How to Better Communicate with Your Dating Partner in the Digital Era: Should You Text or Talk?

In modern digital life, romantic partners have different means and possibilities to communicate. In their relationships, they can talk to each other in person or just communicate by exchanging text messages.

It can be hard to decide whether to text or meet in person, especially when it comes to romantic relationships where communication is important. What is a better way to initiate and maintain a relationship with your partner? The preference for texting over face-to-face conversation may not be solely about convenience but rather about the quality of a relationship.

A New Study on Dating Communication

Anthony Chen from the University of California, Irvine, and his colleague Catalina Toma recently conducted a study where they looked at how the trade-offs between these different ways of communicating may be closely linked to the fears people experience in romantic situations.

Researchers conducted a survey of 257 young men and women to find out which way of communicating—texting or in-person meetings—they preferred in an exclusive dating relationship. The authors presented a variety of scenarios, ranging from ordinary ones like arranging a date or exchanging daily information to more difficult ones such as conflicts, profound discussions about the future of the relationship, or even the difficult circumstances of breaking up.

The Handy Convenience of Text Editing

Researchers revealed a distinct pattern in their findings: individuals with higher levels of social anxiety consistently favored texting over in-person conversations of all kinds. More socially anxious people preferred texting over face-to-face interaction, even for uninteresting conversations. But when it came to handling difficult conversations and breakups, their preference for texting was particularly noticeable when compared to those who were less socially anxious.

Texting gives socially anxious people a better sense of control over their communication than face-to-face interactions. Texting enables them to edit their messages until they present the version of themselves that they feel most comfortable with. This accounts for at least some of their preference for texting.

This “editable” feature of digital communication becomes increasingly valuable and provides a lifeline for individuals with social anxiety as the likelihood of emotional discomfort in the conversation increases. It acts as a barrier against the vulnerability and immediacy of in-person interactions.

For people with social anxiety, it’s not just about avoiding awkward silences or not knowing what to say in a difficult situation. It’s also about coming up with a response that makes them feel safe and shows how they want to be seen.

People Are Still Longing for In-Person Communication

What is interesting is that the authors also discovered that even with the increasing availability of digital communication, such as texting, many women and men still prefer in-person interaction about some themes and in some special circumstances. Among those topics are conflict, the possibility of emotional harm, or talking about a possible breakup.

This disposition implies that, at their core, people understand the special importance of face-to-face communication in forging deeper bonds and understanding—something that text messages are unable to adequately express.

Why We Communicate the Way We Do in This Digital Age

This study sheds light on how people in the digital age initiate and maintain romantic relationships. Women and men use digital tools in a variety of ways, depending on their motivations, comfort zones, and interpersonal circumstances.

Many people typically prefer face-to-face communication, indicating a shared desire for more meaningful, in-depth connections.

Nonetheless, the deliberate use of texting by men and women with social anxiety reveals a complex landscape in which technology can serve as both a bridge and a barrier in romantic relationships.

This contrast between the convenience of digital technology and the need for human contact emphasizes that personal connection and understanding are still necessary in this digital age. Instead, modern digital possibilities modify the routes that individuals take to satisfy those needs. Understanding these subtleties enables people to thoughtfully incorporate technology into their lives. These new opportunities improve rather than degrade the quality of their relationships as they engage in romantic relationships in the digital age.

In Ghanaian Culture, Love Is Helping and Caring for Others

Many studies have shown that despite cross-cultural similarities, cultural conceptions of love vary across societies (see, for review, Karandashev, 2019; 2022). Culture influences how individuals experience and express love, as well as social norms prevalent among communities (Fiske & Taylor, 2013; Kaufmann, 2011).

For instance, individualistic cultures tend to value experience and expression of passionate love more, while collective cultures tend to value the experience and expression of companionate love more (Fiske & Taylor, 2013). Passionate love focuses on how love makes one feel, while companionate love focuses on feelings for and caring for others.

Love in the Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa

In the collectivist societies of Sub-Saharan Africa, cultural norms associate love with experiences and expressions of affect towards others, social relationships, and material provisioning (Coe, 2011; Cornwall, 2002).

Love entails a commitment to sharing and reciprocity in social relationships, as well as the supply and allocation of material resources (Keefe, 2016). These qualities of love expression were referred to by researchers as “real love” (van Eerdewijk, 2006) and “materiality of care” (Coe, 2011).

Interdependent Life and Love in Ghanaian Communities

Ghana, a country in West Africa, presents an example of this conceptualization of love in its culture. A Ghanaian understanding of love entails meeting the needs of close others.

What are the origins of these cultural beliefs?

The majority of Ghanaians express their sense of identity through duty-based interpersonal interactions. Individuals are born into close-knit families that place a strong emphasis on socially required interpersonal responsibilities. Ghanaians care about preserving their interdependence in relationships and regard themselves as interdependent (Markus & Kitayama, 1991).

The allocation of resources is the fundamental basis of our daily existence. The extended family structure has historically provided support and care for both young people and the elderly. People must reciprocate obligations, duties, and responsibilities toward family members for this system of care to function effectively. Ghanaians show this facet of love through diverse social actions and interactions. Material expressions of love are valued in Ghana, sometimes, above emotional expressions of love (Coe, 2011).

The Impact of Christian Beliefs on Ghanaians’ Understanding of Love

Religious beliefs influence the notion of love among people of faith. They express their best human qualities based on the universal ethos of honesty, care, and brotherhood (Prince, Denis, & van Dijk, 2009).

Christianity is a major part of Ghana’s culture and has an impact on many people’s daily lives. How do Christian beliefs influence Ghanaian cultural understandings of love?

Christians make a distinction between eros love and agape love. A desire for something or someone drives eros love, whereas respect for and concern for others drives agape love. The eros type of love is self-oriented, focusing on benefits to the self, while the agape type of love is other-oriented, emphasizing benefits to the other person. Ghanaian Christian churches influence Ghanaian society’s conceptions of love by promoting love in relationships and family life.

What Did a Recent Study on Love in Ghana Show?

Researchers looked into how Christian Ghanaians view love in relation to family in a recent study on love in the West African nation of Ghana. Let’s look at some of the main themes that 61 participants—men and women aged 20 to 70—reported when anthropologists interviewed them (Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

In a previous blog post on this site, I explained how Ghanaians express and fulfill their love by attending to the needs of those close to them.

Helping Others Who Are in Need

Among those others, informants mentioned friends, strangers, and elderly people. Many participants (70%) regarded love as providing help to individuals in need, including the elderly, friends, and even complete strangers. For example, participants stated:

… if you go out and you see an elderly person who is not even from your own family, if there is anything to assist them with, you help them. If you have the means to support them, you do as much as you can.

(51-year-old female)

Supposing a friend is having a problem, losing a loved one or in need of some money, you take care of it or give her something.

(37-year-old male)

If you think somebody needs your help and you have the means, either you know the person or don’t know the person, you should show the person love… either in kind, in physical terms.

(34-year-old male)

As one can see, the Ghanaian Christian participants expressed their beliefs about agape love in their responses. They considered acts of love, such as fulfilling familial and neighborly responsibilities, to be the most important expressions of love. This aligns with Christian principles that prioritize compassion and the well-being of both one’s own family and others.

Love Is Care

Many Christian Ghanaian respondents (48%) in the study viewed love primarily as caring actions towards others, such as “showing concern.” Participants shared the following examples and provided comments:

…in school I’ve made a lot of friends… sometimes when you’re not well, they call…. When you’re on holidays, this long vac [vacation], they’ll be calling and checking on… So that’s love.

(21-year-old female)

…when you are sick they [people] visit you in the house, when you are promoted they show appreciation they congratulate you; it’s a way of showing love.

(40-year-old female)

Other Expressions of Love Among Ghanaians

Several participants (10%) mentioned kissing (children), hugging (children and husband), and touching (husband). Furthermore, a small percentage (7%) claimed that love entails openness, transparency, and not keeping secrets. Only a few participants mentioned these, so the authors did not assign them to a specific theme.

Love as Agape in Ghanaian Christian Culture

It is worth noting that these Ghanaian Christian participants made few references to eros (a type of passionate love) and instead emphasized agape (kind and caring actions toward others). They described love from a Judeo-Christian perspective, as illustrated by biblical examples. These definitions of love go beyond close relationships and intersect with the definition of what a good Christian or person should be.

Ghanaian Love Meets the Needs of Close Others

Modern Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic cultures commonly perceive material relationships and love relationships as existing in distinct and even opposing realms. However, in numerous other societies, expressing love typically involves providing material resources to family members and other close individuals (Karandashev, 2019; 2022).

Such a cultural understanding of love is consistent with patterns of love that researchers have documented in many parts of Africa. In all these cultural contexts, love implies material and social arrangements (e.g., Coe, 2011; Cornwall, 2002; Osei-Tutu et al., 2018; van Eerdewijk, 2006).

A Recent Study on Love in Ghana

In their recent study of love in Ghana, a country in West Africa, researchers investigated how Ghanaians think about love in the context of family. Let us consider some of the major themes that 61 participants, men and women from 20 to 70 years old, whom researchers interviewed expressed about their understanding and experience of love (Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

How do contemporary Ghanaian Christians conceptualize love?

The major themes of the interview data showed that people express love by meeting the material needs of their children, spouses, parents, and close relatives. They also love helping others in need and giving affectionate care. Community-based and maintenance-based love seems to be how Ghanaians show their love to the elderly, friends, and strangers.

In this article, I present only one aspect of the Ghanaian cultural understanding of love that the authors revealed in their analysis of interview data. This is an understanding of love as fulfilling the needs of close others.

Love as Meeting the Needs of Children, Spouses, Parents, and Close Relatives

Approximately 96% of the participants interpreted love as fulfilling responsibilities towards their children, spouses, parents, and other immediate family members (such as siblings). These social obligations are fulfilled through

  • the provision of financial and in-kind assistance, such as food, clothing, and shelter,
  • emergency aid,
  • personal presence, such as visiting the ill or attending funerals,
  • offering verbal support, such as advice or encouragement.

Here are some examples:

For our parents, they’re number one [priority]. As I’m staying here my mother is … 90 something [years old]. I used to go there; the least is twice a week or even more than that….When I’m going there, you know money matters. You send some little thing.

 (70-year-old female)

I also show love by supporting family when they need me. Uhm, I also show love when I make sure that my other siblings are also well taken care of.

(29-year-old male)

In their analysis, four sub-themes of the love experience stood out to anthropologists: The sub-themes they identified were

  • (A) need identification,
  • (B) need anticipation,
  • (C) need provision, and
  • (D) need remittances.

Love as Need Identification

The subtheme of need identification involves getting close to people by visiting or calling them to find out what they need:

Sometimes you see because you have [sic] married they [parents] don’t want to put pressure on you. So they’ll prefer, even if they are dying, they’ll keep it to themselves. But you find out daddy why this, or mummy why are you doing this…. You do a general check up and make sure they are in good health. Then they’ll know that oh my son is caring for me.

(34-year-old male)

Love as Need Anticipation

Need anticipation in love entails determining people’s needs and meeting them without their express request or prompting:

There was this instance and I bought eh sandals …ladies sandals to my wife not knowing she was really in need of it, expecting me to do that. So I called and she said how do you get to know that I need this at this point in time. She was, I mean, glad.

(37-year-old male)

Love as Need Provision

The subtheme of love as need provision implies giving financial or in-kind support to meet the needs of family members. Support is provided in the form of clothing, food, and shelter, depending on the recipient’s developmental needs. Furthermore, meeting children’s needs entailed providing educational necessities such as school supplies.

For spouses, providing “chop money” implies meeting their needs. “Chop money” is the custom when a husband gives money to his wife or when parents give money to their children. Spouses express their love for each other as a need provision in the form of companionship and meeting other needs.

Love as Remittances

Participants also said that they provide remittances as an expression of love by giving monetary support to family and parents as a regular income source:

As a husband I’m supposed, as much as I’m supposed to fend [for] my family, make sure there’s food, make sure there’s shelter, make sure there’s clothes.

(30-year-old male)

For parents, sometimes let’s say we’re working. When you earn salary and you didn’t give anything to your parents that means you doesn’t [sic] love them.

(64-year-old female)

While the majority of participants emphasized the significance of fulfilling needs, a small number indicated that this demonstration of affection is contingent upon certain conditions. For instance, some propose that remittances should be affordable unless there is an urgent situation:

If you’re working, I think at the end of every month you should be able to give them [parents] some money as well as you buy some ingredients and other things they may need at home.

(23-year-old male)

Communal Expressions of Love in Ghanaian Cultures

One can see that the expressions of love among Ghanaians are largely communal in nature. The distribution of basic material resources is the primary way in which people express love. Both cultural factors and the economic conditions of everyday life influence the experience and expression of love for men and women in Ghana.

This conceptualization of love aligns with research among Ghanaian transnational families. In Ghanaian culture, the allocation of material resources serves as an indication of love and affection.

Such an understanding of love means that migrant parents who leave their children behind in Ghana can continue to be good parents by sending remittances. Furthermore, they may be considered better parents than caregivers who stay and are poorer (Coe, 2011; Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

The Indian Myth of Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love

Many modern Western symbols of love date back to the early Greeks and Romans. Eros was the Greek god of love, while Cupid was the Roman god of love and desire.

The image of a chubby Cupid aiming love arrows at unwary people’s hearts appears to be a typical Western symbol of love. Americans and Western Europeans can widely see him on greeting cards and chocolate boxes on Valentine’s Day.

What about Eastern cultures, such as Hinduism? Does Cupid trick them too? Or do they have their own “Cupid”? People from all over the world, especially Indo-European cultures, have sacred stories that are a lot like Hindu stories about gods.

Who Is Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love?

In Indic traditions, Kamadeva represents the Hindu equivalent of Cupid and Eros. Kamadeva is known as the Indian or Vedic Cupid. He is the Hindu god of love, desire, and infatuation.

Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, USA, explored the old Indian scriptures about Kamadeva.

Kamadeva is the god of desire and love. The word Kama comes from Sanskrit, meaning “sensual desire.“ He is accompanied by his wife, Rati, a goddess of love and sexual passion.

Different from Cupid, however, Kamadeva is depicted not as a plumpy cherub but rather as a handsome young man who rides on a majestic green parrot named Suka. He is riding a parrot’s back with a sugarcane bow, a honeybee bowstring, and flower arrow points. Kamadeva, the Hindu Cupid, also shoots his love darts into people’s hearts.

This is how the Rigveda, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures dating back at least 3,000 years, describes Kamadeva.

Each of these elements of his description represents the inherent sweetness of love. Additionally, they elicit the spirit of the spring season, when new life arises in the world. Suka, the parrot of Kamadeva, symbolizes both the spring season and the notion of love, as parrots frequently live in pairs.

The Tensions of Hindu Love

The stories of love in Hindu culture illustrate the tension between the most deeply held Hindu values. Love is a highly valued belief, especially in the context of families.

The highest ideal of life, however, is liberation from the cycle of rebirth. To reach this goal, spiritual people must give up worldly attachments, including love relationships. They should seek meditative solitude instead.

Shiva, a highly esteemed Hindu deity, embodies this tension by combining the qualities of a devoted yogi with a loving husband and father.

What Happens When Kamadeva Intervenes Life with His Love Arrows?

One time, during a period of intense meditation, Kamadeva was going to pierce his heart with an arrow. Then Shiva, angered by the interruption of his meditation, blasted the unfortunate god of love with a powerful beam of energy emanating from his renowned third eye.

Actually, Kamadeva’s intention was good. It was not meant to whimsically pierce Lord Shiva’s heart. According to the Indian story, a dangerous demon, known as Taraka, endangered the world. None of the gods could defeat this terrifying demon.

Only Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, and his wife, the Mother Goddess Parvati, could defeat this demon, according to a prophecy. However, Kartikeya had not yet been conceived. Shiva was the patron deity and embodiment of yoga, so he unlikely could do this anytime soon given his dedication to meditation. So, the Hindu gods sent Kamadeva to do just that: to make Shiva fall in love with Parvati and wake him up from his meditation so he could have the child who would save the world.

Shiva demonstrates mercy despite his proneness to anger. Heartbroken over the death of her beloved, Rati begged Shiva to bring Kamadeva back to life, which he did. Following this, Shiva and Parvati had a son named Kartikeya, who later killed the demon.

What Was the Message of This Story?

It says that erotic love is important in all religions, even ones that value asceticism and meditation as ways to reach the ultimate goal of freeing people from the cycle of rebirth and its pain. Not only is Kamadeva a fun thing to look at, but it also does good things in the world.

Why Are So Many Americans of Millennials and Generation Z Unhappy?

There has been a recent decline in the level of happiness and well-being among the American population, and young men and women from Millennials and Generation Z are leading the downward spiral. American Millennials and Generation Z are currently the most unhappy in the United States, according to a new survey.

What the 2024 World Happiness Report Revealed

The World Happiness Report of 2024 revealed that self-reported data from those under the age of 30 knocked the United States out of the top 20 happiest countries for the first time since the annual report’s inception in 2012.

It is worth noting that young people in Canada and other English-speaking countries also reported a decrease in happiness.

Different from this pessimistic tendency, young women and men in many other countries have an increase in their feelings of well-being. The report revealed that young people in central and eastern Europe, as well as certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, experienced a rise in their level of happiness.

We still don’t fully understand why young people in these regions experience a different trend from those in the U.S., Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Their findings, however, indicate that this declining trend in happiness is not global.

What Makes the Current Young Americans Unhappy?

Key factors that significantly contributed to the rapid decline included young people’s dissatisfaction with their living conditions, social support systems, diminishing trust in the government, and a perception of reduced personal freedom in making life decisions.

As journalist Christopher Cann from “USA TODAY” commented, young Americans said that they were unhappy and disappointed because of the economy, the cost of housing, student loan debt, political polarization, social media, climate change, and the war in Gaza.

Women and men of Millennials and Generation Z Gen mentioned that several things, from high rent and debt to the comparison culture on social media, had left them feeling tired and unhappy.

Researchers agree that the trends in the decline in the feeling of happiness among young people in the USA, Canada, and some other English-speaking countries are worrisome.

A combination of factors, rather than a single cause, can be responsible for the decrease in life satisfaction among young men and women. Individuals’ physical well-being, academic performance, involvement in community activities, and financial income correlate with their happiness and satisfaction levels.

Among other things, an epidemic of loneliness makes young Americans unhappy. Experts have also expressed concern about an epidemic of loneliness among teenagers and young adults in America. This psychological experience has surged alongside an increase in virtual schooling and remote work, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

According to researchers, one of the most reliable indicators of adult happiness is the level of happiness experienced during childhood and adolescence. This correlation raises concerns that American teens and young adults’ discontent may only worsen as they get older.

Typically, the level of happiness is highest among young individuals and decreases to its lowest point during middle age (40–60) before gradually increasing again as individuals approach retirement and old age—a phenomenon commonly referred to as the U-shape.

Over the course of several years, experts have observed a gradual decrease in variation in the United States. However, this year, the extent of this decrease has become extreme and very recognizable.

As Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University, stated:

“Honestly, I look at these data with terror, not just because of what they reveal about our country right now, but what they will reveal about our country in the future unless we change this pattern”

What Can Be Done to Make People Happier?

Both external (socioeconomic) and internal (personal) factors influence how men and women feel and experience life—happy or unhappy.

It is evident that there are several economic and social changes that society can implement to support the healthier and happier development of young women and men.

Nevertheless, young people have their own ability to improve their own well-being. Extensive research has consistently demonstrated that people can enhance their satisfaction in life and happiness by engaging in certain behaviors. These include increasing face-to-face social interactions, practicing self-compassion, and allocating dedicated time away from work, school, and other responsibilities.

The Power of an Individual Choice

Here’s an example from Christopher Cann about what young Americans believe causes them to be unhappy.

Ashlie Marchant, a second-year student at the University of Central Florida, recognized social media as the primary catalyst for discontentment in her own life and the lives of her friends. She deleted TikTok from her mobile device. She attempts to resist the compulsion to scroll on the screen.

“I’m trying to lean off of social media. It’s so easy to get caught up in it, and all it does is make me unproductive and upset.”

Marchant, age of 20 years, said.

Marchant preferred to read a paperback novel while sitting in a public park. She expressed her adoption of tangible forms of media, such as film photography and vinyl records.

How Passionate Love Emerges from Arousal

Here is a psychophysiological secret about why we fall in love with someone at first sight. It happens in special circumstances of autonomic arousal and the exciting context of a situation. In the appropriate conditions, the extrinsic arousal effect transforms any extrinsic arousal into love and sexual attraction. When and how?

How Misattribution of Arousal Makes Us Fall in Love

In his book The Art of Love, Ovid, a first-century Roman poet, suggested that a man seeking to seduce a woman take her to a gladiatorial tournament. It would most likely arouse her sexual passion and increase her desire. Only intense and vivid emotions, whether pleasant or unpleasant, can trigger passionate love. Why does this phenomenon occur?

Modern research has provided evidence regarding the consequences of misattribution of arousal, which occurs when individuals erroneously attribute the source of their aroused state. When people experience arousal in their autonomic nervous system due to fear, they misattribute those physiological responses to passionate love and sexual arousal.

How Men Fell in Love on the Capilano Suspension Bridge

The well-known studies, which Dutton and Aron did, are often called the Capilano Suspension Bridge Study (Dutton and Aron, 1974). For the experiments, they used a suspension bridge, and for the control conditions, they used a strong bridge. People were scared when they saw the suspension bridge because it was so high off the ground. People would be scared of the suspension bridge, which was hanging over the river and wasn’t stable enough to walk on. On the other hand, the same experiment would not show fear when walking across a strong, stable bridge. Researchers used that condition as a comparison control.

A pretty female interviewer went up to 85 male pedestrians, some of whom were on a scary suspension bridge and some of whom were not. Before the interview, the person asking the questions asked them to fill out questionnaires with pictures from the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and tell stories based on those pictures.

The stories told by the people standing on the scary bridge contained more sexual content. Also, these male participants were more likely to try to get in touch with the female interviewer after the test.

How Strong Arousal Enhances Our Attraction to Attractive Women and Decreases Our Attraction to Unattractive Women

Two additional studies provided further evidence that misattributing arousal can facilitate romantic attraction. During those experiments, specific activities—listening to audiotapes of gruesome murders or comedy routines—or running in place—triggered physiological arousal in the men (White, Fishbein, & Rutstein, 1981).

Following that, they viewed a pre-recorded interview featuring a woman who possessed either physical attractiveness or unattractiveness. They then evaluated the woman’s physical attractiveness and sexiness. Additionally, they rated their level of interest in dating her and kissing her.

The findings indicated that, under each of these experimental conditions,

  • First, men had the impression that attractive women were more sexily attractive when they were first physically aroused by the experiments than men who were not aroused.
  • Second, men had the impression that unattractive women were less sexually attractive when they were first sexually aroused by the experiments, compared to men who were not aroused.

Therefore, prior states of arousal amplified both positive reactions to attractive women and negative reactions to unattractive women, contingent upon cognitively appropriate evaluation (White, Fishbein, & Rutstein, 1981).

How to Make Someone Fall in Love

I believe that the psychophysiological mechanism of arousal transfer offers a solid explanation for the transition of pleasurable emotions from sexual attraction to romantic attraction (Karandashev, 2017, p. 270).

There have been many variations of these kinds of experiments in the following years, illustrating how the arousal transfer effect makes men and women fall in love. They all replicated the scientific validity of the effects that arousal has on attraction.

So, what personal lesson can we take from this research? Next time, when you want someone to fall in love with you, bring him or her on some adventurous journey or exciting circumstances.

How to Love When You Experience Insecure Attachment?

Developing and maintaining a relationship with a significant other is difficult since many of us are dealing with high personal stress, anxiety, and psychological insecurity. We all want to feel satisfied with our relationship with our partner. But what if your partner feels insecure in the relationship with you despite your attempts to understand him or her and be supportive? How can you deal with insecure attachment, improve communication, and resolve conflicts with your partner?

The attachment theory has become increasingly popular in the study of love. Love is primarily an emotional bond that originates from our early years. Researchers classified individual types of attachment into four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

Here, you can have the opportunity to discover your individual attachment style.

Our attachment styles can pose significant challenges for our close relationships, especially because, according to some research, human love attachment can be imprinted in the early years of life.

How Can We Overcome the Feeling of Insecurity in Our Relationship?

It is possible that emotionally focused therapy and human attachment theory can provide a better understanding of how to repair and heal our complicated relationship. We experience insecure attachment when we feel blocked from doing something for our relationship. According to the theory of attachment, it is essential for our intimate relationships to experience the feelings of being seen, valued, respected, and emotionally validated.

Avoidant attachment and anxious attachment are the two types of attachment in an intimate relationship that cause challenges in our lives. People with avoidant attachment tend to pull away or shut down from their partner to keep the relationship from getting tense. Anxious attachment is the opposite. People with this type of attachment tend to move toward their partner to close the emotional gap. That deep-seated worry is still there, but it shows up in a different way.

Julie Menanno, a marriage and family therapist, comments:

 “Both strategies ultimately fail leaving us with a relationship with varying degrees of fighting and emotional disconnection.”

Julie Menanno says

Practice of Secure Love

A marriage and family therapist, Julie Menanno, in her book Secure Love: Create a Relationship That Lasts a Lifetime helps us understand our different attachment styles as well as how they affect our romantic relationships. She talks about the fears underneath insecure attachments. She explains why women tend to be anxiously attached and how couples with different attachment styles can understand each other better. To help couples who are having trouble move toward secure attachment, she gives them a practical guide and scripts for hard conversations to overcome challenges in their relationships.

What does “insecure attachment” implicate for a relationship?

This is what Julie Menanno says about insecure attachment and its implications for a relationship

“If the [anxiously attached] partner is overwhelmed with unmet needs and anxieties—experiencing intense urges to reach out and get their needs met to relieve some of this relationship fear and anxiety—the other person won’t be comfortable, because it’s not healthy communication. If they can’t navigate their partner’s behavior in a healthy way—either showing up to help them with those feelings, responding authentically, or setting boundaries, which we would consider secure attachment—the next best thing is pulling away. Because they’re uncomfortable with too much coming at them.

In contrast, if the avoidant partner handles relationship anxiety and fears of enmeshment, or fears of weakness, by avoiding—they’re sending the message to their anxious partner: I’m not here for you. I’m not here to meet your needs. I’m not here to keep you feeling safe.

If the anxious partner can’t manage that in a healthy way—from leaving the relationship because their emotional needs aren’t met, or communicating in a healthy way to create safety in the relationship, to draw the person closer—they handle it the way they know. More anxiety, more pulling for closeness, more going toward, more desperation, more protest, more blame. That’s how they’re going to show up with problems of anything from how to load the dishwasher to how to find emotional closeness with each other.

Often, avoidant partners are invested in the relationship early on, pursuing the anxious partner. Avoidant partners thrive on the feeling of being seen as a success, being seen in a good light, being appreciated.

Early on, they’re not hiding as much. So the anxious partner feels seen, heard, they’re getting enough of those needs met that some of their relationship fears aren’t showing up. Things are great—but when they start to have conflict, it sends messages to the anxious partner: “Your needs don’t matter. I don’t really want to resolve anything. You’re too much.” Now the anxious partner gets more anxious. They behave in an anxious way that sends the avoidant partner messages: “No matter what you say, you’re failing, you’re getting it wrong.” And then the avoidant partner starts to hide more.

The more the anxious partner behaves anxiously, the more they’re reinforcing the avoidant partner’s avoidance. The more the avoidant partner behaves avoidantly, the more they’re reinforcing the anxious partner’s anxiousness.”

as Julie Menanno explains.

What The Stories Teach Us About Cultural Experiences in Emotions

How do we love him or her? How do we hate them, and why? Over years of research, scientists have discovered an abundance of knowledge and findings that show how certain situations, contexts, and behaviors elicit specific emotions, such as joy, love, anger, and sadness. Scientists have found that cultures substantially shape our emotions and the way we experience and express them (see, for review, Karandashev, 2021; Mesquita, 2022).

The Cultural Study of Emotions in the Hadza People and Americans in North Carolina

In 2016, Katie Hoemann and Batja Mesquita, the researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium, started to investigate how the people known as the Hadza, a group of hunter-gatherers living in a remote area in the north central part of Tanzania, experience and express emotions.

Researchers collected the stories the Hadza people shared with them about their feelings. The authors compared how those stories were different from the stories told by Americans from North Carolina.

In a recent article published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, the authors compared the stories they collected from the Hadza people with the stories collected from American university students and community members in North Carolina. They examined the narratives people use to construct their emotional experiences.

Researchers discovered that these two cultural groups have different methods of describing emotions. Furthermore, the differences the authors have observed are surprising for the right comprehension of emotions. The manner in which individuals communicate and perceive their emotions can have a significant impact on their social interactions and relationships. In the absence of the right understanding, we can overlook nuance and diversity in our understanding of emotions. We can miss the intended meaning and what others are trying to say.

In these studies, researchers interviewed the Hadza and American adults, asking them to recall a recent time they felt pleasant or unpleasant, and then answered questions like “Where were you?” “What happened?” and “How did you feel about it?”

What the Hadza people and Americans in North Carolina say about emotions:

The Hadza people emphasize physical experiences and bodily sensations while Americans emphasize mental experiences and subjective feelings

Researchers quickly noticed that the Hadza stories frequently emphasized physical experiences, such as bodily sensations and movements. As an illustration, a woman in her middle age expressed her experience of not receiving payment for a job by referring to her heart, head, and hands:

“My heart is beating very fast until my head is pounding, because I’m using so much power while working hard, because I expected I would get something for it. But I got nothing.… When someone refuses to pay you, it’s like they cut your hands: because even if you go do other jobs, you worry the next guy also won’t pay you.”

Katie Hoemann and Batja Mesquita

Different from these narratives, these stories of Americans about emotion placed more emphasis on mental experience—subjective feelings, conclusions, and explanations—than on physical sensations, as did the Hadza. For instance, a middle-aged American woman highlighted her rage, her sense of “unworthiness,” and the wrongdoer’s malice in another narrative concerning conflict at work:

“I was very angry, but unfortunately I never had any respect for this person anyway. She abused her power, she manipulated people, she … [thought] that all of the decisions that she made were the right ones. But the effect that she had on so many people was, well, so discouraging, and … she really liked to make you feel totally unworthy.”

The Hadza people emphasize shared experiences while Americans on their individual experiences

Researchers also observed that Hadza narratives about emotion focused on shared experiences, i.e., other people’s needs and viewpoints. The young man below said he was happy after a successful hunt because he “knew [his] kids would be satisfied”:

“I waited for the impala to come close to where I was hiding, ready to hunt them. I was hiding by a big branch of the baobab so they could not see me. So, when they are starting to eat, and I started descending slowly and I started to shoot them … I was laughing so much because I had never killed an impala before. My whole life I had been trying to kill impala. This was a very lucky day for me.… I loved it so much because I knew my kids would be satisfied.”

This description is contrasted with a statement made by a young American man in North Carolina, whose story of winning a different kind of major game was far more self-centered. He describes his appearance in the local paper and the accolades he received as a “ego-trip.”

“I played for our varsity basketball team, and we were playing one of our big rivals, and I ended up scoring, I don’t know, like 16 points in the last quarter, which basically won the game for us. I received a lot of praise for that, and then the next day in the newspaper it had a big article write-up about me, and the picture, and so … I felt praised, kind of an ego-trip.… I knew I would get a lot of recognition that night and have a lot of fun.”

What Are the Differences Between Hadza and Americans’ Narratives About Emotions?

The authors summed up their findings by examining patterns in the emotional narratives from Hadza and North Carolina and comparing data from both sets of interviews. Participants’ comments about time, objectives, and the reasons behind their actions varied. Aside from that, the authors concluded that:

  • American participants place the emphasis on their individual experiences, whereas Hadza people place the emphasis on their shared experiences,
  • American participants place the emphasis on mental experiences, whereas the Hadza people place the emphasis on their physical sensations.

These distinctions show how culture shapes stories about emotions, just like it shapes any other narrative practice. There is no single way to discuss feelings. In fact, feelings may not even play an important role in how people make sense of their experiences.

You can see more studies presented in the recent books Cultural Models of Emotions by Karandashev (2021) and Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions by Mesquita (2022).

How to Make an Online Dating Profile Appealing: New Research

The fact that the first dating websites appeared only in the 1990s might seem surprising. However, dating websites have developed significantly over the last three decades. This development had a significant impact on how partners met, fell in love, and developed their relationships. These days, over one-third of marriages start online. But this data differs depending on the culture.

Modern online-mediated cultures of relationships have changed intimate practices in online dating apps.

Research findings have shown the ambiguities and opportunities men and women experience using dating apps.

One of the challenging questions is how to create an attractive online dating profile.

Most people who are looking for love online will fill out their profiles with all the interesting things about themselves that make them stand out. They have a dog, three kids, or an iguana. On the weekends, they paraglide and do hot yoga, or something like this.

Sometimes, though, they forget to say what they want to know about a potential partner. They, however, are not always aware that others are not less but may be more interested “to be known” than “to know them as their partner.”

New Research on Dating Profiles Shows

A recent series of experiments conducted by Juliana Schroeder, Professor of Management Philosophy & Values at Berkeley Haas, and Ayelet Fishbach, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, showed that the most important thing online dating users should keep in mind is that people are more satisfied when they feel like “they are known,”  rather than when they feel like “they know the other person.

Juliana Schroeder and Ayelet Fishbach recruited a group of research assistants to analyze dating profiles from Match.com and Coffee Meets Bagel. According to the information provided in the profiles, more than 50% of the writers were rated as desiring recognition from a potential partner, whereas only around 20% expressed a wish to know their potential partner.

Subsequently, the researchers requested a group of many online participants to compose their own profiles, with the option to emphasize being known or getting to know the other person. Then, they surveyed an additional 250 individuals to evaluate these profiles based on “how much they found them appealing and how much they would potentially want to contact them” using a rating system ranging from 1 to 7. Thus, their ratings evaluated the level of attractiveness and the likelihood of wanting to initiate contact with the individuals in the profiles.

What Do People Look for in Dating Profiles?

Consistent with their previous findings, Schroeder and Fishbach discovered that the raters exhibited a preference for the profile authors who placed emphasis on their desire to understand the other person.

These findings could provide valuable guidance for individuals seeking to enhance their attractiveness on a dating platform.

“What they want to be doing is saying, ‘I really care about you, and I’m going to get to know you and be there for you and listen to you and be a great partner,”

Schroeder says.

That makes sense, Schroeder says, adding credence to the notion that the phenomenon of a parent-child relationship is primarily about support.

 “It’s the one relationship where it’s very clear the parent needs to be supporting the child.”

A New Perspective for This Research

Schroeder and Fishbach’s next research task is to explore how individuals can redirect their attention towards utilizing their understanding of others to genuinely make them feel recognized. Then, it’s likely that experiencing a sense of being recognized may enhance both partners’ satisfaction with their relationships.

This positive perspective may also work in a workplace context, improving relationships with coworkers.

“To develop relationships with work colleagues, you might think not just about personal knowledge but also what are people’s habits and how they like to work,”

Schoeder says.

“While this was beyond the scope of our study, it’s possible that stronger workplace relationships could ultimately make a difference in terms of people’s satisfaction with their jobs.” 

What Is More Important for Relationship Satisfaction: To Know Others or To Be Known?

Partners’ mutual understanding in a relationship is very important for relationship satisfaction in romantic and companionate relationships, as well as with friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and casual acquaintances.

What Is More Important: “To Know Your Partner” or “To Be Known”?

A series of experimental studies conducted by Juliana Schroeder and Ayelet Fishbach showed that the most important thing is that people are more satisfied when they feel like “they are known, rather than when they feel like “they know the other person.

“People want to be known, so they’re looking for partners who will know them and support them. But because other people also want to be known, they end up writing these not-super-appealing profiles when trying to attract partners.”

Juliana Schroeder said.

In their recent paper “Feeling Known Predicts Relationship Satisfaction,” Juliana Schroeder, Professor of Management Philosophy & Values at Berkeley Haas, and Ayelet Fishbach, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, contend that this phenomenon affects all types of our interpersonal relationships, including those with friends, romantic partners, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and casual acquaintances.

“Of course, people say they want to know their relationship partner and support their partner. But that’s not actually the thing that makes them happiest in their relationships. People feel happier in relationships where they feel like they are being supported—and for that, they have to be known.”

Juliana Schroeder said.

Here’s What Really Leads to Relationship Satisfaction

In their experimental studies, researchers first asked participants to rate how well they thought they knew a family member, partner, or friend compared to how well they thought they were known. Then, researchers asked participants to rate their relationship satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 7. It’s interesting to note that people frequently believed they knew the other person better than they did.

Researchers called this effect the illusion of asymmetric insight.

“People think they are unique and special and have a lot of complexity to them, so other people just don’t know their true self. Whereas once they know one thing about the other person, they’re like ‘I know you. Done. “

Schroeder says.

People value relationships more when they feel that someone truly knows them, maybe because it happens so rarely. The results of that study showed that

“In fact, the degree to which they knew the other person mattered less in how they felt about the relationship compared to the degree to which they felt they were known, regardless of how they felt about the overall quality of the relationship.”

Schroeder says.

In another study, the researchers gave participants one of two scenarios in which they encountered an acquaintance at a party who either forgot their name or whose name they forgot. Participants reacted differently to the two scenarios. Schroeder commented on this:

“If you forget their name, it’s not great for the relationship, but if they forget your name, it’s much worse — the relationship is over,”

Schroeder says.