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Summary: Different Sorts of Relationships

Classic work on friendship by Theodore Newcomb proposed four factors that might lead to a friendship. The most powerful is proximity, also called propinquity (the coincidence of being close).

For example, students who live near each other in a dorm are likely to become friends. Reciprocity (liking someone who likes you) is also well documented as promoting friendship.

When Anderson had students select which of 555 adjectives would describe a good friend, a collection of character­istics emerged that might be called reliability or authenticity. Good friends are dependable and honest.

Good-looking people also have an advantage; people rate them as more likable even when they are strangers. The matching hypothesis suggests that people are attracted to those who are approximately as attractive as them­selves.

Infatuation or limerence is a powerful chemical reaction occurring early in relationships. Reports of love at first sight express limerence, although these are retrospective self-reports and probably very selectively reported, with enhancements.

J. A. Lee defined six varieties of love. Eros is romantic and passionate; this is the type found most frequently in happy long-term marriages. Ludus is a game-playing or uncommitted love; storge is a slow developing, friendship-based love, and three other types were described.

Sex and aggression are tied together by the effects of hormones. Steroids increase both sexual and aggressive impulses.

A monkey that wins a fight for dominance secretes more testosterone, adds muscle mass, and mates more often. Tennis players who won matches in a tournament were found to have increases in testosterone.The

Erich Fromm described a pattern he called psychological sadism, visible when one person dominates and humiliates the other on a regular basis, in a relationship. Some writers argue that a masochistic or teasing role is natural for human females; others find that idea an appalling example of sexism in our culture.

The jealous male, especially one who dominates or threatens violence in a relationship, is typically a person with low self-esteem. A troubled family back­ground is also typical in males who combat insecurity with a domineering attitude.


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


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