Also, thank you for so many wonderful comments on the last post. The kinds of feedback I got where absolutely amazing. Just don't give up on love!
Before I begin with the post, as usual, I just want to highlight some cool resources/links I found over the past few weeks.
1. The first is about how beneficial hugging and physical touch is for our health and well-being.
2. The second contains some advice to NEVER take. These are some of the worst things you can hear. Generally, if someone gives you any of these cliche, overgeneralized, short answers--whether you're married or not--don't take them. It's scary because much of this is coming from friends or family most likely as well.
3. The third is an interesting take on why romantic comedies (rom-coms) have gone downhill, and actually regressed over time.
4. The fourth comes from Science of Relationships, one of my top favorite and most-recommended relationship resources out there. It's a summary of the top three predictors of successful relationships, including: positive illusions, commitment, and love. While love and commitment are self-explanatory, positive illusions are "useful cognitive biases that let you think your boyfriend or girlfriend is the greatest person in the world. Positive illusions refer to the way you see your partner and how you understand his or her actions." Check out the article for more information.
5. The fifth alludes to previous posts/my thesis, and regards the question: what is love? However, in this case, it's funny how sometimes science isn't as accurate as something else: children. This is an account of what love is based on 4-8 year-old kids, and it's truly touching.
6. The sixth is about how young Indians are turning to online dating to curtail arranged marriage. Also included in the article is an exposé by my friend Lakshmi over at Chai With Lakshmi on new ways that middle-class Indians are meeting potential partners in Bangalore.
7. The sixth is actually not the main article (although it is just as interesting in and of itself), but it's actually the slideshow at the end. I found that each slide has great advice that I suggest everyone reflect on.
8. The last could be a post itself, but since it already fostered a vibrant Facebook discussion, I just wanted to mention it here instead of dedicating a post to it. It's entitled, "Diamonds Are A Sham And It's Time We Stop Getting Engaged With Them." Here is a summary of the article: "Americans exchange diamond rings as part of the engagement process, because in 1938, [the American jewelry company] De Beers decided that they would like us to. Nearly every (American) marriage begins with a diamond because a bunch of rich white men in the '40s convinced everyone that it determines your self-worth. You think that you need to spend two month’s salary on a ring because the suppliers of the product said so. Diamonds are not actually scarce, make a terrible investment, and are purely valuable as a status symbol. Diamonds...are bullshit."
In response to the article, I stated that, while of course it's everyone's personal decision to make and there is a great social emphasis to buy a diamond since so many individuals are socialized into understanding that's just "how it works," there are things to consider. When many American (and Lebanese, and many other) couples are already in debt, expensive rings and weddings really are the last thing we need. It just goes to show that when it comes to personal finance, we have absolutely NO regard what is best for our children. People have agency. They can do what they want. But diamonds are arbitrarily expensive. Most people getting married (in the US specifically I mean) already have massive amounts of student loan and/or credit card debt. How is it prudent to tell them that they need invest in a worthless (money-wise) investment in order to prove their loyalty? I just don't think it's contributing to creating new marriages on a healthy footing. That said, will I buy one one day? Maybe, we'll see. But the sheer idea that you HAVE to definitely bothers me.
Feel free to share your comments about this below. And for more information, check out this in-depth article in The Atlantic.
|Oh right, and that...|
So, now that all of that business is out of the way, we can get into the heart of this post. As you can tell by the title, this post is all about ex's: ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-everything. I'm sure almost all of you can relate to this topic, regardless of your cultural background (although, bearing in mind the purpose of this blog, don't forget that a lot of people out there don't even have the luxury of dating, or the ability to divorce). I am also happy that this post can get back to the normal paradigm that has defined LOVEanon, and that is a review of a subject based on relationship research. As I said, most people have an ex-boyfriend and/or ex-girlfriend out there somewhere. However, can you and should you stay friends/connected with them after the break-up? This was actually a question posed by a friend, and he asked me to tackle the issue.
However, it's not surprising. For years, I've heard of people grappling with the question. After I took that screenshot, I just wanted to see what some of the first few links that came up said. Again, I was surprised. Some of the advice from the different links didn't sound as bad as I had assumed it would actually. For instance, the two authors of the book DUMPED presented a 10-point list of things you shouldn't do after a break-up that I thought was sound advice. Another was this one from WikiHow of all places. It details some steps to take that could help preserve a relationship after the break-up, and has a nice video at the end as well (however, I suggest that before taking any of that advice, you check out Battegalia, Richard, Datteri, and Lord's (1998) very interesting study that analyzed various factors associated with breaking-up, and synthesized a script for relationship dissolution). This one's from the folks at eHarmony (an online dating service) that presents three reasons why it could be a good idea to stay friends, and three reasons why it may not be a good idea to stay friends. Lastly, this article out of Australia, it documented stories of different couples, and how they either remained and or did not remain friends. One of the best quotes was this: "Psychologist Dr Melissa Keogh told news.com.au there was no black and white when it came to developing a friendship after a break up, but there was one golden rule: if you are still in love with that person, do not go there."
|And let the funny photos related to ex's commence!|
The first was a Q&A with the appropriately-named Dr. Tim Loving, a relationship researcher and psychologist, co-founder/frequent collaborator on SofR, and Associate Editor of the journal Personal Relationships. In other words, the guy's got some serious cred. In a response to a letter someone submitted asking about whether or not a girl and her ex-boyfriend should be friends (as they were), he discussed "cognitive interdependence" (Agnew, Van Lange, Rusbult, and Langston, 1998), or what is developed when we become more involved and committed to a partner. He concludes that the more you stay in touch with your ex and the more you do things with him/her, the harder it is going to be for you to emotionally and cognitively disengage from them. Moreover, bear in mind that love really is like a drug--in terms of how it affects our brain (Bartels and Zeki, 2000; Fisher, Brown, Aron, Strong, and Mashek, 2010). Thus, when you break-up (especially if it was an emotionally intense relationship), it's analogous to overcoming a drug addiction or quitting smoking, cold turkey.
Dr. Loving didn't necessarily say yes or no (and I think as we will see, there's often not one straight yes or no answer to most questions regarding relationship matters), however, he did shed light on the consequences of not respecting space. In another SofR article, Dr. Brent Mattingly offered some statistics to help frame the facts as well as six ways you can stay friends after a breakup that are supported by research. For instance, according to one study, "about 60% of ex-partners do not have contact with one another post-break-up (Kellas, Bean, Cunningham, and Cheng, 2008). He then gave the six factors that make it more likely for couples to stay friends after a break-up (otherwise known as post-relationship dissolution (or termination) friendship):
1. Being friends before the romantic relationship commenced.
2. If the break-up was mutual, or if it was initiated by a man (assuming a heterosexual relationship).
3. If they are still attracted to one another (however, it is important to avoid the often-doomed "on-again/off-again" relationships (e.g., Dailey, Rossetto, Pfiester, and Surra, 2009; Halpern-Meekin, Manning, Giordano, and Longmore, 2013).
4. If the romantic relationship was satisfying.
5. If there is friend, family, and social network support (something I have blogged about extensively).
(I purposefully omitted number six because I will discuss it later).
What do each of these tell us? He provides a great analysis of each as well as the references for where he gleaned the information, and I suggest you check out his words instead of my paraphrased ones because it's really interesting. But I will say that it adds even more layers to the complexity of finding an appropriate answer.
|Of course, things are always easier if she doesn't have superpowers|
|Examples of attachment gone wrong. Yeah... about that......|
|I think you get the point. P.S. Guy or girl regardless, DON'T be this person.|
|We should all strive to be like this, but especially if you're heart is broken, it is hard.|
What are you comments? Are you friends with your ex(s)? Let me know! And also, don't forget to like LOVEanon's Facebook Page to get weekly posts with links, videos, photos, and other resources, or follow me on Twitter (@MikeOghia).
And as always, spread the love,
Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter, and John Bowlby. 1991. "An Ethological Approach to Personality Development." American Psychologist, 46(4): 333-341.
Agnew, Christopher R., Paul A. M. Van Lange, Caryl E. Rusbult, and Christopher A. Langston. 1998. "Cognitive Interdependence: Commitment and the Mental Representation of Close Relationships." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(4): 939-954.
Battaglia, Dina M., Francis D. Richard, Darcee L. Datteri, and Charles G. Lord. 1998. "Breaking Up is (Relatively) Easy to Do: A Script for the Dissolution of Close Relationships." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(6): 829-845.
Bowlby, John. 1983 . Attachment: Attachment and Loss (vol. 1) (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books.
----. 1977. "The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds. I. Aetiology and Psychopathology in the Light of Attachment Theory. An Expanded Version of the Fiftieth Maudsley Lecture, Delivered Before the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 19 November 1976." The British Journal of Psychiatry, 130: 201-210.
Bartels, Andreas, and Semir Zeki. 2000. "The Neural Basis of Romantic Love." Motivation, Emotion, Feeding, & Drinking, 11(17): 3829-3834.
Dailey, René M., Kelly R. Rossetto, Abigail Pfiester, Catherine A. Surra. 2009. "A Qualitative Analysis of On-again/Off-again Romantic Relationships: "It's Up and Down, All Around."" Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26: 443-466.
Fisher, Helen E., Lucy L. Brown, Arthur Aron, Greg Strong, and Debra Mashek. 2010. "Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection in Love." Journal of Neurophysiology, 104(1): 51-60.
Halpern-Meekin, Sarah, Wendy D. Manning, Peggy C. Giordano, Monica A. Longmore. 2013. "Relationship Churning in Emerging Adulthood: On/Off Relationships and Sex With an Ex."
Journal of Adolescent Research, 28(2): 166-188.
Harkless, Lynne. E., and Blaine J. Fowers. 2005. "Similarities and Differences in Relational Boundaries Among Heterosexuals, Gay Men, and Lesbians." Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29(2): 167-176.
Hazan, Cindy, and Phillip A. Shaver. 1992. "Broken Attachments: Relationship Loss From the Perspective of Attachment Theory." Pp. 90-108 in Close Relationship Loss: Theoretical Approaches, edited by Terri L. Orbuch. New York, NY: Springer.
----. 1987. "Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(3): 511–523.
Kellas, Jody K., Dawn Bean, Cherakah Cunningham, and Ka Yun Cheng. 2008. "The Ex-files: Trajectories, Turning Points, and Adjustment in the Development of Post-dissolutional Relationships." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25: 23-50.
Kurdek, Lawrence A. 1991. "The Dissolution of Gay and Lesbian Couples" Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 8: 265-278.
Marshall, Tara C. 2012. "Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with Post-Breakup Recovery and Personal Growth." Cyberpsychology, Behavior, & Social Networking, 15(10): 521-526.
Sprecher, Susan. 1994. "Two Sides to the Breakup of Dating Relationships." Personal Relationships, 1: 199-222.
For further reading, see:
Stephen, Timothy. 1987. "Attribution and Adjustment to Relationship Termination." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4: 47-61.
P.S. I always loved this song about ex's (ironically, introduced to me by an ex):