student love lesson: how taking control of your relationship may be destroying it

This is one of my Student's Love Lessons

Written by: Emily Baron; Edited by: Me

Ladies, you might think that consistently making decisions about where you want to eat, whether you want to hang out, or what you want to watch on television may make your man’s life easier, but in reality, you could be tearing your relationship apart. A study done at the University of Minnesota entitled “Balance of Power and Influence in Relationships: The Role of Self-Monitoring” revealed that partners in a relationship where the power and control is unequal typically experience an unsatisfying and impersonal relationship (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010). So, you may want to think twice the next time you begin to plan out your week for you and your beau.

This study in Minnesota used a variety of methods to determine “Who influences whom and with what effect?” (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010, p. 24). Specifically, they were examining high and low self-monitors.

  • Low self-monitors typically have less feelings of commitment and happiness with their significant others if they are not equal in power. In addition, you can tell if your man is a low self-monitor if he is frequently expressing what he believes even if it may offend those around him. Low self-monitors rarely have a filter and try to be themselves in any given situation, no matter the cost.
  • High self-monitors, on the other hand, are concerned with what others think of them and how they can alter their behaviors in order to fit in better within a group (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010).
If your partner is normally uncensored (a low self-monitor), you could be damaging his perception of you and the relationship when you make most of the decisions. It’s not much of a surprise that he may want to take off running when you lay out his clothes the night before so he doesn’t have to. The two of you working together to make decisions makes a stronger bond and a closer relationship. If you’re dealing with a high self-monitored guy, you’re in luck. From the research, they seem to be less concerned with the equality of the control in your relationship and tend to be more concerned about how others view it. If you enjoy making all decisions or none at all, this is the man for you.

The researchers surveyed 227 University of Minnesota students. Out of the 227, 192 were dating one person, 21 were dating more than one person, 10 were engaged, and 4 were married. Some questions asked included, “Overall, who is committed to the relationship – you or your partner?” “Who makes decisions about what you do as a couple?”, and “How upset do you think you would be immediately after the breakup?” (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010, p. 30-32). The answers to these questions helped researchers determine that individuals who are not concerned with their self-images are much less likely to be committed to a relationship if they feel like the partnership isn’t equal.

When low self-monitored participants were surveyed, a vast majority of the results showed that the more equivalent the roles of the partners, the more content and satisfied they felt about the relationship. If your boyfriend, fiancée, or husband is classified as this personality type, it is definitely in your best interest to discuss feelings, share experiences, suggest options, and show that you trust him in your everyday actions. When your guy feels like his commitment is asymmetrical, he is much less likely to stick around and stay with you. This type of man wants a more symmetrical relationship and you can accomplish this with ease as long as you are willing to compromise and listen to his thoughts and beliefs. The good news (I think) is that this type of person is more likely to experience great distress and sorrow if the relationship was to suddenly end, meaning that he would much rather work through the problems between the two of you than end it and move on (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010).

No matter what kind of guy you're with though, you should always try to follow these steps. The first step includes allowing your man to realize that you are in the relationship for the long haul and that you intend to stick with him through thick and thin. Expressing your commitment is always a good thing! The second step entails stressing the importance of him in the relationship and how he affects it. Third, you could frequently ask your partner how he feels about an issue or circumstance and encourage him to share his true feelings. If your man is a “people-pleaser” it can put a huge strain on your relationship and create a permanent rift between the two of you. Before this problem becomes too large, you can help to minimize it through communication and visible equality.

It's important to note that very few guys on this planet are exclusively low or high self-monitored. In our society, almost all individuals are concerned with what people are doing around them and how people interpret what they are doing. A desire to belong and be accepted is normal for every person, including your own tough guy. And, most people have an inclination to speak their minds and not always think about how their words may impact others as well. In the end, you want to try and be an equal teammate and play the role of his confidant. Be his female equivalent and the two of you should have a long, happy future ahead of you.


  • Fuglestad, P. T., & Snyder, M. (2010). Balance of power and influence in relationships: The role of self-monitoring. Journal of Social And Personal Relationships, 27, 25-46.

shallow gals

This is one of my Student's Love Lessons entitled, "Shallow Gals"

Written By: Jaclyn Lochner; Edited By: Me

It’s Saturday night and you’re in a crowed bar with your girlfriends. You just spent the last three hours primping, and you’ve finally arrived. You’re looking good in your tight skinny jeans, four-inch heels, and low-cut top. Your nails and toes are freshly done and your hair would make any model jealous. It’s time to do some damage. As you walk in, a scrawny guy about your height, shorter because of the heels, quietly introduces himself and politely offers to buy your first drink. At the same time, a hand smacks your backside and a drink of some sort is thrust in your face. You spin around to find a tall, muscular, hunk of man meat slouched against the bar. He doesn’t say a word, just gives you a slight nod. You have no idea what’s in the cup, and he doesn’t even ask your name. Be honest, who are you more likely to talk to?

If you’re like most women, you’re going to pretend you’d say something like, “Oh please you jerk!” and walk over to the nicer guy. A polite conversation would ensue, you'd discover that you had oh-so-much in common, and you'd live happily ever after….BULL!

Studies have shown that while the overwhelming majority of women say that they're looking for “nice guy” attributes, such as kindness, sensitivity, and emotional expressiveness, these same women choose to date “macho men” who are insensitive, distant, jerks (Urbaniak & Kilmann, 2006). The chance that women will make this choice is even higher if the “jerk” is more physically attractive. This leaves all the nice guys in the corner of the bar, marked off as “just friends,” and undoubtedly confused.

Do women really want attractive men who don’t treat them with respect? Is this rule applied to all dating situations or just casual sex partners? Studies have shown that men and women both rank kindness/consideration as one of the most desired attributes in a romantic partner. However, women in the study were more willing to compromise on niceness in short term relationships, including casual sex partners.

On the other side, they were more willing to compromise on attractiveness when considereing long-term mates (Urbaniak & Kilmann, 2006). So apparently, we care less about how we are treated by men we plan on having only a short-term relationship with, but we want them to be hot. And, we don’t mind if our romantic partners in the long-term are a little less attractive, but we want them to score higher in areas like interpersonal skill and responsiveness (Urbaniak & Kilmann, 2006).

My question is, how are we to find Mr. Right and Nice, if we keep chasing after Mr. Hot and Rude? While I agree that women today have a right to get out there and find what it is they are looking for, even if that means that they try the wrong thing a few times, it seems that we women have developed a trend. We fall for the types of guys we know we don’t want because they are attractive to us in the short run. We then rationalize our behavior by saying we’re just being “young and experimental.” We’re not going to seriously date them for goodness sakes.

Meanwhile, we submit ourselves to treatment by men that is hurtful, and sometimes end up becoming attached to the opposite type we are looking for in a man. These macho men have their behaviors positively reinforced, urging them to keep on acting the way they have been, and the nice guys begin to wonder if they should focus on being less nice. "Some have suggested that men hide their own niceness in order to get the girl. After all, who would want to be perceived as "too nice?" (Urbaniak & Kilmann, 2006).

Okay girls, we need to make a decision. Popular culture as well as books and magazines for years have stated that girls want nice guys who aren’t afraid to share their emotions. If this is the case, why does research show the opposite- that the nice guy always finishes last? In movies like Roxanne and Hitch, the audience sympathizes with the less attractive, but more emotionally open, intellectually articulate underdog. We rejoice when he gets the girl in the end, but is this a misrepresentation of actual life? When was the last time you chose the "nice guy"?Is this the kind of modern women our mothers and grandmothers hoped we would become? While modern times do allow more flexibility in how we go about finding our life mates, have we begun to abuse this privelege? If we purposely choose casual sex partners based mostly on looks, can we be mad at men for doing the same thing?

The movie Shallow Hal shows what happens when a man begins to see women for their inner beauty and their intellectual and emotional qualities. Women and men alike see this movie and laugh at the absurd shallowness of the male character, and rejoice when he chooses the less beautiful choice, who is ultimately the better woman for him. Shouldn’t there be a Shallow Gals movie? Don’t girls do the same thing? Casual dating is no longer a man’s world, but I’m not so sure this is a situation that we should be rejoicing about.

I challenge my readers to open their eyes the next time they are out for a night on the town. Really look around you. Try being aware of every move you make when interacting with the opposite sex. I know it’s hard, but do your best not to focus looks. Maybe you’ll catch yourself flirting with a jerk. Try to ignore his physical charms and take a look at the glimpses he is giving you into his character and personality. A slap on the rear may seem flirtatious in the moment, but is this the kind of rude behavior we have been brought up to value?

Maybe you’ll notice a really nice guy vying for your attention. He may be alone in a corner. He might not even be bad to look at, just not up in your face like the rest. The studies have shown there’s a much higher chance that he’s the one for you. Give him a shot. You might be surprised at the happiness you can find in a “nice guy” for a change.


  • Urbaniak, G. C., & Kilmann, P. (2006). Niceness and dating success. A further test of the nice guy stereotype. Sex Roles, 55, 209-224.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...