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Concept: Romance


Love feelings can be more intense than desired (e.g., after a break-up) or less intense than desired (e.g., in long-term relationships). If only we could control our love feelings! We present the concept of explicit love regulation, which we define as the use of behavioral and cognitive strategies to change the intensity of current feelings of romantic love. We present the first two studies on preconceptions about, strategies for, and the feasibility of love regulation. Questionnaire responses showed that people perceive love feelings as somewhat uncontrollable. Still, in four open questions people reported to use strategies such as cognitive reappraisal, distraction, avoidance, and undertaking (new) activities to cope with break-ups, to maintain long-term relationships, and to regulate love feelings. Instructed up-regulation of love using reappraisal increased subjective feelings of attachment, while love down-regulation decreased subjective feelings of infatuation and attachment. We used the late positive potential (LPP) amplitude as an objective index of regulation success. Instructed love up-regulation enhanced the LPP between 300-400 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship and in participants who had recently experienced a romantic break-up, while love down-regulation reduced the LPP between 700-3000 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship. These findings corroborate the self-reported feasibility of love regulation, although they are complicated by the finding that love up-regulation also reduced the LPP between 700-3000 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship. To conclude, although people have the preconception that love feelings are uncontrollable, we show for the first time that intentional regulation of love feelings using reappraisal, and perhaps other strategies, is feasible. Love regulation will benefit individuals and society because it could enhance positive effects and reduce negative effects of romantic love.

Concepts: Time, Psychology, Interpersonal relationship, Love, Romance, Human bonding, Interpersonal relationships, Relationship breakup


Clear empirical demonstrations of the theoretical principles underlying assortative mating remain elusive. This article examines a moderator of assortative mating-how well couple members knew each other before dating-suggested by recent findings related to market-based (i.e., competition) theories. Specifically, competition is pervasive to the extent that people achieve consensus about who possesses desirable qualities (e.g., attractiveness) and who does not. Because consensus is stronger earlier in the acquaintance process, assortative mating based on attractiveness should be stronger among couples who formed a relationship after a short period rather than a long period of acquaintance. A study of 167 couples included measures of how long partners had known each other before dating and whether they had been friends before dating, as well as coders' ratings of physical attractiveness. As predicted, couples revealed stronger evidence of assortative mating to the extent that they knew each other for a short time and were not friends before initiating a romantic relationship.

Concepts: Scientific method, Truth, Interpersonal relationship, Theory, Futures contract, Love, Romance, Assortative mating


Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine how social networking site (SNS) use, specifically Twitter use, influences negative interpersonal relationship outcomes. This study specifically examined the mediational effect of Twitter-related conflict on the relationship between active Twitter use and negative relationship outcomes, and how this mechanism may be contingent on the length of the romantic relationship. A total of 581 Twitter users aged 18 to 67 years (Mage=29, SDage=8.9) completed an online survey questionnaire. Moderation-mediation regression analyses using bootstrapping methods indicated that Twitter-related conflict mediated the relationship between active Twitter use and negative relationship outcomes. The length of the romantic relationship, however, did not moderate the indirect effect on the relationship between active Twitter use and negative relationship outcomes. The results from this study suggest that active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce. This indirect effect is not contingent on the length of the romantic relationship. The current study adds to the growing body of literature investigating SNS use and romantic relationship outcomes.

Concepts: Family, Marriage, Interpersonal relationship, Love, Social network service, Intimate relationship, Romance, Twitter


Adolescents' emotional reactivity in family, close friendships, and romantic relationships was examined in a community-based sample of 416 two-parent families. Six waves of annual data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Emotional reactivity to interparental conflict during early adolescence was associated prospectively with adolescents' reactivity to conflict in friendships and romantic relationships during middle adolescence. Close friendship reactivity partially explained the prospective association between reactivity to interparental conflict and romantic relationship reactivity. The association between perceived emotional reactivity and relationship conflict was stronger for girls than boys. Results have important developmental implications regarding adolescents' emotional reactivity across salient interpersonal contexts during adolescence. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Family, Psychology, Interpersonal relationship, All rights reserved, Love, Friendship, Intimate relationship, Romance


Abstract Background: Falling in love is a human universal behavior. Studies indicate that both adolescents and adults experiencing romantic love (RL) emotional states of joy and happiness. However, there is evidence that among adolescents RL also is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, but no data on these associations are available for adults. The aim of the present study was therefore to explore the associations between RL, symptoms of depression, anxiety, hypomania and sleep among a sample of Iranian adults. Method: One hundred adults (mean age: 26 years; 53% males) took part in the study. They completed a series of questionnaires related to romantic love, symptoms of depression, anxiety, hypomania, and sleep. Results: An increased state of RL was associated with the bright side of hypomania, stronger symptoms of depression and state anxiety, and better sleep quality. There was no relation to sleep duration. Conclusions: Unlike psychobiological studies assessing highly selected samples of adults happily in love, the present pattern of results shows that in adults, RL is not entirely a joyful and happy period of life. Rather, data suggest that for young adults, falling in love might be a critical life event also associated with uncertainty and unpleasant feelings.

Concepts: Time, Psychology, Bipolar disorder, Emotion, Love, Romance, Romance novel


Because remaining love feelings for an ex-partner are negatively associated with recovery from a romantic break-up, it may be helpful to decrease those love feelings. Love regulation is the use of behavioral or cognitive strategies to change the intensity of current feelings of romantic love. This study evaluated three regulation strategies: (1) negative reappraisal of the ex-partner, (2) reappraisal of love feelings, and (3) distraction. It was tested how these regulation strategies change love feelings for the ex-partner, valence of affect, and motivated attention for the ex-partner. Participants who were upset about a romantic break-up performed these regulation strategies before passively viewing a picture of their ex-partner, during which their electroencephalogram was recorded. Negative reappraisal decreased love feelings and made participants feel more unpleasant. Love reappraisal did not change how in love or pleasant/unpleasant participants felt. Distraction did not change love feelings but made participants feel more pleasant. This suggests that in the context of a romantic break-up, negative reappraisal is an effective love down-regulation strategy, whereas distraction is an effective positive emotion up-regulation strategy. Furthermore, all three strategies decreased motivated attention for the ex-partner, as indicated by a reduced amplitude of the late positive potential. This reduced motivated attention for the ex-partner could make it easier to deal with encounters of (reminders of) the ex-partner. Love regulation is a promising phenomenon with important everyday life and clinical implications. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Electrophysiology, Emotion, Love, Feeling, Romance, Romance novel


“Love hurts”-as the saying goes-and a certain amount of pain and difficulty in intimate relationships is unavoidable. Sometimes it may even be beneficial, since adversity can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and a range of other components of a life well-lived. But other times, love can be downright dangerous. It may bind a spouse to her domestic abuser, draw an unscrupulous adult toward sexual involvement with a child, put someone under the insidious spell of a cult leader, and even inspire jealousy-fueled homicide. How might these perilous devotions be diminished? The ancients thought that treatments such as phlebotomy, exercise, or bloodletting could “cure” an individual of love. But modern neuroscience and emerging developments in psychopharmacology open up a range of possible interventions that might actually work. These developments raise profound moral questions about the potential uses-and misuses-of such anti-love biotechnology. In this article, we describe a number of prospective love-diminishing interventions, and offer a preliminary ethical framework for dealing with them responsibly should they arise.

Concepts: Philosophy, Ethics, Interpersonal relationship, Morality, Business ethics, Love, Romance, Interpersonal relationships


Romantic love is a cross-culturally universal phenomenon that serves as a commitment device for motivating pair bonding in human beings. Women and men may experience different feelings when viewing the same warm, romantic scenes. To determine which brain systems may be involved in romance perception and examine possible sex differences, we scanned 16 women and 16 men who were intensely in love, using functional MRI. Participants were required to rate the romance level of 60 pictures showing romantic events that may frequently occur during romantic relationship formation. The results showed that greater brain activation was found for men in the insula, PCC (posterior cingulate cortex), and prefrontal gyrus compared with women, primarily under the High-romance condition. In addition, enhanced functional connectivity between the brain regions involved in the High-romance condition in contrast to the Low-romance condition was only found for men. These data suggest that men and women differ in the processing of romantic information and that it may be  more effortful for men to perceive and evaluate romance degree.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cerebrum, Interpersonal relationship, Love, Romance, Romance novel


This study examines, in a multilevel context, the influence of intensity of love at an individual level on couples' mean reports of psychological and physical aggression in a sample of 2,988 adult couples of both sexes from the Region of Madrid. The percentages of intimate partner aggression considering the highest report of aggression in the couple were around 60% of psychological aggression and 15% of physical aggression. Multilevel models confirm that individuals who were less intensely in love reported a higher level of psychological aggression. Concerning physical aggression, men who declared they were less intensely in love reported a higher level of physical aggression by their partners, but this pattern was not found in the women. Therefore, psychological aggression plays a more relevant role in the intensity of love than physical aggression.

Concepts: Report, Interpersonal relationship, Aggression, Individual, Love, Multilevel model, Romance, Salman Khan


Friends with benefits (FWB) relationships are formed by an integration of friendship and sexual intimacy, typically without the explicit commitments characteristic of an exclusive romantic relationship. The majority of these relationships do not transition into committed romantic relationships, raising questions about what happens to the relationship after the FWB ends. In a sample of 119 men and 189 women university students, with a median age of 19 years and the majority identified as Caucasian (63.6 %), we assessed relationship adjustment, feelings of deception, perception of the FWB relationship and friendship, social connectedness, psychological distress, and loneliness. Results demonstrated that the majority of FWB relationships continued as friendships after the sexual intimacy ceased and that about 50 % of the participants reported feeling as close or closer to their FWB partner. Those who did not remain friends were more likely to report that their FWB relationship was more sex- than friendship-based; they also reported higher levels of feeling deceived by their FWB partner and higher levels of loneliness and psychological distress, but lower levels of mutual social connectedness. Higher levels of feeling deceived were related to feeling less close to the post-FWB friend; also, more sex-based FWB relationships were likely to result in post-FWB friendships that were either more or less close (as opposed to unchanged). FWB relationships, especially those that include more attention to friendship based intimacy, do not appear to negatively impact the quality of the friendship after the “with benefits” ends.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Interpersonal relationship, Emotion, Love, Friendship, Casual relationship, Romance