Psychological Self-Help

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going off to war or during final exams, you are likely to be more
attracted to that person than if you had met in less exciting
circumstances. The excitement adds to the attraction. In the same
way, couples plan an exciting weekend or a special night out in order
to revitalize their love for each other. This works well. However, not all
excitement from external sources adds love to the relationship. College
males who read an erotic story became, as you would expect, more
affectionate with their girlfriends--we don't know if their love increased
(Dermer & Pyszczynski, 1978). In another study, college students,
male and female, lost some love for their partner after looking at
pictures of nudes (Gutierres, Kenrick & Goldberg, 1983). The next
paragraph may give some explanation of these seemingly
contradictory results. 
What happens when lovers must be separated for a short while?
Folklore tells us two things: "absence makes the heart grow fonder"
and "out of sight, out of mind." Which is right? Well both probably are,
depending on what you think about while you are separated. If you
dwell on what the lover is doing and how wonderful he/she is and how
much you miss him/her, your love will grow. If, on the other hand, you
are busy and do not think much about him/her or, worse yet, think
about another potential lover (or nudes in a magazine), your love is
likely to decline. This is not just in matters of love; Tesser (1978) has
a theory that as we think more and more about an issue, our opinion
about that issue will become more extreme. In the chapters on
depression and anger we saw the influence of repeated thoughts. Later
in this chapter we will see the negative influence of thinking critically
about our partner or our marriage. 
Is it true love?
Hunt (1975) suggests asking these revealing questions: (1) Do I
treat the other person as a person or a thing? If you go out with
him/her because he/she is good looking (a "prize" to be with) or a way
out (a ticket to the movies), that isn't love. (2) Would you choose to
spend the evening alone with him/her if there were no kissing, no
touching, and no sex? If not, it isn't love. (3) Are the two of you at
ease and as happy alone as you are with friends? If you need other
friends around to have a good time, it isn't love. (4) Do you get along?
If you fight and make up a lot, get hurt and jealous, tease and criticize
one another, better be careful, it may not be love. (5) Are you still
interested in dating or secretly "messing around" with others? If so,
you aren't in love. (6) Can you be totally honest and open? If either or
both of you are selfish, insincere, feel confined, or unable to express
feelings, be cautious. (7) Are you realistic? You should be able to
admit possible future problems. If others (besides a parent) offend you
by saying they are surprised you are still together, that you two seem
so different, that they have doubts about your choice, better take a
good look at this relationship. (8) Are either of you much more of a
taker than a giver? If so, no matter how well you like that situation
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