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Love and Communication in Intimate Relationships

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1 Love and Communication in Intimate Relationships
Chapter Eight Love and Communication in Intimate Relationships

2 Love Exists in all cultures Exists in all ethnic groups
Exists in all orientations Dual nature: Feeling – Emotional Component Activity – Action Component

3 Communication Communication is the thread that connects sexuality and intimacy The quality of the relationship affects the quality of the sex. Partners who are satisfied with sexual communication tend to be satisfied with their relationship in general Most of the time we do not think about the quality of our communication until it fails.

4 Friendship and Love Friendship is a strong foundation for strong love relationships that include: mutual acceptance, trust, respect, confidentiality, understanding, and spontaneity. Difference between friends and lovers: deeper levels of fascination, exclusivity, and sexual desire. Love has a greater potential for distress, conflict, and mutual criticism.

5 Friendship and Love Marriage still houses two separate individuals. Boundaries should be clarified and options should be shared Success in marriage depends upon the ability of the partners to communicate concerns and on the maturity of the people involved in the marital relationship.

6 Love and Sexuality Sexuality and love are intimately related in our culture Our cultural language connects love and sex and love “legitimizes” sex outside of marriage. Our sexual standards have become personal rather than institutional. Many in sexual relationships use words associated with “love” to describe/explain sexual practice. The use of “lovers”, “make love”, or “intimate” are often used instead of technical or slang terms to describe the sexual practice in the sexual relationship.

7 Love and Sexuality What factors lead to sexual intercourse?
Belief that sex will “grow” the relationship Belief that sex will add “meaning” to the relationship Sexual satisfaction is tied to relationship satisfaction, but appears to be more significant in men Level of intimacy and relationship duration are correlated with the decision to engage in sexual activity Partners who are less committed to the relationship are less likely to be sexually involved Partners who “share the power” in a relationship are more likely to be involved in a sexual relationship than those in inequitable relationships.

8 Love and Sexuality Cultural environment and physical environment play a role in the level of sexual activity Opportunity for sex can be precluded in an environment that is not “private” (ex. Parents, friends, roommates, or children) Opportunity for sex may either be enhanced or suppressed by the values of the culture.

9 Love and Sexuality Versus
How woman shows sexual interest to man (how the man “sees” it) = assertive, forceful, and even aggressive sexual behavior Versus How man shows sexual interest to woman (how the woman “sees” it) = behavior that inspires trust and confidence Do we exhibit the behavior that we expect?

10 Sex Outside of Committed Relationships
Young adult sex outside of marriage is now the norm Values in America have shifted to legitimize pre-marital or non-marital sex. Change is due to: Effective contraception and abortion Redefined gender roles – legitimizing female sexuality Alterations in demographics – people waiting longer to get married

11 Men, Women, Sex, and Love Men separate “sex” and “love” more than women However, the emotional quality of the relationship makes sexual experience “special” Gay men may have more willing partners for casual sex than heterosexual men Women, generally, value sex in the context of a relationship Lesbians share sex less than heterosexual couples of gay men

12 Men, Women, Sex, and Love Women, generally, value sex in the context of a relationship Seek emotional relationships May derive their self-worth from the quality of the relationship Lesbians share sex less than heterosexual couples of gay men Tend to postpone sexual involvement until they have developed emotional intimacy with their partner

13 Love Without Sex Celibacy
May be a choice May be a circumstance (no partner) May be short or long term May be goal oriented (marriage) Asexuality – little or no sexual attraction to either sex Emphasis on friendship and other relationship qualities May “free” up energy for personal growth or other kinds of relationships.

14 Styles of Love: John Lee see pg 226, text
Eros: love of beauty Mania: obsessive love Ludus: playful love Storge( STOR-gay): companionate love Agape: altruistic love Pragma: practical love

15 Styles of Love: John Lee see pg 226, text
Lee hypothesizes that mutually satisfying relationships partners need to share the same style and definition of love Recent research on styles: College women showed more erotic and pragmatic styles, whereas the men exhibited higher rates of Ludus attitudes

16 The Triangular Theory of Love
Theory developed by Robert Sternberg Emphasizes the dynamic quality of love relationships in separate and combined forms

17 The Components of Love: Ten Signs of Intimacy
Wanting to promote your partner’s welfare Feeling happiness with your partner Holding your partner in high regard Being able to count on your partner in time of need Being able to understand each other

18 The Components of Love (cont.)
Sharing yourself and your possessions with your partner Receiving emotional support from your partner Giving emotional support to your partner Being able to communicate with your partner about intimate things Valuing partner’s presence in your life

19 Kinds of Love: Sternberg pg 228-229, text
Liking Intimacy only Infatuation Passion only Romantic Love Intimacy and passion Companionate Love Intimacy and commitment Fatuous Love Passion and commitment Consummate love Intimacy, passion, and commitment Empty love Commitment only Nonlove Absence of all three

20 The Geometry of Love The shape of the love triangle depends on the intensity of the love and the balance of the parts. Intense relationships have larger areas The balance determines the shape of the triangle The greater the match between the triangles of the two partners, the more likely each will experience satisfaction in the relationship.

21 Attachment Theory (Romantic love similar to infant-caregiver attachment)
Bond depends on attachment object’s responsiveness Infant happier in attachment object presence Shares discoveries with attachment object. Coos, talks baby talk Feeling of oneness with attachment object Romantic love Feelings are related to lover’s interest Happier when lover is present Shares experiences with lover Lovers coo, talk baby talk Feeling of oneness with lover

22 Components of Attachment
Attachment style endures across ones life Depends upon security and safety – There is a need to feel secure – partner need respond to a need Open acceptance and honesty

23 Types of Attachment Secure attachments Anxious/ambivalent attachment
Find it relatively easy to get close to other people Anxious/ambivalent attachment Believe that other people didn’t get as close as they themselves wanted Avoidant attachments Feel discomfort being close to other people ** In adulthood the attachment style developed in infancy combines with sexual desire and caring behaviors to give rise to romantic love

24 Unrequited Love Love is not returned Causes distress to all involved
Rejecters most distressed Perspectives differ between the people who offer love and those who do not reciprocate Rejecter see rejected as self-deceiving and unreasonable Rejected see rejecter as inconsistent and mysterious

25 Jealousy Jealousy does not prove the existence of love – proves only that the other person can be made jealous Jealousy and love are not necessarily companions Jealousy is painful – associated with anger, hurt and loss (or perceived) Jealousy can destroy or cement a relationship (paradoxical) Jealously is linked to violence – marital violence and rape are linked to jealousy

26 Jealousy Aversive response to a real or imagined involvement with a third person Painful experience Absence may indicate relationship problems Occurs where there are commitments in a relationship Men and women differ in reported attempts to make their partner jealous

27 Managing Jealousy Jealousy can be unreasonable or realistic
Dealing with irrational suspicions can be difficult Can work on underlying causes of our insecurity (Why are we jealous?) If jealousy is well-founded, relationship may need to be modified or ended Jealousy can be the catalyst for change

28 Extradyatic Involvement (EDI)
Sexual or romantic relationships outside of a “committed” relationship EDI may be: 1) sexual but not emotional, 2) sexual and emotional, and 3) emotional but not sexual. In Dating and Cohabitating relationships EDI more common, In exclusive marriage, EDI expected and can have legal implications. Nonexclusive Marriages may be open for intimacy but not sex, open with sex allowed, group/multiple relationships

29 Making Love Last: From Passion to Intimacy
Intimate love: Each person knows they can count on the other Commitment: Based on conscious choices rather than transitory feelings Caring: Involves making another person’s needs as important as your own Self-disclosure: Revealing ourselves—our hopes, our fears, our everyday thoughts to deepen understanding and intimacy Working together these elements help to transform love.

30 The Nature of Communication
Communication: a transactional process Involves conveying symbols, words, gestures, movements Goal of establishing human contact, exchanging information, and reinforcing or changing attitudes and behaviors 3

31 Contexts of Communication
Cultural context the language, values, beliefs, and customs in which communication takes place – this shapes our style of communication Social context the roles we play in society – status roles can define the style of communication in the relationship Psychological context how people communicate based on their personalities ( factors: self-esteem, self-efficacy)

32 Nonverbal Communication
The ability to correctly interpret nonverbal communication is important in relationships Most of our “feeling” communication is nonverbal 3 important factors: (Like You vs. Dislike You) Proximity: nearness in physical space Eye contact: a symbol of interest Touching: signals intimacy, closeness 5

33 Sexual Communication Our interpersonal sexual scripts provide us with “instructions” on how to behave sexually In beginning relationships (pg ) Halo effect Interest and opening lines First move and beyond In some cases: establishing sexual orientation Directing sexual activity 4

34 Sexual Communication (Cont.)
In established relationships initiating sexual activity For heterosexuals: men typically initiate more often In established relationships. Women a may feel comfortable in overtly initiating sex. In same-sex relationships: typically the more emotionally expressive partner initiates

35 Gender Differences in Partner Communication
Women send clearer messages to their partners than do men Men more than women tend to send negative messages or withdraw, and tend to talk less about feelings and personal issues Women tend to set the emotional tone of an argument – typically escalate or diminish argument Women tend to use more qualifiers in their style of speaking, men use fewer words

36 Developing Communication Skills
Talking about sex Keys to good communication (pg ) Self disclosure Trust Feedback 6

37 Conflict and Intimacy Conflict is natural in intimate relationships
Conflict is a process in which people perceive incompatible goals and interference from others in achieving their goals. A lack of arguing can signal trouble in a relationship Conflict isn’t dangerous; it’s the manner in which it is handled that can hurt or help relationship 7

38 Conflicts about Sex Fighting about sex
Can result from a disagreement about having sex Can also be used as a “scapegoat” for nonsexual problems Can be a cover-up for deeper feelings such as inadequacy It’s hard to tell during a fight if there are deeper causes

39 Conflict Resolution The way couples deal with conflict reflects and contributes to their happiness Strategies for conflict resolution Negotiating conflicts Agreement as a gift, increases chances of reciprocation Bargaining (win-win) Coexistence (get along)

40 End of Lecture

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