How to Judge Your Partner’s Behavior

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People tend to judge the meaning of an action from the outside, and often fail to see what’s inside of the person’s mind doing the act. Most romantic relationships fail because the jealous partner only sees the social meaning of the external act of the other but not the motive behind it.

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One girlfriend just broke up with her boyfriend when she saw him chatting with a beautiful girl from afar. She interpreted the animated conversation of the two as a form of romantic attraction. Without asking the boyfriend about the girl and what they were talking about, she immediately stopped texting and communicating with him. She eventually broke up with his boyfriend without clarifying with him of what actually happened during that animated encounter with another girl.

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Max Weber, a German sociologist, has a very good advice for people who want to judge the meaning of people’s interaction. He called this approach as “verstehen” or “interpretive understanding”. This concept implies that a person must judge behavior from the actor’s point of view. If one really wants to understand the true meaning of the human action, he or she must put himself/herself into the shoes of the other.

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“Verstehen” implies understanding the social meaning of the person’s external act or the stereotype and the motive behind the act. It requires empathy.  Without learning the motive of the act, the observer would pass rash judgment and misjudge the true significance of the act. The girl could have investigated or probed further on what was really the motive why his boyfriend had an animated conversation with the other girl.

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Many romantic partners and spouses separate because they pass rash judgment, they only know the meaning of their partners’ external acts but fail to understand the real intentions underneath them. Jealously and other forms of negative emotions can sometimes cloud their judgments and forget to probe what actually happened with their partners’ or spouses’  encounters with the significant other.

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Why Men Suffer More Badly than Women after Breakups

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Many assume that women would suffer more trauma than men after an ending of a serious relationship. This conclusion may be true in the economic realm, especially if the female partners or wives are dependent on their boyfriends and husbands for support. But in the emotional or psychological realm, the case may be different. Women tend to perform well in coping with the emotional pains after a breakup in a relationship compared to men!

A study by Perilloux and Buss (2008) indicated that knowing who among the men and women would suffer more pain in coping with a breakup would depend on who are the rejectors and rejectees.

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Both men and women who were rejected, compared with those who did the rejecting, experienced more depression, loss of self-esteem, and rumination. But between men and women who were both rejected after a serious relationship, men tend to suffer more emotional hardships than women.

If men were rejected (rejectees) by their girlfriends and housewives (rejectors) in serious relationships, they tend to cope very badly after breakups compared to women (rejectees). Some studies revealed that women typically report experiencing more benefits after the breakup and men report poorer adjustment (e.g.Avellar & Smock, 2005; Bevvino and Sharkin, 2003; Haugaard and Seri, 2003).

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In addition, since men tend to be more romantic and more involved in establishing and maintaining a romantic or marital relationship, they experience more frustrations compared to their female partners after a divorce or separation. To enhance their romantic union, men tend to invest more time and resources than women. This serious investment of male partners in a romantic or marital union can lead to large costs if the relationship is terminated. Breakups can be costly and emotionally devastating to men when their ladies decide to discontinue the relationships.

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Why Men Deal with Breakups More Badly than Women

1. Although they tend to have more business and social connections as well as personal friends than women in public life, men generally have less intimate friends to confide their emotional problems compared to women. In terms of quality and intimacy in personal relationships, women tend to have deeper social bonding with their peers, cliques, and friends than men. Women tend to share more of their negative emotional experiences with their inner circles of friends than men.

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2. Men tend to hide their emotions compared to women. In a patriarchal society, men are socialized by their parents to be strong, logical, active, and masculine in their personal ways. Sons are expected to avoid signs of femininity in dealing with problems of life.

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Although they are trained to be strong in real life problems, they are not socialized to handle well emotional problems such as divorce or serious breakups in romantic relationships. Thus, when their girlfriends and wives decide to end the relationship, they usually experience strong depression, loneliness, and imbalance in their daily routine. Men’s main confidante in romantic and marital relationships are usually their female partners. Thus, if the latter would divorce and reject them, the separation and emotional hurt are indeed very painful to them. In this case, many would resort to palliatives such as using drugs and alcoholism just to forget the past and minimize the emotional suffering.

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3. Men do not often express negative emotions compared to women (e.g., Burke et al., 1976; Levenson et al., 1994). Some studies have shown that there are gender differences in the stressful reactions to coping with negative daily life events and that women are more likely to use negative emotion-related coping strategies such as cognitive rumination and seeking emotional support than men (Matud, 2004; Tamres et al., 2002).

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Conclusion

In sum, it is true that men, especially the breadwinners, can easily cope well after a divorce or separation than women in the economic realm. But in the area of emotional and psychological adjustments, men tend to suffer more emotional pain and trauma and recover badly after a breakup compared to women. The socialization process or social upbringing of men in society that emphasizes reason, achievement, suppression of negative emotions, and focus on economic and social pursuits, rather than on fulfilling emotional needs for males, is a major contributory factor on why men tend to have less intimate friends and tend to be inhibited to share their emotional problems after a breakup.

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References

Avellar, S., and Smock, P.J. (2005). The economic consequences of the dissolution of cohabiting unions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 315327.

Bevvino, D.L., and Sharkin, B.S. (2003). Divorce adjustment as a function of finding meaning and gender differences. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 39, 8197.

Burke, R. J., Weir, T., & Harrison, D. (1976). Disclosure of problems and tensions experienced by marital partners. Psychological Reports, 38, 531–542.

Haugaard, J.J., and Seri, L.G. (2003). Stalking and other forms of intrusive contact after the dissolution of adolescent dating or romantic relationships. Violence and Victims, 18, 279297.

Levenson, R. W., Carstensen, L. L., & Gottman, J. M. (1994). The influence of age and gender on affect, physiology, and their interrelations: A study of long-term marriages. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 56–68.

Matud, M. P. (2004). Gender differences in stress and coping styles. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1401-1415.

Perriloux, C and Buss, D. (2008). Breaking up Romantic Relationships: Costs Experienced and Coping Strategies Deployed. Evolutionary Psychology. 

Tamres, L. K., Janicki, D., & Helgeson, V. S. (2002). Sex differences in coping behavior: A meta-analytic review and an examination of relative coping. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 2-30.

7 Top Myths on Love

1. Love is Natural.

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Love is not natural and biological but socially-learned in society. In the sociology of emotions, sociologists believe that people’s emotions are determined by society and culture. Thus, people’s deep feelings and emotions of love are primarily a product of cultural and social conditioning. In the same manner, people’s romantic feelings and expressions are learned and shaped by the local culture and not solely by biology. In many primitive societies, for instance, where arranged marriages and betrothals are common cultural practice, romantic love between the bride and groom is not a prerequisite for marriage.

2. First Love is the Deepest Love.

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People tend to over-romanticize first love. They put lots of emotional value to their first kiss, sexual experience, and first love. And while first experiences are important milestones, they generally aren’t the most significant. Most first loves are not serious. Not many people marry their first loves. The deepest hurt people experience are usually with those they seriously consider to live a life-long partnership, probably in marriage. The person who chose to build his/her life with someone for marital commitment is infinitely more important than the first person he/she fell in love with (Harris, nd.).

3. Love Will Make You Feel Complete.

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This is another myth. Only the person can make his/her life complete and meaningful. You’re the only one who can make yourself feel whole and fulfilled. Your partner can only assist you to achieve your life goals. If you’re waiting around for someone to complete you, you’re wasting your time. It’s not going to happen, and that’s an unfair expectation to put on someone who could otherwise make you very happy (Harris n.d.).

4. Love can Happen at First Sight

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“There’s no love at first sight, only lust at first sight. Sure, that lust can turn into love, but most people need time to get to know each other before they can be sure they want to commit (Harris, n.d.).” True love happens only when partners cohabit for a long time in marriage and accept each other’s faults. The first stage of love is infatuation where feelings of attraction are very strong. But these emotions can be fleeting. They can easily vanish when partners discover their real personalities, attitudes, and social background.

5. Love is an irrational emotion that you either are “in” or not “in.”

Not so, according to philosopher Berit Brogaard, author of On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about Complex Emotion. In fact, love admits of degrees: You can love a little, a lot, or not at all. Sometimes your feelings are quite rational; at others, they’re utterly irrational (Perry 2015).

6. You can’t make yourself fall out of love.

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But you can. Emotions are subject to a kind of rational control. You can use strategies to help you fall out of a love that’s wrong for you (Perry 2015)

7. Love is unpredictable.

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Don’t believe it, writes Gottman. Many replicable studies have demonstrated that love is quite predictable. In his own lab, he has been able to predict divorce over a six-year period with better than 90% accuracy. Much of that predictability is based on how couples handle conflict, and how many positive vs. negative comments they make to each other (Perry 2015).

GIFs Credit: Giphy.com

 

References

Perry, S. K. (8 Feb 2015). 10 Myths About Love, Exploded: 3 leading researchers on why old beliefs could leave you lonely. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creating-in-flow/201502/10-myths-about-love-exploded.

Harris, H. (n.d.). 10 Myths About Love You Need To Stop Believing If You Don’t Want To Be Disappointed. Retrieved from https://www.bolde.com/10-myths-love-need-stop-believing/.

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7 Top Traits Women Want in Men

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1. With Sense of Humor

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A sense of humor makes men attractive to women. Being able to laugh at the stresses of this world is a must, according to 77 percent of the women in one study. Men get bonus points if they can make women laugh. Humor tells a woman that you can laugh at the many difficulties that life throws at you.

Moreover, some studies showed that women typically choose better-looking guys for flings, not long-term relationships. Men with strong sense of humor may not necessarily be attractive. They also showed that women love men who make them smile and laugh, especially during times of stress and problems.

2. Intelligent

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A worldly, interesting man is a man 55 percent of women like to show off. Men who are problem solvers make women feel secure, and men who are always improving are never boring.

3. Confident

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A man who feels secure in his own skin makes the woman he’s with feel secure, according to 41 percent of women in one research study. By showing men can handle unfamiliar people or situations, they tell women in their life that they need not fear, either.

4. With High Earning Potential

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One in five women surveyed in one study said a man’s success in his career contributes to his sexiness. If you’ve demonstrated talent, goal achievement, and follow-through, you give women confidence that you will be a good provider.

5. With Great Ambition

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Men with great ambition in life is attractive to women. The ambition of achieving higher social status and social class in society can impress women who want their men to be successful. “Not ambition in the sense that you knock other people down to build yourself up, but in the fact that you will work hard to get what you want and help others to do the same thing” (Jordan).

6. Passionate About Life

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Women love men who are passionate in whatever they do in life. They also love men who live in the moment and enjoy life every day. It’s not about the destination, but about the journey in life that women expect from their male partners.

7. Brave

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Women are attracted to brave men who can face difficult situations with confidence.  Being brave, alert in emergency situations, is very attractive to women and indicates that they can protect them from all types of danger.

8. Famous

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If men are famous, then by definition a lot of people know them. If a lot of people know them, they are therefore important. Being important is very attractive to women. Popularity and achievement are attractive for female partners. Women want their men to be achievers, innovative, and leaders in their chosen fields.

Being famous men implies more social connection, prestige, and honor for their women. Popularity is an indicator of social status, one of the main sources of power in society, together with social class.

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Calo, C. (n.d.). the 100 Top Things that Attract Women to Men.Way Too Social. Retrieved from https://www.waytoosocial.com/top-100-things-that-attract-women-to-men/.

Jones, L. (17 April 2018). Top 20 Traits Women Want in a Man. Men’shealth. Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/a19535604/top-20-traits-she-wants/.

Jordan, S. (n.d.). 7 Qualities Women Find Attractive in Men. Lifehack. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-qualities-women-find-attractive-men.html.

 

Does Age Matter in a Romantic Relationship?

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” (Mark Twain).

INTRODUCTION

The saying that “Age doesn’t matter” is a popular expression among people for those who fall in love with a wide age gap. They say that love is blind. So, it’s okay to be blind by the age of one’s crush or lover. Experts on romantic love acknowledge that falling in love is indeed a strong positive energy that makes a person less aware of the consequences of having a big age gap in the romantic relationship. One can be so enamored with the other person’s beauty, popularity, personality, social status, or wealth, that he or she forgets that the other person is either too old or too young for him/her! I already encountered some people who fell in love or even got married despite a wide age difference. When I was a boy, our 20-year old nanny was having a secret love affair with our 60-year old neighbor who was a widower with married children. It was indeed embarrassing during their wedding ceremony as the officiating priest had mistaken the groom as the parent of the bride and one of the young best men as the groom! Despite the age gap, they manage to have 3 children before the old man died.

AGE AS A SOCIAL NORM IN SOCIETY

Age really does matter in a relationship despite romanticism of some people that it doesn’t affect romantic relationships. In sociology, age is an informal and unwritten social norm. Society has some standards on what age bracket is appropriate for a particular type of relationship, depending on the local culture. Whether one likes it or not, society has a way of classifying people engaging a particular type of social interaction. Defying this informal norm in a romantic relationship can lead to unintended informal and psychological sanction from the public, such as ridicule, suspicion, rumor, gossip, digital bashing in the social media, or even public shaming by people who strongly oppose the relationship. Try to hold hands and show romantic affection with an older man or woman while walking in a public park and you’ll never miss seeing people whispering or giggling in disbelief, or staring at you as if something is terribly wrong, especially when you’re in a rural setting! Generally, women like their men to be a little older and more experienced and mature in life. But if the age gap is quite wide, many people would probably start to think that it is not romantic love or true love that motivates the attraction but something else, maybe the wealth of the older partner.

Age as an informal norm in society is not, however, an absolute rule! One can see couples with a big age difference. Among the Hollywood celebrities, the famous actor Michael Douglas and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones were married despite their age difference. These Oscar winners tied their knot in 2000 when Catherine was 31 years old and Michael was 56.

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Michael, 56 years old, with wife Catherine, 31 (Photo credit: hollywood.com)

In the Philippines, the famous folk singer Freddie Aguilar fell in love with a 16-year old girl and managed to marry her in Islamic rites. Under the Shariah law, a 16-year old can contract a valid marriage but not under the current 1987 Family Code of the country for Christians. Apparently, both decided to change religion to tie the knot.

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Freddie, 60 years old, with his 16-year old wife (Photo credit: Poklat.com)

Another famous noontime TV host and comedian married a younger woman more than twice his age. The 61-year old veteran Filipino comedian Vic Sotto married the 27-year old TV host Pauleen Luna in a private wedding.

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Pauleen Luna, 27 years old and Vic Sotto, 61 (Photo Credit: gmanetwork.com)

If it is not an arranged marriage sanctioned by culture, people can be suspicious of the motive if they see romantic couples with a wide age gap. They often suspect wealth and/or social status as the main motive why the younger partner “falls in love” with the older guy. This suspicion can have a grain of truth. Normally, people are first attracted to others through their physicality. People project and communicate to the world through their bodies. Appearance matters during the initial encounter of partners in romantic love. Many surveys showed that the person’s eyes as the sexiest or most attractive body part during infatuation. They say that the eyes are the window of the person’s soul. The woman’s big breasts and butts associated with femininity and fertility are also attractive to men, while a tall height, a flat and strong abdomen and chest are attractive physical traits for women. But old people generally cannot boast their physical assets to attract younger people to enter into a romantic relationship with them. Thus, people become cynical about seeing a young and old couple romantically linked with each other.

Physicality, however, can take a backseat if the young and old partners become intimate and learn more about the cultural or non-physical aspects of the relationship such as knowing the other’s attitude, personality, social status, and value system. So people can be suspicious if a poor young woman falls in love with an old rich man as the latter’s youthful physicality has already been deteriorated by age. If he is not extremely handsome and sexy despite his age, it is understandable for them to conclude that it is not the physical appearance but probably the person’s wealth and social status that motivate her to love the other. Age then matters in discerning whether the relationship is truly a romantic love that can lead to marital love or just what the sociologist Anthony Giddens calls as “confluent love” or a contingent form of love without commitment, a love that is based on mutual and temporal satisfaction of the romantic partners–“enjoying the relationship while it lasts.”

In the next blog, we’ll discuss why a wide age gap can be a problem in the interaction and adjustment of the couple as they stay longer in the romantic relationship and marriage. This will also show that age matters in romantic or marital interaction! Cheers!