Psychological Self-Help

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Sternberg and Barnes (1988) illustrate some mis conceptions
common among persons looking for a mate: "We've lived together--so,
no problems," "Other couples have different religions, it won't be an
issue with us," "We both come from close families, so we'll get along
well," "He/she really enjoys sex, so it will be great," "I'll build his/her
self-esteem by always praising him/her," "If we love each other that's
all that matters," "I wish he/she loved me more, but that is the way
men/women are," "I'm sure he/she will stop
drinking/smoking/gambling/loafing/driving dangerously...after we are
married," etc., etc. The human capacity to deny and self-deceive is
truly amazing. Be on guard. 
We need to use our brain a lot more (without taking our heart or
genitals out of the loop); we need to know a lot more about love, the
different kinds of love, what kind of lovers we are, and many other
Exchange theory
Some theorists see the selection and staying with a partner as a
kind of trade-off or exchange based on (1) rewards received, (2)
sacrifices made, and (3) a belief that the benefits from this
relationship are better than each partner has been accustomed to or
could get from another partner (Huston & Cate, 1979). What are the
goods in this trade? Things like physical attractiveness, a nice
personality, wealth or a good income, social status (e.g. a cheerleader
or a "star" player), being fun to be with, a sexy build, a sense of
humor, and many other traits. In general, we display our good points
for which we try to get as much in return as possible. Thus, we may
try to get as good looking a partner as we can, based on our looks plus
our money, personality, or loyalty. It is common to see wealthy men
with beautiful women. It is a trade-off. No doubt this kind of
bargaining occurs at first, but if the love matures, one focuses more on
giving (and enjoying doing so) than on receiving. Also, people in good
relationships find things to do together that both enjoy, that reward
Being aware of the exchange theory may help you avoid some
pitfalls. First, you can realize that thinking in these terms may
encourage phoniness. You may try to impress someone but being
deceptive is likely, in the long run, to hurt the relationship and may
hurt your own self-esteem (Maier, p. 202, 1984). If the other person is
deceptive, you can be hurt. The classic example is when the male
professes to love the female as a means of getting sex. The woman
later realizes the truth and feels used. Second, as we just discussed,
some people, called romantics, are strongly dominated by a strong
love response, but there are others, called non-romantics, who are
not. Romantics go with their feelings; they don't even think of leaving
the person they love. Certain types of non-romantics may not feel
strong love; they may simply value economic, appearance, or social
factors more than love, so if a better looking or higher status person
comes along, they leave the relationship. Such "bargain-hunting" non-
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