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  • Writer's pictureGiulia Zoppolat

Relationship Science Roundup - July 2021

The latest from the science of close relationships (and more).

Here is some of the best of July:

- Would you rather be friends first or lovers from the start? A new study out in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that 2/3 of romantic relationships start as friendships, and that most prefer it this way (rather than, for example, meeting someone on a dating app). This was even higher (85%) among 20-somethings and LGBT+ people. On average, people were friends for 1 to 2 years before becoming romantically involved. Friendships-to-lovers also seemed to have started as genuine platonic friendships before transforming. Summary of the article here.

- Does having a baby really ruin your relationship? A fascinating new article challenges this common idea. It seems that most couples (80%) continue to be committed and highly satisfied with their partner during the transition to parenthood. Of course, parenthood is not easy, and 1 out of 5 couples do experience important relational strain because of it. Article here.

- Socio-economic status (SES) impacts all areas of people’s lives, including their romantic relationships. People with lower SES tend to experience greater challenges in their relationships and are more likely to get divorced. One reason for this is that people with lower SES backgrounds may be caught between wanting & valuing their relationships (just as much as those with higher SES) but also needing to look out for themselves as to not be taken advantage of, and evaluate the costs and risks of both needs. New research examines this idea and provides an excellent overview on the link between SES and romantic relationships. In several studies, people with lower SES underestimated how committed their partner was to them (while people with higher SES didn’t), but only when feeling particularly vulnerable. Twitter thread about it here and full article here.

- Many couples experience financial stress, not necessarily only due to difficult financial situations, but also because the two partners do not agree on how to manage finances (e.g. budgeting, overspending). Financial disagreements are one of the most common reasons for break-up. Understanding one another’s views on finances might be helpful in navigating this common issue. Article here.

More interesting findings on relationships and wellbeing during the pandemic:

- Did mental health really decline a lot during the pandemic? Seems not so much, or at least it recovered from the early dips (nice summary in this Atlantic article). Scientific article here.

- Who do you blame for your stress? Stress is bad for relationships and can lead to things like greater tension and criticism, especially when the couple does not have the socio/emotional/practical/economic tools to cope. But this is not always the case, and a new paper found that people who blamed the pandemic rather than their romantic partner were better off. Summary article here.

Hope you enjoyed hearing about the latest in relationship science research! See you next month.

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