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 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.

How Our Brain Can Love for Years

People have a very basic need for love, which affects both their bodies and minds. We need to love someone and be loved by someone. People from different cultures and situations may experience and show love in different ways. However, their basic human need for love is still the same everywhere (Karandashev, 2019).

Love is a feeling and an expression of emotion that arises from the activation of specific neurological and physiological processes in the human body and brain. Throughout biological evolution, our mammalian ancestors have developed these biological mechanisms for the capacity and necessity of love (Karandashev, 2022).

In other articles, I talked about how our brain evolves its ability to love and how the human brain works when we fall in love.

Brain in Love

In the last two decades, researchers have conducted numerous studies on the neurophysiological processes that underpin our feelings of love. Brain imaging techniques have proven to be a valuable tool for studying human cerebral functions related to love and romance.

Neuroimaging studies have revealed what occurs in their brains and bodies in the early stages of romantic love when we are falling in love. As a couple progresses from the initial euphoria of affection to a state of deeper commitment, the activation regions of the brain undergo expansion.

How the Brain Works After Partners Marry

Researchers discovered that when newly married couples viewed images of their long-term partner, certain regions of the brain’s basal ganglia were activated.

As Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist from Einstein College of Medicine in New York, commented,

“This is an area of the brain heavily involved in promoting attachment, giving humans and other mammals the ability to stick it out even when things aren’t going quite so well.”

People may show the patterns of brain activation corresponding to romantic love for many years after marriage. For example, long-term married partners who have been together for 20 years or more exhibited neural activity in regions of the brain that are rich in dopamine and associated with reward and motivation. This finding aligns with previous studies on the early stages of romantic love.

In the study of neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love, participants exhibited greater neural activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) when they perceived the pictures of their long-term spouse compared to the images of a close friend or a highly familiar acquaintance. The study also revealed common neural activity in several regions that are frequently activated during maternal attachment, such as the frontal, limbic, and basal ganglia.

As Stephanie Cacioppo, a professor from the University of Chicago, and her colleagues found, long-term love also increases activation in more cognitive areas of the brain. Among those are the angular gyrus, which is associated with complex language functions, and the mirror neuron system, which helps us anticipate the actions of a loved one.

According to Cacioppo, this is the rationale behind the evidence that partners seamlessly navigate a tiny kitchen while cooking together or can finish each other’s sentences.

“People in love have this symbiotic, synergistic connection thanks to the mirror neuron system, and that’s why we often say some couples are better together than the sum of their parts. Love makes us sharper and more creative thinkers,”

Stephanie Cacioppo commented

What Love Languages Are and Whether We Should Know Them

Over 30 years ago, Baptist pastor Gary Chapman introduced a theory of love languages, suggesting five typical ways people express and perceive love. His book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” has become very popular since that time in many countries around the world. Chapman’s theory suggests that love means different things to different people. The author identified 5 different meanings and corresponding ways of expressing love. These languages of love are

  • words of affirmation (giving compliments),
  • gifts (presents big and small),
  • acts of service (helping your partner with chores or in other ways),
  • quality time (doing things together) or
  • physical touch (such as hugs, kisses or sex).

Gary Chapman claims that understanding your partner’s love language is the key to a good relationship. Many people who read his book have found it to be helpful in their relationship with a partner. This competency can have a tremendous positive impact on romantic and marital relationships.

Is the Theory of Love Languages Science or Pop Culture?

A neuroscientist and journalist, Richard Sima, discusses this question in a recent article in the Washington Post, January 15, 2024. Let’s consider some evidence.

Chapman strongly believes that almost everyone has a primary love language. And this language “tends to stay with us throughout a lifetime,” he said. According to his opinion, the only people he has encountered who say all five are equally important are those who either were always loved or never loved.

Chapman admits, “I’m not a researcher.” He said that some researchers criticizing his theory of 5 love languages interpret his work too strictly.

“I was never dogmatic to say that there’s only five love languages. I’m still open, but I’m a little more confident that these(five)are pretty much fundamental to human nature.”

Chapman said.

Some researchers, however, question the scientific validity of the concept of 5 love languages. Emily Impett, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and her co-authors Haeyoung Gideon Park and Amy Muise  recently published an article in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science presenting an extensive review of the scientific literature on the topic (Impett et al., 2024). They concluded that core assumptions about love languages stand on shaky ground, unsupported by empirical evidence.

Their analysis of scientific publications has shown that there is no strong empirical support for the book’s three central assumptions that

  • (a) each person has a preferred love language,
  • (b) there are five love languages,
  • (c) couples are more satisfied when partners speak one another’s preferred language. 

Here are the main points of critiques:

1. Do People Have a Primary Love Language?

The existence of the person’s “primary” love language is a cornerstone of love language advice. So, a key assumption of Chapman’s book is that you need to know the primary love language your partner speaks. Researchers found that people tend to connect with several love languages, not one.

“In real life, we know that people often don’t need to make these kinds of trade-offs between do you want a partner who is going to touch you versus express love in some other way,”

Impett said.

“If that’s the core assumption, then everything that follows kind of falls apart in a lot of different ways,”

said Sara Algoe.

2. People Have More Than 5 Love Languages

Researchers show that people experience and express love in more than the five ways, or five key love languages, as defined by Chapman.

Other expressions of love are possible, such as the support of a partner’s autonomy and personal growth.

“We know that these things are really key for relationship satisfaction and might be more meaningful to couples with more egalitarian values,”

Impett said. 

“Just being nice to your mother-in-law, being on time for the opera, creating interests together, learning things together, doing novel things together. It’s a little different than just spending time together.”

said Helen Fisher

3. Having the Same Love Language May Not Lead to Relationship Satisfaction

Chapman’s theory of love languages implies that learning the love language of a partner and speaking the same love language as your partner’s would lead to a successful relationship.

However, studies show that partners who have the same primary love languages do not necessarily have higher relationship satisfaction compared to those who have different love languages.

According to Emily Impett, research suggests that perceiving expressions of love in any form leads to high relationship satisfaction.

Family therapist Dr. Gottman, co-founder with his wife Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, is renowned for scientific relationship research. He expressed his doubts that learning your partner’s love language is a key to relationship happiness.

“My general conclusion is that these dimensions are not very distinct conceptually, nor are they very important in terms of accounting for variation in marital happiness and sexual satisfaction,”

said Dr. Gottman.

Gottman believes that the idea of love languages focuses on the important question of partners’ needs and their satisfaction in a relationship:

“What can I do to make you feel more loved now, and help me understand where you are right now?”

Responding to all criticism, Chapman said that

“He understands that love languages aren’t “the answer to everything in marriage, for sure. But I think it could be a helpful tool for any individual or any couple that wants to enhance their relationship and especially meet each other’s need to feel loved.”

Humor Helps Maintain Love Relationships

Men and women tend to love humorous people and perceive them as more attractive. They feel attracted to those with a good sense of humor and consider humor a desirable trait in romantic partners during the early stages of relationships.

How important is humor in a relationship over time? It is possible that we not only perceive humorous people as attractive but also tend to perceive someone we like as humorous (Li et al., 2009). For example, when we are happy in a relationship, we find our partner funny, even though she or he may not be objectively that funny in the first place.

How a Recent Study Conducted

A recent study conducted by Kenneth Tan, an assistant professor of psychology at Singapore Management University, and his colleagues Bryan Choy, and Norman Li. showed that humor also plays a role in maintaining and strengthening relationships. Partners use jokes and funny stories to signal continued interest in each other and improve their relationship.

Kenneth Tan and his colleagues conducted a study with a sample of 108 couples who were involved in romantic relationships with an average duration of 18.27 months. The researchers asked partners to complete daily assessments for seven consecutive evenings, reporting their perceptions of humor within their relationships and their levels of relationship commitment, perceived partner commitment, and relationship satisfaction.

This way, researchers investigated how humor and relationship quality fluctuate within established romantic relationships on a day-to-day basis. They found that humor functions as a means to signal and maintain the interest of partners in a romantic relationship.

The Study Found Complex Relations Between Humor and Relationship Quality

Their findings demonstrated that on days when partners reported higher levels of commitment, perceived partner commitment, or relationship satisfaction, they also more frequently used humor in communication with their partners. Furthermore, positive relationship quality between partners on one day increases the use of humor and perception the next day. Thus, relationship quality in current interactions positively influences the use of humor in subsequent interactions. This way, they use humor to express their continued interest in an ongoing relationship.

On days where partners were more satisfied and committed to the relationship, they found their romantic partner more humorous, both on the same day and the next. On days when they were less satisfied and committed to their relationship, they found their partner less humorous, both on the same day and the next.

The study did not reveal gender differences in its findings. Both women and men tend to use humor to maintain interest and strengthen their relationships.

In conclusion, one might typically think that humor is more important in the early phase of relationships to establish attraction than in the later stage of the relationship. However, the study found that humor did not show stronger effects on relationships that were shorter in length.

Humor, as well as smiling and laughter, improve our love relationship at any stage of a relationship.

How Assertion and Hesitation Help Sustain Love in Bicultural Marriages in Japan

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

Intercultural partners experience many challenges in building and sustaining love in bicultural marriages. In the previous article, we reviewed the key problems that Japanese and American partners encounter in their bicultural marriages. We explored those cases of third-culture marriage in Japan by observing their interactions and interviewing them.

We clarify misinterpretations through the use of kotowaza, or proverbs and sayings that illuminate the values behind cultural interactions. Understanding the deeper values leads to modified interpretations of each other’s behavior that become more isomorphic and mutually acceptable to partners committed to constructing together a successful Third-Culture Marriage.

In our recent chapter 51 in the International Handbook of Love (Clarke & Takashiro, 2021), we elaborated on the eight primary qualities of third-culture marriage interactions. They are important when partners commit to constructing together a successful intercultural marriage.

Here is one more advice.

Context of the Interaction Assertion and Hesitation in Bicultural Marriages

Partners in bicultural marriages have varying degrees of action-oriented versus being-oriented inclinations (the oft-noted ‘A’ or ‘B’ type personalities). When these are not in sync they cause tension. For example, in planning everyday schedules, leisure trip activities, even with the pace in which house chores or shopping get done, and many other occasions in which joint preparations are desired.

Time Is a Key Value

Time is a commodity in both cultures however it is worshipped differently.   Preciseness of departure times or eating times or sleeping times cause communication issues when there is a significant difference between marriage partners’ commitments to preciseness or being laissez-faire toward time (letting things take their own course.) But proper timing is also important and that can vary by context and objective.  

The kotowaza, Seite wa koto o shisonzuru or ‘Hasty ones make blunders’ reminds us of the issue of proper timing, such as when to end or leave a conversation or party. This also suggests the importance of enryo or hesitation as a pause before sasshi can occur (Miike, 2003) as in giving consideration or guessing a meaning.

Necessary Elements of Place

Besides the perspective of ‘time’, there are also considerations of ‘Place’ that bicultural couples must appreciate and resolve.   There is an appropriateness of time, place, and occasion, “TPO” to speak honestly in private with honne or tactfully in public with tatemae. 

Tatemae & honne (public & private speech) create style ambiguities that result in challenging attributions that question each other’s integrity, based honesty, shōjiki, or on harmony, “Wa, as the primary value in society (Prince Shotoku Taishi, 604; Clarke, 1992; Nawano, Annikis, and Mizuno, 2006; Oosterling, 2005; Pilgrim, 1986).

Here Is an Example of One Scenario

A long-term U. S. man, a professor, complained often of his Japanese partner never having an opinion of her own, even about where to take a weekend trip or what to eat.  The American wanted her honest feeling regardless of potentially having her opinion overruled.  Having “no opinion” created comfort in the Japanese woman while not in the U. S. man. It rather limited the scope and depth of the bicultural relationship.  The man did not value awaseru, to adjust, adapt, or match, as the woman did because without ‘the truth’, her shōjiki, how could he know that he was pleasing her? 

She on the other hand was practicing enryo, hesitation, in order to let him choose.  Whatever his decision, she was sure that she was happier to awasu, to adjust to his preferences and would easily gaman, endure, the consequences.  She would be ‘the wise hawk that hides its talons’ – No aru taka wa tsume o kakusu.

Here Are the Tools for Cultural Exploration

Kotowaza (sayings and proverbs – some are the same as sayings and proverbs in English) can uncover deeper values and assumptions, which are often unknown to non-Japanese (Galef & Hashimoto, 1987).  Kotowaza, like those from Confucius or Musashi, reveal models for strategic thinking and behaviors and can provide a basis for conversations about different styles of communication. 

In this case the Japanese wife chose to enryo, hesitation, and awasu, to adapt to his expressed wishes.  The husband chose to act in a way that could have conveyed rikutsuppoi, argumentative, or display what she may have perceived as ki ga tsuyoi, strong mindedness, and jikoshucho, self- assertiveness, not characteristics admired in Japan.  

Learning Through Experimentation

Differences across these two cultures due to assumptions about integrity, honesty, persuasion, and adjustment often result in dissatisfaction within the marriage. However, just deeper understanding is inadequate without exploring the necessary changes in attitude, accepting the conflicting values, and experimenting with new behaviors.

One Pathway to Conflict Resolution

There are two social paths by which to display integrity.   One is by being honest; the other is by being harmonious.   In Japan, Prince Shotoku Taishi wrote in 604 A. D. “Above all, there is harmony” in what is known as Japan’s first constitution. 

Honesty is not as core a value in Japan as in the U.S. due to the predominance of tatemae rather than honne in the language, which enables the construction of greater harmony. 

One kotowaza shows the necessity of what Americans call lying; Uso mo hoben, similarly, ‘a white lie is a necessary evil’ teaches us that lying is sometimes expedient in order to save face and build harmony, as in diplomacy or office politics.

How Affectionate Touch Influences Our Romantic Relationships

Men and women express their love for a partner in a relationship in a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways. Affectionate touch of various kinds is among the important nonverbal channels for lovers to express love in the intimate relationships. The previous article explained how affectionate touch in a relationship expresses our love for the loved one. Now we are talking about how interpersonal touch influences our romantic relationships.

What Affectionate Touch Tells Us About Love

Partners in romantic relationships often use touch to express their affection and intimacy. Touching various parts of the body, such as the abdomen and thighs, can evoke pleasurable feelings in both those who touch them and those who are touched.

A recent cross-cultural study found that touching behaviors like embraces, caresses, kisses, and hugs are universally present in various cultures around the world. Cultural differences, however, exist in how and when men and women affectionately touch each other. Even when lovers imagine a partner’s touch, they experience pleasurable and erogenous feelings.

Strangers can’t touch as much of your body as your romantic partner. Most people don’t mind when their partner touches their stomach and thighs, but they don’t like it when other people do. There are also more ways to show affection for a partner than in other social situations. A slow stroke is given to a romantic partner.

What Is Affection Exchange Theory?

Researchers employ the Affection Exchange Theory (AET) to understand the important effects and implications of affectionate touch in a relationship. The theory says that affectionate communication promotes the formation and maintenance of strong human pair bonds.

Expressions of affection are especially common in romantic couples. Such expressions affect the quality of a romantic relationship. Partners who are highly committed in a relationship often express various kinds of affection, including physical affection. Physical affection also positively affects relationships and partner satisfaction. However, partners with attachment insecurity less often use affectionate touch.

Most studies refer to affectionate communication as an array of behaviors and verbal displays of affection. For example, hugging was the only behavior explicitly related to touch among several affection communication domains which Horan and Booth-Butterfield’s study components examined.

How Touch Affects Our Relationships and Well-Being

In the study that specifically examined touch in romantic relationships, researchers found that the desire for touch is positively correlated with relationship quality. However, when partners experience attachment avoidance, they feel less desire for touch.

These promising results and the obvious value of touch in close interpersonal relationships encourage us to better understand the role of affectionate touch in romantic relationships.

Also, there appears to be a paucity of research on the psychological factors that influence the use of affectionate touch between partners. It is logical to assume, for instance, that loving partners would touch each other in their relationships. This would enhance communication and bring the benefits commonly associated with affectionate touch. In accordance with a study indicating that one’s own and one’s partner’s approach motives for touch predict greater daily relationship well-being, touch may also promote love between partners.

In an older study, Dainton, Stafford, and Canary found that physical affection (including touch behaviors) performed by a romantic partner and satisfaction with physical affection displays were positively associated with self-assessed love levels.

Thus, we see that our affectionate touch substantially influences our romantic relationships. How does our partner feel when we touch him or her? The previous article explained how affectionately touching the loved one lets him or her know about our love for them.

Surprisingly, however, little we know about the direct relationship between interpersonal touch and love, one of the most essential components of human romantic relationships, outside of this study.

In their recent study, Agnieszka Sorokowska and her colleagues investigated how affectionate touch influences romantic relationships across various cultures.

How Affectionate Touch Expresses Love to a Romantic Partner

Men and women use many verbal and nonverbal ways to express their love for a partner in a relationship. Affectionate touch of various kinds is among the major nonverbal channels to express romantic love that lovers use in their intimate relationships.

Agnieszka Sorokowska and her colleagues explain the role of affectionate touch in romantic relationships.

What Is Affectionate Touch?

In romantic relationships, touch is the most common means of expressing intimacy. Loving partners touch each other significantly more frequently than other individuals. Those in romantic relationships show significantly more intimate touch with each other than those who are single. Even imagining a partner’s touch can evoke pleasurable and erogenous feelings.

Romantic partners are typically permitted to touch many more parts of the body than strangers or acquaintances. For instance, most people feel comfortable when their partner touches them in the abdomen and thighs, but not when other people do so. Moreover, affectionate touch in partnerships is more diverse than in other social interactions. When directed towards a romantic partner, a stroke, for example, is performed with a particularly low velocity.

In line with this, a recent cross-cultural study revealed that, despite significant intercultural differences, affectionate touch behaviors such as an embrace, caress, kiss, and hug are universally present in partnerships across the globe.

Why Touch Deprivation Is Bad

The tendency to use affectionate touch in romantic relationships seems natural. The negative effects of touch deprivation stand in stark contrast to the many advantages of affectionate touch in close relationships.

Touch deprivation is associated with anxiety, depression, and somatization. On the other hand, the higher prevalence of partner touch leads to better psychological well-being. Furthermore, interpersonal touch contributes to a lowered stress response by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol production. Touch can also reduce pain.

However, touching might not always be beneficial. Some people dislike touching. They may avoid touching others. Or have negative reactions to touching others. Such aspects of the relationship with a partner as low familiarity or a condition can make one feel a negative reaction to touch, such as disgust.

Why Affectionate Touch is Good in Close Relationships

Researchers use Affection Exchange Theory (AET) to interpret the significant implications and consequences of affectionate touch. According to this theory, affectionate communication is essential for “fostering the formation and maintenance of significant human pair bonds.” (Floyd, 2006, p. 165).

Expressions of affection are common among couples and related to the quality of romantic relationships. Men and women with higher levels of commitment in relationships usually physically display their affection toward their partners. The level of physical affection is also positively associated with relationship satisfaction and partner satisfaction while being negatively associated with attachment insecurity.

Affectionate communication typically includes multiple types of behaviors and verbal displays of affection. Men and women feel the desire for touch when their relationship quality is good.

Touch is strongly related to attachment patterns. When partners experience attachment avoidance, they are less likely to experience a desire for touch.

People of the “Dark Triad” Tend to Be Manipulative in Relationships

Many studies have shown what personality traits are attractive for a romantic relationship. However, love studies have paid much less attention to exploring personality traits that negatively affect relationships. According to recent studies, people with Dark Triad traits are more likely to act manipulatively when breaking up with a partner.

What Are the “Dark Triad” Traits?

The concept of the “Dark Triad” includes a set of three groups of personality traits. These are narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. These traits characterize individuals with a lack of sympathy, a deficiency of emotional experience, and a behavioral tendency toward exploitation in a relationship.

How Individuals with the “Dark Triad” Behave in a Relationship

Studies have shown that these personality traits significantly affect how men and women form and maintain friendships and romantic relationships.

A recent study published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences” investigated how people with “Dark Triad” personality traits behave when breaking up with their partners. The study showed that individuals with the Dark Triad traits behave manipulatively during the breakup of their relationships. According to this research, people with Dark Triad traits are more likely to use manipulation to end a relationship. They tend to be less kind and compassionate when a relationship ends.

The “Dark Triad” and the Breakdown of Relationships

Relationship dissolution is a common and upsetting occurrence in life. This is why the new study by Gayle Brewer and colleagues set out to understand how the “Dark Triad” personality traits of men and women affect relationships.

According to this recent study, individuals who have the “Dark Triad” traits tend to experience lower relationship satisfaction and are more prone to breakdown. They feel less loyalty to a partner and therefore may be more willing to end romantic relationships.

The Two Studies of the “Dark Triad” Showed

In these two studies, researchers examined how partners’ “Dark Triad” personality traits affect the way they end friendships and romantic relationships, exploring break-up strategies.

According to the findings of the first study, individuals with the personality traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy tend to use manipulation, escalation, and distant communication when they approach the stage of ending a romantic relationship. In contrast to this, individuals with personality traits of narcissism tend to engage in open confrontation. As for the ending of friendship, individuals with high psychopathic traits tend to use distant communication during friendship dissolution.

The findings of the study suggest that people with the “Dark Triad” personality traits tend to use manipulative tactics during the breakup of a romantic relationship. They rarely experience and behave with empathy or kindness during their breakup.

Individuals with both Machiavellianism and psychopathy personality traits often employ aggressive confrontation, cost-escalation, and manipulation.

How People Feel Gratitude

Being grateful makes our relationships with other people stronger. When people feel grateful, the way they feel grateful and the emotions that accompany this experience strengthen their sense of belonging to the group and their connectedness with others.

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a set of dispositions and emotions characterized by being thankful and appreciative for what other people and life give to us. There are many things for which we may be grateful.

Gratitude is daily and widely involved in our interpersonal communication and relationships. Clearly, gratitude plays a crucial role in interpersonal relationships. An essential component of practicing gratitude is recognizing and appreciating the people around us and the things they do for us.

Gratitude is an essential component of romantic and companionate relationships. In some respects, gratitude is the feeling of being thankful for what another person has done or continues to do for us.

Being thankful makes us feel better, both physically and mentally. It makes our lives and relationships better in many ways. Some people tend to be grateful more frequently than others. How does their experience of being grateful reflect on their emotional experience and feelings? How do grateful individuals feel gratitude?

A Study of the Lived Experience of Gratitude

Patty Hlava and John Elfers, researchers at Sofia University in California, conducted a qualitative study exploring how people feel gratitude in their lives. They also examined the benefits of experiencing and expressing gratitude. What is the meaning of gratitude for their lives, relationships, and emotions?

How Emotionally Do Grateful People Feel Gratitude?

Being grateful is an emotional experience characterized by varying intensity. People experience gratitude with subjective feelings that can range from low intensity to overwhelming.

Many participants of the study reported their feelings of tearfulness and overwhelming emotion—the sense of taking the breath away, of bursting with feeling, or of fullness. Men and women described the range of emotional responses to gratitude, from mild feelings of appreciation to the sensations of upwelling tearfulness. The tears, however, were not from sadness. Some admitted that the power of the emotion made them silent, uncomfortable, and embarrassed.

Participants commonly feel gratitude, describing it with positive emotions such as joy, release, love, peace, security, and happiness.

Some examples of quotes from participants are:

I start tearing because I’m so—it’s an overwhelming emotion. It’s an overflowing with joy kind of feeling. (Joe)

My eyes fill with tears, but I do not feel sadness. I feel at a loss for words and am filled with gratitude and love. (Zoe)

I just burst into tears, and I was crying, I mean, in addition to just the positive feelings of just gratitude and excitement. (Louise)

(Hlava & Elfers, 2014, p. 444).

Somatic Experiences in the Heart and Chest

These are the sensations of warmth and the feeling that the chest and heart are expanding. It is often described as fullness, swelling, or lightness. Participants often described the feelings in their hearts as softening or melting into something larger. The feeling of the breath was light and expansive.

The feelings in the heart and chest are sometimes identified as the “core” and central feelings of people’s gratitude. Several quotes from the participants include:

I noticed a fullness in my chest like my heart is bursting, and it’s full. Not an uncomfortable feeling, like a warm feeling, almost like love but not as localized or something. It’s less concentrated. It’s just a bigger feeling. (Allison)

A slow dawning, more of a warm feeling inside of you rather than something that suddenly catches you by surprise. (Louise)

[The heart sensation] is not flat. It has dimension. That is why I feel it is the core. (Sophie)

(Hlava & Elfers, 2014, p. 445).

The sensation of warmth is another feature of how people somatically feel gratitude. Participants frequently indicated the feelings in their upper and middle backs. They also experienced the rush and flush of warmth in the abdomen, the skin, the face, the throat, and the feeling of warmth and flushing in the entire body. These warm feelings in the chest are commonly associated with sensations of elevation.

The Somatic and Psychological Feeling of Release

The way people feel gratitude is commonly associated with somatic and psychological feelings of release. They frequently described these feelings as letting go, a feeling of lightness, a weight lifted, liberation, and freedom.

I had, for lack of a better term, a long internal sigh. I was so relieved. (Link)

I just feel so relieved, just like something left my body. (Aneska)

It was like I had a huge weight lifted off of me. (Cait)

I remember being released. I was completely and utterly free. (Herbie)

(Hlava & Elfers, 2014, p. 446).

Participants describe these feelings as a deeply somatic experience in terms of shoulders relaxing, a reduction in stress levels, a lighter, bouncier step, and a weight lifted off.