Written by Janet Giron-Legarda
Bipolar Disorder (BD) and related disorders, which include Bipolar Disorder I, Bipolar Disorder II, Cyclothymic Disorder, Substance/Medication-Induced Bipolar and related disorder, Bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition, other Specified Bipolar and related disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar and related disorder, involve individuals experiencing mild to extreme episodes of manic and depressive moods (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Each of the disorders has its own set of criteria for diagnosis. The criteria include how many episodes an individual experiences in a set amount of time, how severe the episode is, how long the episode lasts, and which type of mood episode the individual experiences. These changes in mood may cause difficulties in many areas of an individual’s life. By informing oneself of the warning signs of an impending episode, you can prepare for the coming mood cycles and get your partner the help they may need. Relationships involving at least one partner with BD are more likely to “experience relationship distress and dissolution” (Rowe & Morris, 2012, p. 328). We will be focusing primarily on the general effects that Bipolar Disorder I and Bipolar Disorder II have on relationships. Information about diagnostic criteria and other facts about BD can be found at this link.
Defining Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder
Recognizing symptoms of BD will help to understand the impact of the disorder on a romantic partnership. Mood swings are either hypomanic or manic, mild to moderate or severe depressive, or mixed episodes. Hypomanic or manic episodes consist of “hyperactivity, euphoria, talkativeness, grandiose ideas, irritability, reckless behavior, marked distractibility, loss of normal inhibitions and decreased need for sleep” (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008, p. 6). Hypomania is more commonly associated with Bipolar Disorder II. These episodes include “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased activity or energy, lasting at least 4 consecutive days…(with) a noticeable change from usual behavior” (APA, 2013, p. 132). Bipolar Disorder I is more commonly associated with manic episodes. In order to meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) for a manic episode, an individual will be “abnormally, persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable…and (have) persistently increased activity or energy that is present for most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least 1 week, accompanied by at least 3 additional symptoms” (APA, 2013, p. 127). During manic episodes, the individual may be unable to engage in ordinary communication, which can affect relationships with others (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008).
Major depressive episodes must have 5 or more of the symptoms identified in the DSM-5 for a 2-week period and “represent a change from previous functioning,” including either “depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure” (APA, 2013, p. 125). Depressive episodes can range from mild to severe and are “characterized by lowering of mood, reduced activity and energy, tiredness, sleep disturbances, reduced self-esteem, ideas of guilt or worthlessness, reduced capacity of interest and enjoyment, psychosomatic symptoms, suicidal thoughts and acts” (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008, p. 6). During depressive episodes, individuals who suffer from BD may experience starvation, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, suicide (Tranvåg & Kristoffersen, 2008). In situations involving both manic and depressive episodes, an individual diagnosed with BD may experience symptoms of psychosis, including delusion and hallucinations. Mixed episodes are when an individual experiences symptoms of hypomania, mania, or depression at the same time. According to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013), the “mixed features specifier can apply to the current manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode in Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorder” (p. 149).
Bipolar Disorder and Relationships
The behavior of an individual diagnosed with BD can affect his/her partner’s behavior; a BD-related episode can cause significant strain on the relationship and the individual’s partner. Individuals diagnosed with BD have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners. Problems arise in many important areas of life when coping with BD such as financial problems, difficulties in sexual relations, poor communication, and loss of stability and security (Rusner, Carlsson, Nyström, & Brunt, 2012; Sheets & Miller, 2010; Tranvåg & Kristoffersen 2008). The mood swings and symptoms associated with a diagnosis of BD can have aversive effects on close relationships. For instance, stress can lead to a number of physical problems, such as body aches and depression. Additionally, partners of individuals diagnosed with BD may grow to resent their partners for the disorder (Rusner et al., 2012).
The quality of the relationship changes as an individual goes through mood episodes and as his/her partner adjusts to life with a partner diagnosed with BD. Relationship distress is common with either manic or depressive episodes; however, according Sheets and Miller’s (2010) article, “patient depressive symptoms were significantly associated with patient perception of family and couple functioning” (p. 375). The effects of manic symptoms experienced by individuals diagnosed with BD are highly correlated with poor intimate relationship functioning for their partners (Sheets & Miller, 2010).
Bipolar Relationships and Managing Life
According to Rowe and Morris (2012), mood changes experienced by both partners are linked to overall relationship quality; therefore, partners must pay attention to not only the individual diagnosed with BD, but their own mental health and wellness, too. Understanding both partners’ mental health has the potential to increase quality of the relationship, assists in coping with BD, and provide a better understanding of the onset of an episode.
In conclusion, learning the signs of an oncoming episode can help to prevent extreme symptoms and allow adequate time to get help. Educating oneself about BD and communicating with your partner can be beneficial to the relationship. Being knowledgeable about what your partner experiences with BD and ways you can help him/her during times of need can help reaffirm your commitment to your relationship and partner. Also, partners should not treat individuals diagnosed with BD if they are incapable of living a normal life. Individuals diagnosed with BD are more than the disorder itself and should be treated with respect.
More information about BD can be found at this link.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
Rowe, L., & Morris, A. (2012). Patient and partner correlates of couple relationship functioning in bipolar disorder. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 328-336.
Rusner, M., Carlsson, G., Nyström, M., & Brunt, D. (2012). The paradox of being both needed and rejected: The existential meaning of being closely related to a person with bipolar disorder. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 200-204.
Sheets, E., & Miller, I. (2010). Predictors of relationship functioning for patients with bipolar disorder and their partners. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 372-375.
Tranvåg, O., & Kristoffersen, K. (2008). Experience of being the spouse/cohabitant of a person with bipolar affective disorder: a cumulative process over time. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 22(1), 6-10.
Written by Jess Brink
Being in a long-distance relationship is a phenomenon that many individuals experience at least once in their lives. When embarking on this journey, many tend to cite the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” for both comfort and motivation. Research suggests that this saying may hold some truth, and many individuals in long-distance relationships report higher trust levels and better communication than those of closer proximity (Jiang & Hancock, 2013). Although face to face contact is of vast importance in relationships, research suggests that long-distance partners more commonly report greater satisfaction in their relationships than geographically close couples (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). One explanation for this may be increased “romantic idealization” in long-distance couples; romantic idealization refers to describing and thinking of the relationship and one’s partner in unrealistic positive ways (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Long -distance relationships seem to be the key to happiness, better communication, and increased trust, but once the members of the couple move closer geographically, these effects may change (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Stafford and Merolla (2007) also considered what happens when long-distance couples move closer geographically.
Does distance make the heart grow fonder?
Laura Stafford and Andy J. Merolla of Ohio State University decided to look at romantic idealization in long-distance relationships, in comparison to geographically close relationships. In the first study, they hypothesized three different outcomes: 1) long-distance couples idealize the relationship more than geographically close couples; 2) long-distance couples think of their conversations more positively than geographically close couples; and 3) long-distance couples experience less face to face communication than geographically close couples do (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). In a study containing 122 heterosexual couples, with 58 being long-distance, the researchers had participants fill out several surveys examining idealization, partners’ perceptions of romantic love, communication satisfaction, and the amount that the couples think and talk about their shared pasts (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Through this study, Stafford and Merolla (2007) found that long-distance couples do tend to think of their relationships in unrealistic positive ways, particularly in relationships with less face-to-face communication. More recent studies (e.g., Jiang & Hancock, 2013) have concluded that long-distance couples express a higher level of intimacy than geographically close couples. Stafford and Merolla (2007) found that couples in long-distance relationships report higher satisfaction than those in geographically close relationships. Texting, video chats, and scheduling to see one another in person can aid satisfaction in these long-distance relationships. As it was previously mentioned, face to face contact can be extremely important to maintaining a relationship. Although many long-distance couples report higher levels of satisfaction while apart, what happens when the couple members move closer together?
Does the heart stay fond when couples move closer together?
In a second study, Stafford and Merolla (2007) reached out to the individuals who participated in the first study. Participants were asked to complete additional surveys, addressing if they had moved closer to their partners and if they were still involved with the same partners. The study revealed that couples who went from long-distance relationships to residing in similar locations were twice as likely to break up, compared to couples who remained in long-distance relationships (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). They also found that couples with the highest levels of idealization were most likely to break up upon becoming geographically close (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). One explanation for these break ups is that individuals do not live up to the impossible standards that were held by their partners while separated (Merolla, & Castle, 2006; Sahlstein, 2006; Stafford, Stafford & Reske, 1990). Another explanation for the demise of long-distance couples when they reconcile is that the couple members are strangers in some ways. During the time that the couples were separated by distance, they may have grown to believe that they had a deep understanding of their partners. The distance allowed them to ignore potential flaws and to remain unaware of changes in their partners (Stafford & Merolla, 2007). Upon moving closer to a long-distance partner, it may be useful to have a discussion about what to expect. Discussing expectations of the relationship with a partner can help negate any negative feelings that could possibly occur if those expectations are not met. Additionally, one should try to let one's partner know about any new, important changes in one's life. The more a partner is aware of personal changes, the less likely it will be that these changes will have a negative impact on the relationship at a later time.
What does this mean for long-distance couples?
In long-distance relationships, the lack of face to face communication can make the relationship stronger and happier, provided that the couple remains long-distance. However, more time spent face to face can be vital in keeping a long-distance relationship successful once the couple moves closer together. Although a high level of relationship idealization can be the kiss of death for long-distance couples once brought together, a certain level of idealization in any relationship is considered necessary for growth and satisfaction (Murray & Holmes, 1997). Long-distance relationships can be difficult, and moving closer together can be more difficult on the couple in the long run. Therefore, if you find yourself in a long-distance relationship, it is important to spend as much time with your partner as possible. It is also important to try to stay positive, but not overly positive, about the relationship. Perceptions of the relationship should be kept within realistic bounds, with just a little bit of fantasy sprinkled in.
Jiang, C, L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal Of Communication, 63(3), 556-577.
Sahlstein, E. (2006). The trouble with distance. In D. C. Kirkpatrick, S. D. Duck, & M. K. Foley (Eds.), Relating difficulty: The process of constructing and managing difficult relationships (pp. 119–140). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Stafford, L., & Merolla, A. J. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(1), 37-54.
Stafford, L., Merolla, A. J., & Castle, J. (2006). When long-distance dating partners become geographically close. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6), 901–919.
Stafford, L., & Reske, J. R. (1990). Idealization and communication in long-distance premarital relationships. Family Relations, 39, 274–279.
Murray, S. L., & Holmes, J. G. (1997). A leap of faith? Positive illusions in romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 586–604.
Written by Mandi Ryan
When an individual violates what would be considered a norm or expectation within their relationship with another individual, this violation is referred to as a betrayal (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002). Forgiveness includes the set of changes someone experiences when they become less motivated to retaliate and more motivated to reconcile with the wrongdoer (McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997). Do you ever wonder why certain people seem to continuously forgive their significant other when they’ve been wronged? A victim’s initial response after a betrayal incident is often vengeance and resentment (Finkel, Rusbult, Kumashiro, & Hannon, 2002). The likelihood that one might move past these impulses and learn to forgive relies on a few different factors.
Is the victim or perpetrator more responsible within the forgiveness process?
Does forgiveness lie in the hands of the victim, or do perpetrators ultimately control whether or not they will be forgiven? Researchers found that the presence of positivity in one of these particular roles (i.e., victim or perpetrator) is critical during the forgiveness process (Hannon, Rusbult, Finkel, & Kamashiro, 2010). This process involves a victim's change in emotion and attitude towards an offender (American Psychological Association, 2006). In part one of their study, researchers examined whether the perpetrator’s positive behavior following a betrayal predicted increases in the victim’s positive behavior or whether the opposite was true. They found that when the perpetrator apologizes and offers amends soon after the wrongdoing, victim forgiveness is more likely to occur (Hannon, Rusbult, Finkel, & Kamashiro, 2010). However, the victim’s positive behavior after a betrayal did not seem to increase the chances of the perpetrator offering amends. The perpetrator’s apology may not always need to be verbal, or explicit. If the amends seem insincere to the victim, the actions tend to backfire. For example, if Jesse violates a relationship norm within a marriage to Jamie, Jesse would need to respond in a loving and caring manner in order to be forgiven. Responding with defensiveness or hostility may cause Jamie to be less forgiving. On the other hand, once Jesse offers a clear and sincere apology, this effort will likely reduce Jamie’s uncertainties and promote forgiveness (Hannon, Rusbult, Finkel, & Kamashiro, 2010).
What is the next step after forgiveness?
Will the relationship survive, or will resolving the betrayal be more difficult than Jesse and Jamie originally believed? Researchers found that the process of betrayal resolution is highly interpersonal. Regardless of the role, a partner’s perceptions of whether or not a betrayal has been resolved is shaped by their partner’s behavior (Hannon, Rusbult, Finkel, & Kamashiro, 2010). For example, if Jamie decides to forgive Jesse, the couple will need to decide to move past the issue. After forgiveness has occurred, the behavior that Jesse exhibits may be judged more harshly and be subject to more scrutiny while Jamie is identifying whether or not the betrayal has been successfully resolved.
What happens if the betrayal is left unresolved?
When amends are offered and forgiveness is granted, complete reconciliation is still uncertain. The individuals may not return to their prior functioning as a couple. How one acts in the wake of betrayal may reveal a lot about how much that person values the relationship (Holmes & Rempel, 1989). A couple's actions after a betrayal can reveal meaningful information about each person’s dispositions, values, motives, and act as predictors for future behavior (Hannon, Rusbult, Finkel, & Kamashiro, 2010). For example, Jesse may assert that the betrayal will not occur again, apologize for the pain that it caused, and begin to behave in ways that compensate for the betrayal. As a result, Jamie may believe that Jesse now has a better understanding of Jamie’s expectations and values regarding their relationship. On the other hand, Jesse may instead claim that Jamie’s expectations are unreasonable following the betrayal and attempt to belittle Jamie. Both of these patterns of behavior would reveal important information regarding Jesse’s attitude and feelings toward the relationship, which may have remained hidden if the betrayal had not occurred.
In conclusion, both the victim’s behavior and the perpetrator’s behavior influence the manner in which betrayals are experienced and resolved. The perpetrator’s amends promote the victim’s forgiveness, and both of these play a key role in the resolution of betrayal incidents. Subsequently, the study revealed that betrayal resolution is beneficial to relationships from the viewpoint of both the victim and the perpetrator. Therefore, if you ever betray your significant other, offering an apology sooner will allow your partner to begin the transition from vengeance to forgiveness more quickly. If your apology is accepted, and you are forgiven, your actions thereafter will determine whether or not the betrayal was successfully resolved.
American Psychological Association, (2006). Forgiveness: A Sampling of Research Results. Washington, DC: Office of International Affairs. Reprinted, 2008.
Finkel, E. J., Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., & Hannon, P. A. (2002). Dealing with betrayal in close relationships: Does commitment promote forgiveness? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 956–974.
Hannon, P. A., Rusbult, C. E., Finkel, E. J., & Kamashiro, M. (2010). In the wake of betrayal: Amends, forgiveness, and the resolution of betrayal. Personal Relationships, 17(2), 253-278. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01275.x
Holmes, J. G., & Rempel, J. K. (1989). Trust in close relationships. In C. Hendrick (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 187–220). London, England: Sage.
McCullough, M. E., Worthington, E. L., & Rachal, K. C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 321–336.
Written by Haley Hembree
Social media use among young adults has changed relationship dynamics over the last 10 years. Increases in social media use may change interpersonal interaction in the future. Most studies on social media impact focus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (e.g., Utz, Muscanell, & Cameran, 2015). However, one recently popular platform has been excluded from most media research. Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers and young adults. Snapchat is an app that allows users to send pictures or quick videos to another user (usually accompanied by a short text), with the picture or video disappearing soon after being sent. These quick messages, or “snaps,” can only be saved if a screenshot is taken, and the sender of the snap will be notified. Most of the sent pictures include images of funny and mundane material. Most young adults report using Snapchat to send funny images, pictures of themselves, and pictures of what they are currently doing (Utz et al., 2015).
Snapchat's Role in Romantic Partner Jealousy
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this app. The advantage that Snapchat has over its competitors is the illusion of privacy and the disappearance of content, which many enjoy. Public content on social media is often posted for a large audience, while many send individual snaps on Snapchat. More intimate conversation and more raw content can be sent with a degree of confidence that it will not be viewed by others. Self-disclosure and maintenance are important factors in romantic relationships (Yang, Brown, & Braun, 2014). Jealousy among romantic partners increases with Snapchat use, which may be its greatest disadvantage (Utz et al., 2015). The “Best Friends” feature, the list of the top three people one snaps the most, added tension to romantic relationships when a partner found out that they were not included on this list. A worse situation that evokes jealousy occurs when a partner adds his or her ex-partner. Adding previous romantic partners or attractive competitors to a network is generally unsettling for current romantic partners, and distrust occurs. “This makes sense in the context that snaps can be made to disappear in a matter of seconds, leaving little evidence of extra-relational communication” (Vaterlaus, Barnett, Roche, & Young, 2016, p. 430). Additionally, a few have been concerned that disappearing pictures would increase sexting. However, only 13% say that they use Snapchat for sexting in general, and less than two percent of Americans say that they use Snapchat primarily for sexual content (Roesner, Gill, & Kohno, 2014).
Generational Differences in Snapchat Use
One interesting aspect of Snapchat use is the “youth culture” that has developed. Vaterlaus and Tuane (2015) discuss generational differences surrounding media use. This new media culture “(a) includes shared rules, beliefs, and meaning around media use and (b) is often invisible to adults” (Vaterlaus & Tuane, 2015, p. 6). A common thread of unwritten rules governs what is considered to be appropriate use on Snapchat. These unspoken beliefs clearly dictate a generational difference, as youth often express annoyance at the older generation, particularly parents, who break these norms. Young adults frequently stated that their parent did not see the value in this technology (Vaterlaus & Tuane, 2015). Most of the discord centers around the functionality of snaps and the frequency of Snapchat use.
How does Snapchat affect different types of relationships?
The type of person to whom a snap is sent tends to be a person with whom the sender is in some type of close relationship. A young adult is less likely to snap a random individual. This conclusion stems from the functionality of Snapchat. Snapchat is often compared to text messages (Yang et al., 2014). The advantage that snaps have over text messages is the inclusion of context within the content. A short text message may be easily misinterpreted, but a snap that contains a picture allows for the presence of nonverbal cues, which facilitates communication within friendships, romantic relationships, and familial relationships. The ease of communication is especially important for long-distance relationships. One study by Veterlaus, Barnett, Roche, and Young (2016) explores young adults' behavior on Snapchat and its effects on interpersonal relationships. One individual believes that Snapchat helps her keep in touch with family while she is away at college. Emily (21) stated, “I think it's kind of good that my parents have Snapchat because then [my mom] will send me like these goofy ones sometimes. It kind of makes you laugh a little bit and it's good that you still see [your parents] when their far away” (Vaterlaus et al., 2016, p. 6). Snapchat is more often used to deepen existing connections, rather than to create new ones. Complications arise when romantic partners experience jealousy when “too many” snaps are sent by their partner to a romantic competitor. Mariana (21) disclosed, “I have a friend and on her boyfriend's phone she found out that he was cheating on her because of snapchats. Because she kept seeing this girl's name pop up and she went through his messages and he was talking to her about inappropriate pictures…” (Vaterlaus et al., 2016, p. 5).
Importance of Researching Snapchat
Social media platforms that have gained a large number of users, such as Facebook, have gained the most recognition among researchers. The study of social media needs to include more recent forms, such as Snapchat, in order to help researchers understand the true impact that this technology has on society and relationships. The use of Snapchat is growing at a much faster rate than researchers are studying its effects. For example, 17% of people are now using Snapchat, with 41% of them being young adults (Duggan, 2015). Snapchat comes with both positive and negative effects. Few social media platforms promote both relationship maintenance and jealousy to such a degree, which makes Snapchat a unique platform and a viable contender for further study.
Duggan, M. (2015). Mobile messaging and social media 2015. The Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/mobilemessaging-and-social media-2015-main-findings/.
Roesner, F., Gill, B. T., & Kohno, T. (2014, March). Sex, lies, or kittens? Investigating the use of Snapchat's self-destructing messages. Paper presented at the 18th annual Financial Cryptography Conference, Barbados.
Utz, S., Muscanell, N., & Cameran, K. (2015). Snapchat elicits more jealousy than Facebook: a comparison of Snapchat and Facebook use. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(3), 141-146.
Vaterlaus, J. M., & Tulane, S. (2015). Digital generation differences in parent-adolescent relationships. In C. J. Bruess (Ed.), Family communication in the digital age (pp. 426-446). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
Veterlaus, J. M., Barnett, K., Roche, C., & Young, J. A. (2016) “Snapchat is more personal”: An exploratory study on Snapchat behaviors and young adult interpersonal relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, 594-601.
Yang, C. C., Brown, B. B., & Braun, M. T. (2014). From Facebook to cell calls: layers of electronic intimacy in college students' interpersonal relationships. New Media & Society, 16, 5-23.
Written by Makeela Wells
“I won’t show anyone.” These words are usually the next message one would send to encourage another to send inappropriate or sexually suggestive photos. Sexting has gained substantial public and media attention; however, scientific research on sexting behavior has been limited. The purpose of this blog is to understand sexting behaviors among adolescents. The blog will define what behaviors constitute sexting and will examine the consequences of sexting. Lastly, the blog will provide resources for those who have been victimized by sexting.
As society has experienced advances in communication technology, text messaging has become the most popular form of electronic communication among adolescents. A consequence of this easy and exciting form of communication is sexting. Sexting can be defined as behaviors whereby one person sends and/or receives sexually explicit text or photo messages via cellphones (Judge, 2012; Rice, Gibbs, Winetrobe, Rhoades, Plant, Montoya, & Kordic, 2014). Sexting behavior can be voluntary, coercive, and involuntary. Voluntary sexting behavior occurs when one sends sexually explicit messages without being pressured to do so, while coercive sexting behavior takes place through pressure or duress (Judge, 2012). An example of sexting coercion would be an adolescent being persuaded to send sexually suggestive photos to please a significant other or maintain a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sexting can also be involuntary, whereby sexually suggestive photos are taken without the consent or knowledge of the individual (Pelayo, 2016). The rates of sexting, both receiving and sending sexts, vary, with high school students being more likely to send sexts than middle school students (Rice et al., 2014). The reasons why one engages in sexting may vary. Some individuals view sexting as a way of flirting with significant others. Some may engage in sexting as a way to impress someone he or she may be interested in dating. Individuals may also engage in sexting without their knowledge, due to the fact that they may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Judge, 2012).
Consequences of Sexting
The consequences of sexting can range from minor to severe. Social consequences of sexting among adolescents include social isolation from peers. When one’s peers know that he or she has engaged in such behavior, they may resort to ridicule as a way to punish one for his or her behavior (Judge, 2012). Legal consequences may also emerge as a result of sexting. Many adolescents do not know and/or do not understand state laws relating to adolescent sexting (Judge, 2012). Sending and receiving sexually explicit images of a minor can be considered child pornography, regardless of if the perpetrator is an adult or a minor. Additionally, consequences of sexting include depression, absence from school, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and, in severe cases, suicide (Judge, 2012).
Sexting has been linked to adolescents engaging in early sexual behavior. A study conducted by Rice and colleagues (2014) found that 20% of Californian middle school students had received a sext, while 5% had sent a sext. Students who texted roughly 100 times a day were more likely to receive and send sexts. They also found that those who sent a sext were approximately 3 times more likely to be sexually active, and those who received sexts were 7 times more likely to engage in sexual activity (Rice et al., 2014). Early sexual behavior has been linked to both higher rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
In conclusion, it is important for both adolescents and parents to understand what behavior constitutes sexting and the consequences associated with such behavior. Sexting is behavior described as sending explicit images and messages to others. It can be either voluntary, coercive, or involuntary and has been found to have negative impacts on the lives of adolescents. Educating individuals on sexting has the potential to decrease sexting behavior among adolescents.
The following is a link for an article published by The Washington Post, detailing a teen’s experience with sexting: “And everyone saw it” by Jessica Contrera.
For more information, see State Sexting Laws and Tips for Dealing with Teen Sexting.
Judge, A.M. (2012). “Sexting” among U.S. adolescents: Psychological and Legal Perspectives. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20(2), 86-96.
Pelayo, A. (2016). Sexting: what it is, who it affects, and how it affects them. High School Insider, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://highschool.latimes.com/st-genevieve-high-school/sexting-what-it-is-who-it-affects-and-how-it-affects-them/.
Rice, E., Gibbs, J., Winetrobe, H., Rhoades, H., Plant, A., Montoya, J., & Kordic, T. (2014). Sexting and sexual behavior among middle school students. Pediatrics, 134(1), 21-28.
Written by Calyssa Middleton
Quick Overview of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder with patterns of behavior and cognition that are maladaptive. These patterns are known to have an impact on the ability to form healthy interpersonal relationships. All of the symptoms of BPD listed by the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5) can be found at this link.
How does BPD affect relationships?
In one study, participants wrote in a diary every day for 14 days and discussed experiences in their romantic relationships. These entries were intended to test the hypothesis that individuals with BPD perceive relationship experiences more negatively than individuals without BPD. The results indicated that BPD features - even when controlling for relationship satisfaction, total number of relationship experiences, and depressive symptoms - were correlated with a more negative view of all interactions within the relationship (Bhatia, Davila, Eubanks-Carter, & Burckell, 2013). Even when the individual’s partner did positive things in the relationship, individuals with BPD viewed these actions negatively. For example, their partner saying “I love you” was often perceived as negative, rather than positive, by individuals with BPD because they distrust their partner’s love.
Another study focusing on relationship dysfunction in those with BPD found that attachment was specifically related to romantic dysfunction (Hill, 2011). Insecure attachment styles, such as ambivalent attachment, were the largest predictors of relationship dysfunction for those with BPD. Ambivalent refers to having mixed feelings and contradictory ideas; those with this attachment style tend to crave intimacy and close relationships but push others away due to a lack of trust. Individuals with insecure attachment styles are already known to experience more difficulty in their relationships; thus, those with an insecure attachment style and BPD symptoms have the most difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.
How can one cope with BPD and its effect on relationships?
There are a few known treatments for BPD, with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) being one of the most common. This therapy focuses on helping the individual learn to manage emotions. This management leads to benefits in many areas, including less anger and improved social functioning (Barnicot, Gonzalez, McCabe, & Priebe, 2016). Another important factor that DBT addresses is the tendency to self-harm. One study on the treatment processes of BPD indicated that more frequent use of DBT skills is associated with less frequent self-harm and a lower likelihood of dropping out of treatment (Barnicot, Gonzalez, McCabe, & Priebe, 2016). In this study, a significant amount of participants completed the entire treatment process and greatly reduced their suicidal behavior.
'Research has shown that it is more beneficial for those with BPD to receive treatment individually before being treated with their partner (Barnicot, Gonzalez, McCabe, & Priebe, 2016). However, couples' therapy can be beneficial. The processes of couples therapy vary depending on the therapist, but this type of therapy has consistently been shown to be important in aiding couples' ability to learn techniques that can prevent the escalation of arguments or negative emotions (Oliver, Perry, & Cade, 2008). Oliver and colleagues (2008) found that proper use of these techniques has a high success rate in those with BPD. These findings support the idea that therapy can help those with BPD function more normally within their relationships with others and lead these relationships to be more stable and rewarding.
Ultimately, it is important to understand that individuals who have BPD and similar disorders are not in control of their negative thoughts. However, with the correct treatment, it is possible for them to gain more control of their thoughts and behaviors and improve their relationships.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Barnicot, K., Gonzalez, R., McCabe, R., & Priebe, S. (2016). Skills use and common treatment processes in dialectical behaviour therapy for borderline personality disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 52, 147-156. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.04.006
Bhatia, V., Davila, J., Eubanks-Carter, C., & Burckell, L. A. (2013). Appraisals of daily romantic relationship experiences in individuals with borderline personality disorder features. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(3), 518-524. doi:10.1037/a0032870
Hill, J., Stepp, S. D., Wan, M. W., Hope, H., Morse, J. Q., Steele, M., & ... Pilkonis, P. A. (2011). Attachment, borderline personality, and romantic relationship dysfunction. Journal Of Personality Disorders, 25(6), 789-805. doi:10.1521/pedi.2011.25.6.789
Oliver, M., Perry, S., & Cade, R. (2008). Couples therapy with borderline personality disordered individuals. The Family Journal, 16(1), 67-72. doi:10.1177/1066480707309122
Written by Suzanne C. Amadi
The presence of interracial romantic relationships is becoming more salient than in previous years, with 1 in 10 heterosexual marriages in the United States consisting of partners of a different racial background (Jayson, 2012). Although this increase has become apparent within the general population, there are certain factors affecting one’s willingness to date someone of a different race that have only recently been examined. These relationship constructs, including one’s similarity to and familiarity with individuals of a different race, have begun to spark the interest of relationship researchers. Additionally, the role of beliefs and ideologies about race has recently been shown to be associated with romantic attraction to partners both within and outside of one’s race (Brooks & Neville, 2016).
Interracial Attraction based on Similarity and Familiarity
One’s perception of and experiences with individuals of the same or a different race has an impact on dating and attraction. Researchers found that similarity in racial grouping significantly influences attraction (Tenney, Turkheimer, & Oltmanns, 2009). Additionally, the idea of proximity also influences attraction, as individuals who are physically close to one another may develop increased attraction and be more likely to enter a potential romantic relationship (Miller, Perlman, & Brehm, 2007). Regarding interracial dating, researchers, including Yancey (2002) and Clark-Ibanez and Felmlee (2004), found that individuals who have consistent contact or increases in networking with people of different races or ethnicities were more likely to date interracially.
Interracial Attraction based on Racial Ideologies
Interracial Attraction based on Racial Ideologies, Similarity, and Familiarity
The researchers also surveyed the men on their beliefs about race by measuring the participants’ levels of endorsement of a color-blind ideology and a multicultural ideology. The researchers found that white men who endorsed a color-blind ideology had lower ratings of romantic attraction towards women of a different race, while black men's endorsement of a color-blind ideology did not impact their attraction to women of different races. However, both black and white men who endorsed multiculturalism had increased romantic attraction to women of a different race. Additionally, for black men, greater interracial contact was associated with increased intra-racial attraction.
Why Is the Connection between Racial Beliefs and Interracial Dating Important?
When it comes to dating and attraction, contrary to popular belief, race does still matter. Race matters due to the racial beliefs and ideologies that people hold. These findings regarding racial beliefs suggest that it takes more than just believing that race is an unimportant factor in society or the absence of prejudice to foster romantic attraction toward others of a different race (Brooks & Neville, 2016). However, individuals who recognize and positively evaluate the racial and ethnic differences of others tend to accept the idea of interracial dating, as this fosters connectedness with another, regardless of race.
Brooks, J. E., & Neville, H. A. (2016). Interracial attraction among college men: The influence of ideologies, familiarity, and similarity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1-18. doi: 10.1177/0265407515627508
Clark‐Ibáñez, M., & Felmlee, D. (2004). Interethnic relationships: The role of social network diversity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(2), 293-305.
Eastwick, P. W., Richeson, J. A., Son, D., & Finkel, E. J. (2009). Is love colorblind? Political orientation and interracial romantic desire. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1258-1268.
George, D., & Yancey, G. (2004). Taking stock of America's attitudes on cultural diversity: An analysis of public deliberation on multiculturalism, assimilation and intermarriage. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35, 1-19.
Jayson, S. (2012, April 26). Census shows big jump in interracial couples. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com.
Miller, R.S., Perlman, D., & Brehm, S.S. (2007). Intimate relationships. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Tenney, E. R., Turkheimer, E., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2009). Being liked is more than having a good personality: The role of matching. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 579-585.
Yancey, G. (2002). Who interracially dates: An examination of the characteristics of those who have interracially dated. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 33, 179-190.
Written by Haley Adams
What is ghosting?
Why would someone ghost?
This manner of ending a relationship and the repercussions that ghosting has on both individuals who are involved are not simple, though. Important to note, ghosting is not used to describe individuals who seek to end an unsafe or abusive relationship by disappearing in order to find safety. The motivation in this case is both emotional and physical safety; whereas, the motivation for ghosting is avoidance (Borguets, 2016).
How do people react to ghosting?
Often, between bouts of insecurity, the victim of the ghosting situation views the ghost as the bad guy and as a coward. These conflicting emotions of anger and insecurity tend to build up and result in extreme behavior that often results in a confrontation with the ghost. Therefore, the very situation that the ghost was trying to avoid occurs tenfold when the victim tracks the ghost down and causes a scene, often in front of an audience that consists of family, friends, or coworkers (Borguets, 2016).
Breakups are difficult to handle, regardless of how they are implemented. However, ghosting is not the appropriate method to use when ending a relationship of any kind. Ghosting is viewed as cowardly and stems from avoidance. This avoidance tactic rarely works because the victim is left with conflicting negative emotions and a surplus of insecurity that often leads them to publicly confront the ghost. Therefore, ghosting should be avoided when ending relationships, and more gentle approaches should be considered.
Borguets, M. (2016). The Psychology of Ghosting: Why People Do It and a Better Way to Break Up. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lantern/the-psychology-of-ghostin_b_7999858.html.
Harasymchuk, C. (2014). Ghosting: The 51st Way to Leave Your Lover? Science of Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2015/10/6/ghosting-the-51st-way-to-leave-your-lover.html.
Written by Chelsea Ellithorpe
Why Do Certain Breakups Hurt More?
Attachment style also affects how people respond to breakups. Those with a secure attachment style often ask family and friends for support as they cope with a breakup (Davis, Shaver, & Vernon, 2003). They believe that their social network of family and friends is able to help them during such a time of need and were better able to cope with and adjust after a breakup when they believed their social network, apart from that romantic relationship, was strong (Moller, Fouladi, McCarthy, & Hatch, 2003). Those who are more anxiously-attached and clingy tend to feel more pain after a breakup than others (Sprecher et al., 1998). Anxiously-attached individuals often feel a wide variety of negative emotions after a breakup, including depression, anger, and pain, and often blame themselves for the breakup and may try to rekindle the relationship or obsessively think about the breakup and their ex (Davis, Shaver, & Vernon, 2003). However, those with avoidant attachment often react by isolating themselves and avoiding social connections.
How Can One Move Past a Breakup?
Wegner (2011) suggests a variety of techniques that may help one to forget about a bad breakup and an ex. Distractions of more positive activities and thoughts may help one to shift their thoughts from the painful experience to things that help one cope with the event. Avoiding stressful situations and an ex may allow a person to better suppress unwanted thoughts about the breakup. Temporarily avoiding thinking about an ex and the breakup is much more manageable and likely to succeed than permanently pushing an ex out of one’s mind. Therefore, avoiding seeing an ex or their social media posts for a few days rather than blocking them in general is more likely to help with coping. Finally, learning how to handle these painful thoughts, accepting their presence, and training yourself to eliminate the negative association and affective response are much more effective solutions.
Davis, D., Shaver, P. R., & Vernon, M. L. (2003). Physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to breaking up: The roles of gender, age, emotional involvement, and attachment style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(7), 871-884.
Moller, N. P., Fouladi, R. T., McCarthy, C. J., & Hatch, K. D. (2003). Relationship of attachment and social support to college students’ adjustment following a relationship breakup. Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(3), 354-369.
Poirier, M., Nairne, J. S., Morin, C., Zimmermann, F. G. S., Koutmeridou, K., & Fowler, J.(2012). Memory as discrimination: A challenge to the encoding–retrieval match principle. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(1), 16-29.
Sprecher, S., Felmlee, D., Metts, S., Fehr, B., & Vanni, D. (1998). Factors associated with distress following the breakup of a close relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(6), 791-809.
Wegner, D.M. (2011). Setting free the bears: Escape from thought suppression. American Psychologist, 66(8), 671-680.
Written by Taylor Ritchey
Do these rebound and revenge motives for sex actually help people feel better about their break ups?
A study conducted by social psychologists Lindsay L. Barber and M. Lynne Cooper at the University of Missouri included 170 undergraduate students whose romantic relationships had ended four months prior to participating in the study. The students were asked to complete an initial survey that asked questions about who ended the romantic relationship, themselves or their partner (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The students also completed weekly surveys that asked questions about their distress levels, self-esteem, sexual behavior, and reasons for engaging in sexual activity (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The researchers coded the students’ motives for engaging in sexual activity as ‘rebound’ (to make themselves feel better) or ‘revenge’ (to get back at their ex).
Regarding the 170 students who participated in the study, 35% reported having rebound sex, and 23% reported having revenge sex within the first month following their break up (Barber & Cooper, 2014). The occurrence of rebound or revenge sex was highest immediately following the termination of the relationship and diminished over time (Barber & Cooper, 2014). People were more likely to engage in sexual activity or “hook-up” with new sexual partners in the days following the break up, rather than months later. “Findings generally supported widely held beliefs about the effects of being left by one’s partner, indicating that those who were ‘‘dumped’ ’were more distressed, angrier, and more likely to use sex as a way to deal with the loss” (Barber & Cooper, 2014, p. 262).
Do these motives for sex actually help us?
Therefore, having sex with new partners can boost your self-esteem and re-establish the confidence that is lost after a break up. However, people who have sex for these reasons are more likely to continue having sex with new partners, which suggests that they may be slower to recover from the break up (Barber & Cooper, 2014). In sum, while rebound or revenge sex may be fun, these types of sex do not seem to help or hurt us in the process of recovery. With this knowledge, you could go ahead and swipe right on that cute guy’s picture or buy that girl a drink at the bar, but keep in mind that although rebound or revenge sex may take your mind off of the break up, only time and possibly ice cream can help to heal the blues of a break up.
Barber, L. L., & Cooper, M. L. (2014). Rebound sex: Sexual motives and behaviors following a relationship breakup. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 251-265.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor