Love and Communication in Intimate Relationships

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Chapter 8: Love and Communication in
Intimate Relationships

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Copyright 2016 © McGraw-Hill Education. Permission required for reproduction or display

Main Topics

  • Friendship and love
  • Love and sexuality
  • How do I love thee? Approaches and attitudes related to love
  • Jealousy
  • Making love last: From passion to intimacy
  • The nature of communication
  • Sexual communication
  • Developing communication skills
  • Conflict and intimacy

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Friendship and Love

  • Breathe life into humanity
  • Bind us together
  • Provide emotional sustenance
  • Buffer us against stress
  • Help to preserve our physical and mental well-being
  • Love and friendship are alike in many ways
  • Some crucial differences make love relationships both more rewarding and more vulnerable

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Love and Sexuality

  • Are intimately intertwined
  • Sexual standards have become personal rather than institutional
  • Two important factors in sexual activity
  • Level of intimacy
  • Length of time couple has been together
  • Environmental factors influence the level of sexual activity
  • Physical environment
  • Cultural setting

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Love and Sexuality –
Men, Women, Sex, and Love

  • Men and women have different perspectives on love and sex
  • These varied views are a result of
  • Demographics
  • Gender differences
  • Cultural differences
  • Love is equally important for heterosexuals as it is for non-heterosexuals

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Love and Sexuality – Love Without Sex: Celibacy and Asexuality

  • Celibacy – Abstention from sexual activity
  • Not necessarily a symptom of a problem or disorder
  • Asexuality – The absence of a traditional sexual orientation
  • Little or no sexual attraction to males or females
  • Implies an assumption that some level of sexual desire is normal

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How do I Love Thee? Approaches
and Attitudes Related to Love

  • Love and sex are closely linked in the ideal intimate relationship
  • Love reflects care—draws people together and sustains them in a relationship
  • Sex reflects both closeness and sexual excitement
  • Differentiates romantic love from other forms of love, such as parental love

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How do I Love Thee? Approaches and Attitudes Related to Love

  • Styles of love – Sociologist John Lee describes six basic styles of love
  • Eros – Love of beauty
  • Mania – Obsessive and possessive love
  • Ludus – Playful love
  • Storge – Love between companions
  • Agape – Brotherly love
  • Pragma – Practical love

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Figure 1: Sternberg’s
Triangular Theory of Love

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How do I Love Thee? Approaches and Attitudes Related to Love

  • The components of love
  • 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 times of need
  • Being able to understand your partner
  • 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 your partner’s presence in your life

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How do I Love Thee? Approaches and Attitudes Related to Love

  • Kinds of love
  • 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 (decision/commitment only)
  • Nonlove (absence of intimacy, passion, and commitment)

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Figure 2: Geometry of Love

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How do I Love Thee? Approaches and Attitudes Related to Love

  • Love as attachment
  • Infant – Caregiver attachment
  • Romantic love – Types of attachment
  • Secure
  • Anxious/ambivalent
  • Avoidant
  • Unrequited love
  • Love that is not returned
  • Distressing for those involved

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Jealousy

  • Understanding jealousy
  • When irrational, we can eliminate some of its pain
  • Can help cement or destroy a relationship
  • Often linked to violence in marriages and dating relationships
  • It is an aversive response
  • Occurs because of a partner’s real, imagined, or likely involvement with a third person
  • Sets boundaries for behaviors that are acceptable in relationships

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Jealousy

Psychological dimension

  • Makes one feel less attractive and acceptable to the partner
  • Enriches relationships and sparks passion
  • Sex differences in the context and expression of jealousy

Men more than women are upset by a partner’s sexual infidelity

Women more than men are upset by a partner’s emotional infidelity

  • Managing jealousy
  • Irrational jealousy can be dealt with by addressing the underlying causes of insecurity
  • If the jealousy is well founded, the partner may need to modify or end the relationship with the third party
  • Understanding and insightful thinking is the best way to deal with jealousy

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Jealousy –
Extradyadic Involvement

  • Sexual or romantic relationships outside of a primary relationship
  • Forms of extradyadic involvement
  • Sexual but not emotional
  • Sexual and emotional
  • Emotional but not sexual

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Jealousy –
Extradyadic Involvement

  • Dating and cohabiting relationships
  • Exclusive marriages and partnerships
  • Nonexclusive marriages and partnerships
  • Open in which intimate but nonsexual friendships with others are encouraged
  • Open in which outside sexual relationships are allowed
  • Group marriage/multiple relationships
  • Open marriage
  • Swingers or polyamorists

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Making Love Last:
From Passion to Intimacy

  • Intimate love
  • Commitment
  • Determination to continue a relationship or marriage in the face of bad times as well as good
  • Caring
  • Making of another person’s needs as important as your own
  • Self-disclosure
  • Revelation of personal information

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The Nature of Communication

  • Communication is a transactional process
  • Cultural context
  • Language that is used
  • Values, beliefs, and customs associated with it
  • Social context
  • Status – A person’s position or ranking in a group is important
  • Psychological context
  • Determines how people communicate
  • Individuals are unique
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Typically, communication of feeling is nonverbal – Proximity, eye contact, touching

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Sexual Communication –
In Beginning Relationships

  • The halo effect
  • Assumption that attractive or charismatic people also possess more desirable social characteristics than are actually present
  • Interest and opening lines
  • First move and beyond
  • Directing sexual activity

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Sexual Communication –
In Established Relationships

  • Partners tend to be indirect and ambiguous in their sexual communication
  • Indirection allows them to express sexual interest
  • Within heterosexual relationships men continue to overtly initiate sexual encounters
  • Many women feel more comfortable with overtly initiating sex

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Sexual Communication – Initiating Sexual Activity

  • Sexual initiations are more successful in long-term relationships than in new or dating relationships
  • In non-heterosexual relationships, the more emotionally expressive partner is likely to initiate sexual interaction
  • Gender differences in partner communication
  • Some men may avoid talking about feelings and personal issues
  • Some women may be inclined to show more interest and seek agreement and acceptance in the context of the sexual relationship

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Developing Communication Skills – Talking about Sex

  • Good communication is central to a healthy intimate relationship
  • Obstacles to discussing sex
  • No models for talking about sexuality
  • Defines as being interested in sex which is considered immoral, prurient
  • Belief is that talking about it will threaten the relationship
  • Keys to good communication
  • Self-disclosure
  • Trust
  • Feedback

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Figure 3: Communication Loop

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Conflict and Intimacy

  • Conflict – Process in which people perceive incompatible goals and interference from others in achieving their goals
  • The more intimate two people become, the more likely they are to experience conflict
  • Engaging in nondestructive conflict can assist couples in enhancing their relationship
  • Sexual conflict
  • Arguing about sex

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Conflict and Intimacy

  • Conflict resolution
  • Defusing conflict
  • Communicating with affection and interest
  • Using humor when appropriate
  • If a relationship is sound, differences can be absorbed
  • Coexistence focuses on the people we have the most power over—ourselves

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Final Thoughts

  • Friendship and love
  • Love and sexuality
  • How do I love thee? Approaches and attitudes related to love
  • Jealousy
  • Making love last: From passion to intimacy
  • The nature of communication
  • Sexual communication
  • Developing communication skills
  • Conflict and intimacy