I think there are a few love lessons we can take from my students' wise love words:
  • Relationships don't just happen overnight; they take time.
  • Relationships aren't easy; but instead, they're actually hard work.
  • Relationships have rules; and breaking these rules can sometimes hurt a relationship.
  • Relationships are comprised of specific components that make them successful.

So, the question is: what are relationships like to you?

Click HERE to read all of my "wise love words" posts

book i love: long distance couples

This is a great book for anyone in a long-distance relationship. It's a relatively short, easily read handbook with very useful, practical tips. Specifically, the book contains over 350 creative and romantic activities long-distance couples can use to help strengthen their relationships while they're apart. The best part is that you can usually find it on amazon for less than $7 or you can order the booklet version straight from the authors for as low as $2.50 (depending on how many copies you want)!

Here's a sample page from inside of the book:

Click HERE to read about other "books i love"

monday morning survey: how passionate is your love?

Lord Byron once said, "Love without passion is dreary and passion without love is horrific."

From Lee's (1973; 1988) six love styles to Sternberg's (1986) triangular theory of love, passion has been consistently identified as an important part of romantic relationships.

For instance, Sternberg (1986) artfully weaves the concept of passion into his triangular theory of love. Specifically, the theory states that love can consist of three components: commitment, intimacy, and passion. He goes on to explain that types of love are created by combining these three elements in different ways. For example, love that involves intimacy without commitment or passion is called liking/ friendship love. On the other hand, an individual who feels passion and commitment, but no intimacy is experiencing fatuous love. In the end, these three elements of love can be combined to create 8 different love types.

Like Sternberg (1986), Lee (1973; 1988) discusses passion in the description of his six love styles as well. The style that is filled with passion is known as eros. It's highly sensual and sometimes fantasy-like. Individuals with an eros love style believe in love-at-first-sight, desire intimacy, are very affectionate, and communicate openly. Couples with this love style, according to Lee, are fired up with intense feelings for one another.
As we all know, passion plays an important role in relationships. In fact, research has shown that for married women, as passionate love in their relationship increases, their level of marital satisfaction also increases (Aron & Henkemeyer, 1995). In addition, the reciprocation of passionate love for both men and women is linked to fulfillment and feelings of ecstasy (Hatfield & Rapson, 1996). Don't get me wrong, passionate lovers aren't always lying in a bed of roses. Feeling these intense emotions for another person can also ignite sensations of extreme anxiety or despair when things go south. Obsessive or jealous thoughts can also come into play with passionate love.

In the mid 1980s, Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher developed an instrument known as the Passionate Love Scale, which continues to be widely used today to measure the passion thermometer in relationships. YOU can take this survey to find out how passionate your love is.

  • Aron, A., & Henkemeyer, L. (1995). Marital satisfaction and passionate love. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12, 139-146.
  • Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). Measuring passionate love in intimate relations. Journal of Adolescence, 9, 383-410.
  • Lee, J. A. (1973). The colors of love. Don Mills, Ontario: New Press.
  • Lee, J. A. (1988). Love styles. In R. J. Sternberg & M. Barnes (Eds.), The psychology of love (pp. 38-67). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119-135.

More resources:
Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."

wise love words: choose yourself as your first partner

Scarleteen is one of my favorite websites. I love it. The website discusses all sorts of sexual issues from protecting yourself against STIs & STDs to improving your sex life when you're in a healthy relationship. It's great. Just great.

Check out this article by Heather Corinna, the creator of the, about 10 of the best things you can do for your sexual self, at any age.

Click HERE to read all of my "wise love words" posts

quick love tip: compliment your partner

Flattery is one of the best ways to make someone feel special, especially the one you love. When we see our partners all of the time, we may forget to tell them when they looked beautiful or when they did something kind. Make an effort to compliment your partner-- about anything. You could tell your mate that he is an excellent cook when he makes a great dinner or tell your wife that she looks beautiful or tell your boyfriend that he is an amazing comforter when he helps you get through a tough time. However you decide to do it, flattery can easily boost someone's self-esteem and overall happiness.

Click HERE to read all of my "quick love tips"

hi honey, how was your day?

Hus (aka- my husband) usually gets home from work after I do. Saying that, on most nights, we have a pretty consistent after-work routine. And it goes a little something like this: First, I'm usually working in my office upstairs when the dogs begin to bark uncontrollably, and when I say uncontrollably, I mean it. We have three dogs who are not always on their best behavior. I go downstairs to greet Hus and give him a kiss hello. He goes to the kitchen, takes his shoes off, and then we both walk back upstairs. Since Hus' job requires that he get dirty through out his day, he always takes a shower before dinner. And while he showers, I sit in the bathroom and we each talk about the significant, and sometimes not-so-significant, events of our day. I'm serious, we do this almost every night. We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then we go back downstairs, I usually make dinner, we continue our conversation, we eat together, discipline our heathen dogs (there's always something going on with them), and we watch a few of our favorite shows before going bed. There are definitely a few variations to our routine from day to day, but no matter what we actually end up doing on a given night, we almost always have our daily discussion in the loo.

I've always really enjoyed these conversations, and recently, I read an interesting journal article that has further solidified my opinion of the importance of this rather simple communication activity. Hicks and Diamond (2008) published an article in Personal Relationships that examines the impact that disclosing day-to-day activities with your partner has on your daily feelings and emotions.

Participants in this study included 48 married or cohabitating heterosexual couples (so, a total of 96 people), all of whom had been together for more than two years. Each individual within each couple was given a diary to write in at the end of every day for 21 days. Each day, the participants were asked to write down and describe their most positive experience and their most stressful or bothersome experience of that day. Then, they were told to rate each experience on a scale of 1 to 7 based on how positive the positive experience was and based on how stressful the stressful experience was. After they described these two events and rated them, they were asked to indicate whether or not they disclosed the event to their partner that day. Lastly, partners also completed a survey (the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) that assessed their positive and negative emotions during each day of the study.

The research findings here were quite interesting.
  • First, telling and being told about positive events were both significantly associated with positive feelings at the end of the day for both men and women. I know what you're thinking: the participants were likely happier because they experienced positive events during their day, not because they talked about them. This was not so. Individuals who did not disclose their positive experiences with their mates reported less positive emotions at the end of their day than individuals who did discuss their positive experiences with their partners. So, it wasn't about whether people experienced positive events or not (each person had one positive event each day), it was about whether they told their significant other about those events that mattered most when it came down to their emotions. Likewise, individuals' emotions were not necessarily influenced just because their partners experienced positive events; but instead, people were happier at the end of the day when their partners discussed those positive experiences with them.
  • Second, contrary to the authors' predictions, neither telling nor being told about stressful events were associated with heightened negative emotions. So, an individual's own emotions were not impacted by whether they talked about or were told about the stressful experiences of the day.
  • Third, participants' daily emotions were also influenced by whether their partners were involved in their most positive and most stressful experiences of their day. Specifically, men reported an equal amount of positive emotions when their most positive event of that day involved their partner versus when they disclosed their most positive event (not involving their partner) to their partner. For women, however, disclosure was more influential on their emotions than having their partners involved in the positive experiences. As for stressful events, both men and women reported higher negative emotions when their most stressful event of the day involved their partner than when they disclosed a stressful event (not involving their partner) to their partner.

What does all of this mean?
  • Talking to your mate about the positive aspects of his or her day is more than just small talk; it's an important conversation that you should engage in to increase positive emotions in yourself and in your mate.

So, whether you're a college student in your first serious relationship, a twenty-something hoping that he's "the one," happily married with a few energetic children, or an empty-nester enjoying a quite house again, according to Hicks and Diamond (2008), asking your partner about his or her day may lead to increased feelings of happiness, closeness, and intimacy in your relationship.

  • Hicks, A. M., & Diamond, L. M. (2008). How was your day? Couples' affect when telling and hearing daily events. Personal Relationships, 15, 205- 228.

cartoon love: hilarious

book i love: how to say it for couples

This book is great! The author, Dr. Paul Coleman, provides very specific examples of how to communicate in many different situations. From discussing sexual history to fighting about money to listening with love to dealing with the death of a child, this book covers it all. Each brief chapter tells you how to say it, and maybe even more importantly, how to not say it. I think it's a great book that can help couples learn how to communicate with tenderness, openness, and honesty (as the title of the book clearly states).

Below is the description provided by the author:

Couples, whether married or unmarried, living together, or dating, often complicate their relationship with ineffective communication. It’s certainly no secret that the wrong word or phrase can transform a mild disagreement into a stubborn standoff. With hundreds and hundreds of examples of the best way to speak to one another, How to Say It® for Couples clarifies the most common differences in communication style between the sexes so couples won’t trip up.

More than just general communication advice, the book provides readers with the phrases and words to use in specific situations or on specific topics, such as in-laws, tying the knot, physical appearance, child-rearing, sex, and much more. Throughout, this unique guide reveals the secrets of successful communication, from how to cut back on nagging to what men especially need to do when they don’t want to talk. Readers will quickly discover their own conversation strengths and weaknesses and learn how to say the right thing in any situation.

Essential for anyone involved in a romantic relationship, How to Say It® for Couples is a resource that couples can rely on for clear, concise, state-of-the-art information about healthy, effective communication.

Click HERE to read about other "books i love"

monday morning survey: how much do you trust your partner?

Jack: So, where are you going tonight?
Jill: Out with the girls.
Jack: Can I come?
Jill: No one else's partners are coming. I think it would be weird to have you come out on "girl's night."
Jack: Oh. So, where are you all going?
Jill: This new nightclub downtown. It's opening night, so there will be a lot of great drink specials. It's going to be packed.
Jack: Why would you go there? None of you are single. And are you planning on wearing that? You'll have guys hanging all over you! You're not going to cheat on me are you?
Jill: What the hell Jack? Don't you trust me?!

Have you ever felt like Jack? How about like Jill? The issue of trust can cause serious conflict in romantic relationships. Although researchers have named trust as an extremely valuable component of any successful relationship, many individuals continue to have difficulty trusting their partners.

Many of you may be thinking: I wouldn't have been upset if my significant other wanted to go out with his or her friends to a nightclub! What if your mate said that he or she was going to a strip club or to a party at an ex-partner's house? Would your feelings of trust change?

The truth is, many of us argue about trust to varying degrees in our relationships. Whether you're fighting about how you can't depend on your partner or about your mate's unpredictable behavior, almost everyone has felt some level of mistrust at some point.

You can find out how much you really trust your partner by taking the survey below. You can also have your partner take the survey. If the two of you have differing feelings of trust, opening the lines of communication about it now (when you're not fighting about it) instead of later (when you are fighting about it) may be beneficial to your relationship.

The Trust Scale
Get out a piece of paper. Number that piece of paper from 1 to 18. Rate each of the following statements based on the degree to which you agree or disagree with it, using the following scale:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = mildly disagree
4 = neutral
5 = mildly agree
6 = moderately agree
7 = strongly agree

1. I know how my partner is going to act. My partner can always be counted on to act as I expect.
2. I have found that my partner is a thoroughly dependable person, especially when it comes to things that are important.
3. My partner's behavior tends to be quite variable. I can't always be sure what my partner will surprise me with next.
4. Though times may change and the future is uncertain, I have faith that my partner will always be ready and willing to offer me strength, come what may.
5. Based on my past experience, I cannot, with complete confidence, rely on my partner to keep promises made to me.
6. It is sometimes difficult for me to be absolutely certain that my partner will always continue to care for me; the future holds too many uncertainties and too many things can change in our relationship as time goes on.
7. My partner is a very honest person, and even if my partner were to make unbelievable statements, people should feel confident that what they are hearing is the truth.
8. My partner is not very predictable. People can't always be certain how my partner is going to act from one day to another.
9. My partner has proven to be a faithful person. No matter who my partner was married to or dating, she or he would never be unfaithful, even if there were absolutely no chance of being caught.
10. I am never concerned that unpredictable conflicts and serious tensions may damage our relationship because I know we can weather any storm.
11. I am very familiar with the patterns of behavior my partner has established, and he or she will behave in certain ways.
12. If I have never faced a particular issue with my partner before, I occasionally worry that he or she won't take my feelings into account.
13. Even in familiar circumstances, I am not totally certain my partner will act the same way twice.
14. I feel completely secure in facing unknown new situations because I know my partner will never let me down.
15. My partner is not necessarily someone others always consider reliable. I can think of some times when my partner could not be counted on.
16. I occasionally find myself feeling uncomfortable with the emotional investment I have made in our relationship because I find it hard to completely set aside my doubts about what lies ahead.
17. My partner has not always proven to be trustworthy in the past, and there are times when I am hesitant to let my partner engage in activities that make me feel vulnerable.
18. My partner behaves in a consistent manner.

MORE INSTRUCTIONS: Now, add up the score for each of the 18 items. But wait! First, "reverse code" nine of the eighteen items. Basically, this means that if you put 1, you should make it a 7. So,
  • 1 = 7 & 7 = 1
  • 2 = 6 & 6 = 2
  • 3 = 5 & 5 = 3
  • 4 = 4
Do this "reverse-coding" for item #s 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16, & 17. Next, add up all of the numbers for the 18 items. Higher scores indicate higher levels of trust.

Researchers John Rempel and John Holmes, who created this scale, believe that trust is comprised of three components. First, there's predictability, which involves our abilities to anticipate what our partners will do. While unpredictable partners can be adventurous, we usually take comfort in knowing that our mates will be considerate of us and others, pay the bills, or be on time to an event. Being able to trust our mates in this manner is important. I think it's important to note here that it's better to be able to predict positive behaviors over negative ones. This aspect of trust really develops from the confidence that we have about our partners making positive contributions to our relationships. The second component, according to Rempel & Holmes (1986), involves being able to depend on our partners when it really counts. When we experience dependability with our partners, we are able to be vulnerable around them because we can depend on them to understand, comfort, and help us when needed. The third element of trust, faith, involves the ability to put aside uncertainties you may have about your mate. Individuals with high faith in their relationships have security in knowing that they can and are planning a future with their partners. All of these components combined creates an overall feeling of trust.

Research has shown that trust generally develops from the experiences that we have with our significant others. However, some individuals are more inclined to be more or less trusting than others, regardless of their experiences. Rempel and Holmes offer a couple of suggestions for individuals who may be more prone to not trusting their mates:
  • Guard against over-interpretting negative behavior.
  • Be both sensitive and appreciative of your partner's positive behavior.
Untrusting people are likely to ignore ten instances of positive behavior, and instead, focus on one instance of negative behavior. Be aware of your partner's positive behavior and you may come to realize that you trust your partner more that you once thought.

  • Rempel, J. K., & Holmes, J. G. (1986). How do I trust thee? Psychology Today (February 1996): 28-34.

Other resources about trust:

why YOU should be having sex, sex, and more sex

How many times a week do you have sex? Okay, maybe we need to back it up a bit: How many times a month do you have sex? If you can't answer that one, you definitely need to read this. How about this question: Do you enjoy the sex that you have? Are you sexually satisfied in your relationship? Here's an even better one: how often do you orgasm?

What if I told you that having sex, actually enjoying it, and especially orgasming multiple times a week is related to numerous health benefits, emotional well-being, and even a longer life! Would you put down the computer and head off to the bedroom?

Well, as you might have guessed, an active sex life is associated with a lot of great things, both physical and psychological. Let's start off with some of the physical perks:

1. Heart Disease
A 10 year longitudinal study of men living in South Whales found that men who had sex 2 or more times a week also had a lower incidence of fatal heart disease events than those who had sex less often (even after adjusting for age and other risk factors associated with heart disease) (Smith, Frankel, & Yarnell, 1997). Other studies have discovered a significant relationship between a hormone released during orgasm (DHEA) and a reduction in the risk for heart disease (Feldman et al., 1998). Furthermore, in a study of Israeli women, those who had a history of sexual dissatisfaction (usually due to a partner's impotence or illness) had a higher history of heart attacks than those who were more sexually satisfied (Abramov, 1976).

2. Prostate Cancer
Leitzmann and colleagues (2004) found that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month (that's a little over 5 times a week!) had a decreased risk of total and organ-confined prostate cancer! According to the authors, this is likely due to the fact that ejaculation has been shown to flush out carcinogenic substances from the prostate.

3. Breast Cancer
In France, Le and colleagues (1989) examined frequency of sexual intercourse among women. A higher risk of breast cancer was associated with minimal sexual experiences, which was defined as less than once a month! In addition, a case-control study in Greece found that men who experienced more orgasms during adulthood had a lower incidence of breast cancer than men who orgasmed less (Petridou et al., 2000).

4. Endometriosis
In a study of 2,012 American women, sexual activity and orgasm during menstruation was linked to lower incidence of endometriosis (Meaddough et al., 2002).

5. Physical Appearance
In 1998, Weeks and James conducted a study where they had a group of judges evaluate the ages of over 3,500 men and women. Individuals with an active sex life were rated as much younger than their actual age. Specifically, those who were rated as 7 to 12 years younger than their actual age also reported having sex 3 or more times a week.

6. Sleep
Orgasms have also been shown to help people sleep. In particular, oxytocin and endorphins, which are released during orgasms, are said to act as a sedative (Odent, 1999).

7. Longer Life!
Researchers followed 252 individuals over a 25 year period, examining factors that contributed to a longer life (Palmore, 1982). Over the 25 year period, sexual intercourse was consistently related to longevity. Men who reported higher frequency of sex lived longer than men who had sex less often. Interestingly, frequency was not as important for women. Instead, women who reported more enjoyment and satisfaction with the sex they had were more likely to live longer than women who were dissatisfied. So, while a man's longevity was related to quantity, it was all about quality for women. Another study (Smith et al., 1997) examined frequency of orgasm and death risk in South Whales. This study had participants take medical exams, report sexual activity, and disclose other demographic information (i.e. social class, age, race, smoking status, etc.). After controlling for medical, physical, and social variables that may contribute to mortality, researchers found a strong relationship between frequency of orgasm and risk of death, with more orgasms equaling a lower risk of death.

Now, onto the mental benefits...

1. Mental Illness & Depression
Stiefelhagen (1994) discovered that individuals who were psychiatric patients benefited from having sex. Specifically, engaging in sexual intercourse decreased the need for psychiatric medications. A 2002 study of 300 sexually active college women found that exposure to semen (sex without a condom) was associated with lower levels of depression when compared to women who sometimes used condoms, women who always used condoms, and women who didn't have sex (Gallup et al., 2002).

2. Stress
Increased levels of oxytocin (which is released during orgasm) has been shown to reduce stress (Weeks, 2002). Lower levels of oxytocin are associated with anxiety disorders. Furthermore, Charnetski and Brennan (2001) found that sex with and without orgasm can reduce stress.

3. Intimacy
Again, when oxytocin is released during orgasm, feelings of affection, intimacy, and closeness with a sexual partner increase (Odent, 1999; Weeks, 2002). Masturbation can also increase intimacy. A 1991 study of young married women found that those who reported masturbating also reported greater marital satisfaction (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991).

4. Self-Esteem
In a study of women, Hurlbert and Whittaker (1991) found that positive sexual experiences and accepting one's sexuality and sexual desires may increase self-esteem. Additionally, the researchers discovered an association between masturbation and self-esteem, with women scoring higher on self-esteem scales when they masturbated more often.

5. Overall Quality of Life
Sexual expereinces and sexual satisfaction have long been associated with quality of life. For instance, Laumann et al. (1994) surveyed over 3,500 men and women. They found a statistically significant relationship between reports of happiness and frequency of orgasm. Additionally, a 2002 study discovered strong relationships between sexual satisfaction and quality of life, with individuals who reported higher sexual satisfaction also experiencing a higher quality of life (Weeks, 2002). In 1988, over 4,000 American women were surveyed about their sense of well-being and their interest in sex (Warner & Bancroft). Researchers found a strong link between the two variables, with women reporting heightened sexual desire during times of increased well-being.

I know, I know: this all sounds AMAZING! Before you get overly excited, however, I think we need to have a brief discussion about correlational research. When individuals do this type of research, they cannot determine which variable is the cause and which is the effect. They can only say that there is a relationship or association between the two variables. For example, if you hear that people who shop are also happy, you know that there is a relationship between shopping and happiness. However, you don't know whether shopping causes people to be happy or whether happiness causes people to shop; both seem valid. For correlational research to be more rigorous, researchers must control for any other variables that might impact the strength of the relationship between the two variables under question. Back to the example, you might say that people who shop are happy because most people who shop are also wealthy, which could additionally contribute to happiness. A good researcher would control for this variable (i.e. wealth) by asking participants to report their income and seeing if the majority of shoppers were also wealthy. If wealth doesn't matter, then the relationship between happiness and shopping is considered stronger. The problem is that we just don't know which came first: the shopping or the happiness. This does not mean that correlational studies are worthless. Quite the contrary. Significant relationships found between two variables can provide us with very important knowledge. You just need to use your critical thinking skills when reading about this type of research.

*Note: Only some of the studies cited above were correlational in nature.*

Now you've read this entire post, but you still...
  • ...don't have a significant other: As you've probably noticed, a lot of the research cited above dealt with number of orgasms as opposed to actual frequency of sexual intercourse. So, you can masturbate and still reap many of the benefits discussed above.
  • ... don't like the sex you're having: One of the best ways to improve your sex life is to open the lines of communication between you and your partner. Disclosing your sexual likes and dislikes to your mate can improve sexual and relationship satisfaction, bring you closer as a couple, increase feelings of intimacy and trust between the two of you, and even increase pleasure during sexual activities. You could also try new sexual positions if you don't like your current sex life. Cosmopolitan Magazine's website has a column they call the "Sex Position of the Week" that could be helpful. Trying something new may increase your sexual satisfaction.
  • ... don't have enough time: Make time! Sex is an important part of our lives. Even if making time to you means once a week, you should always make time to share these intimate (and very beneficial) moments with your partner.

Whatever you do today, try and make time for sex tonight!

  • Abramov, L. A. (1976). Sexual life and sexual frigidity among women developing acute myocardial infarction. Psychosomatic Medicine, 38, 418-425.
  • Charnetski, C. J., & Brennan, F. X. (2001). Feeling good is good for you: How pleasure can boost your immune system and lengthen your life. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Feldman, H. A. et al. (1998). Low dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and heart disease in middle-aged men: Cross-sectional results from the Massachusetts male aging study. Annals of Epidemiology, 8, 217- 228.
  • Gallup, G. et al. (2002). Does semen have antidepressant properties? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 289- 293.
  • Hurlbert, D. F., & Whittaker, K. E. (1991). The role of masturbation in marital and sexual satisfaction: A comparative study of female masturbators and nonmasturbators. Journal of Sex Education & Therapy, 17, 272- 282.
  • Laumann, E. O. et al. (1994). The social organization of sexuality- Sexual practice in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago.
  • Le, M. G. et al. (1989). Characteristics of reproductive life and of breast cancer in a case-control study of young Nulliparous women. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 42, 1227-1233.
  • Leitzmann, M. F. et al. (2004). Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA, 291, 1578- 1586.
  • Meaddough, E. L. et al. (2002). Sexual activity, orgasm, and tampon use are associated with a deceased risk for endometriosis. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 53, 163- 169.
  • Odent, M. (1999). The scientification of love. London, UK: Free Association Books Limited.
  • Palmore, E. (1982). Predictors of the longevity difference: A twenty-five year follow-up. The Gerontologist, 22, 513- 518.
  • Petridou, E. et al. (2000). Endocrine correlates of male breast cancer risk: A case control study in Athens, Greece. British Journal of Cancer, 83, 1234-1237.
  • Smith, D. A. et al. (2005). Abdominal diameter index: A more powerful anthropometric measure of prevalent coronary heart disease risk in adult males. Diabetes Obesity Metabolism, 7, 370-380.
  • Warner, P., & Bancroft, J. (1988). Mood, sexuality, oral contraceptives, and the menstrual cycle. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 32, 417- 427.
  • Weeks, D., & James, J. (1998). Secrets of the super young. New York: Berkley Books.
  • Weeks, D. J. (2002). Sex for the amture adult: Health, self-esteem and countering ageist stereotypes. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17, 231- 240.

Other resources for improving your sex life:
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