The 5 ‘Laws’ You Should Abide By if You Want a Healthy Relationship

When it comes to creating healthy relationship, there are lots of options you can choose from in order to make your love last. [. . .]
— Read on

man ignoring woman

When One Relationship Partner Is More Interested

The principle of least interest and what it means for your relationship.

Recently I encountered a relationship situation that brought to mind the principle of least interest and what it telegraphs about relationships where one partner is far more interested than the other. It’s an old theory, originating in 1938 with a sociologist named Waller. He noted that when one relationship partner is more emotionally invested in the relationship than the other, the less involved partner has more power in the relationship.

Of course, sometimes a relationship starts with one partner being more interested in the relationship than the other (at the beginning, partners often move at different paces in their emotional involvement with one another). More problematic is that situation where one person is really not all that interested in a romantic relationship with the other (or has lost interest), and deep down knows this is unlikely to change. This person is the least interested (LI), and they have the power to define the relationship on their terms.

The LI sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, exploits the most interested (MI), who accepts higher relationship costs to keep the LI from walking away. For example, I once knew an MI person who desired a monogamous relationship. As a condition of staying, their LI partner required they accept a polyamorous relationship. Mongeau and his colleagues (2013) found that in many cases, “friends with benefits” relationships often involved an MI partner who accepted the arrangement in the hopes it would become more serious.

The imbalanced MI/LI relationship can last for a while. The LI often doesn’t want to give up the many benefits delivered by the MI. The LI rationalizes by emphasizing that they’ve been honest with the MI, and the MI has chosen to accept their relationship terms. Sometimes the LI is truly ambivalent and doesn’t want to cut the MI loose in case they change their mind.

Because the LI stays, and there are occasional hints of romance, the MI remains hopeful. They give, sacrifice, and compromise themselves. But this is also the MI’s power: Their willingness to take what they can get, when they can get it, and their generosity towards the LI make it harder for the LI to cut them loose.

Waller (1938) argued that in the long run, relationships like these are usually unhealthy. I agree. The MI eventually feels resentful about being taken for granted and taken advantage of and hurt that they have to sacrifice and compromise themselves to keep the LI.

The LI may feel angry or resentful about being manipulated into staying. They may feel guilty about receiving more relationship benefits than the MI, and about how their lessened interest hurts the MI. Sprecher and her colleagues (2006) found partners in these unequal relationships were less satisfied than couples where both partners were equally invested, and that MI/LI relationships were more likely to end.

I’ve been on both sides of this dynamic, and I suppose if I were to offer some tough advice, it might be that if you’re the LI, and your lack of interest or ambivalence persists, the right thing to do is to end the relationship so that the most interested can recover and go on to find a more satisfactory relationship. Yes, you can rationalize that it’s the MI’s choice to accept the relationship as you define it. But at some level, you probably recognize that perhaps you’re taking advantage because you like the adoration, the “treats,” and having a relationship in your back pocket in case you decide you want it later.

If you’re the MI, you should recognize that your dignity and self-respect are high prices to pay to get the LI to be in a relationship with you; that’s not what healthy relationships are made of. Holding on also keeps you from finding a healthier relationship, where you don’t have to compromise yourself.

You might also think about whether it’s unfair of you to make it so hard for the LI to leave and whether you’re manipulating them to get them to stay. When it’s increasingly obvious that the odds of it turning into what you want it to be aren’t in your favor, it’s really best to cut your losses and move on.

Then, of course, there’s always therapy. If you seem to have a pattern of being the MI in your relationships, you may need to explore why you end up in relationships with reluctant or unavailable partners and are prone to this type of imbalanced relationship.


Mongeau, P. A., Knight, K., Williams, J., Eden, J., & Shaw, C. (2013). Identifying and explicating variation among friends with benefits relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 37-47.

Sprecher, S., Schmeeckle, M., & Felmlee, D. (2006). The principle of least interest: Inequality in emotional involvement in romantic relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 1255-1280.

Waller, W. (1938). The family: A dynamic interpretation. New York: Gordon.

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man and woman romantic

The Psychology of Romantic Love

Most everyone wants to fall in love, especially codependents. To us, love is perhaps the highest ideal, and relationships give our lives meaning and purpose. They enliven and motivate us. A partner provides a companion when we have difficulty initiating action on our own. Being loved also validates our sense of self-esteem, overcomes shame-based doubts about our lovability, and soothes our fears of loneliness. But too often a beautiful romance turns sour. What was a wonderful dream becomes a painful nightmare. Ms. Perfect or Mr. Right becomes Ms. or Mr. Wrong. The unconscious is a mighty force. Reason doesn’t seem to stop us from falling in love, nor make it any easier to leave! Even when the relationship turns out to be toxic, once attached, ending the relationship is as hard as falling in love was easy!

The Chemistry of Romance and Falling in Love

Our brains are wired to fall in love—to feel the bliss and euphoria of romance, to enjoy pleasure, and to bond and procreate. Feel-good neurochemicals flood the brain at each stage of lust, attraction, and attachment.  Particularly dopamine provides natural high and ecstatic feelings that can be as addictive as cocaine. Deeper feelings are assisted by oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” released during orgasm. It’s directly linked to bonding and increases trust and loyalty in romantic attachments.

The Psychology of Romantic Love—Whom We Find Attractive

Psychology plays a role, too. Our self-esteem, mental and emotional health, life experiences, and family relations all influence whom we’re attracted to. Experiences, both positive and negative, impact our choices and make someone appear more or less attractive. For example, we might find commonality attractive, but avoid someone who cheated on an ex if that has happened to us before. We’re attracted to subtle physical attributes, albeit unconsciously, that remind us of a family member. More mysterious, we can be attracted to someone who shares emotional and behavioral patterns with a member of our family even before they become apparent.

The Ideal Stage of Romance

It’s true that we’re blinded by love. Healthy idealization is normal and helps us fall in love. We admire our beloved, are willing to explore our partner’s interests, and accept his or her idiosyncrasies. Love also brings out parts of our personality that were dormant. We might feel manlier or more womanly, more empathic, generous, hopeful, and more willing to take risks and try new things. In this way, we feel more alive, because we have access to other aspects of our ordinary or constricted personality. Additionally, in early dating, we’re usually more honest than down the road when we become invested in the relationship and fear speaking our truth might precipitate a breakup.

Although, healthy idealization doesn’t blind us to serious warning signs of problems, if we’re depressed or have low self-esteem, we’re more likely to idealize a prospective partner and overlook signs of trouble, such as unreliability or addiction, or accept behavior that is disrespectful or abusive. The neurochemicals of romance can lift our depressed mood and fuel codependency and love addiction when we seek a relationship in order to put an end to our loneliness or emptiness. When we lack a support system or are unhappy, we might rush into a relationship and become attached quickly before really knowing our partner.  This is also referred to as “love on the rebound” or a “transitional relationship” following a breakup or divorce. It’s far better to first recover from a breakup.

The Ordeal Stage of Romantic Love

After the initial ideal stage, usually starting after six months, we enter the ordeal stage as we learn more things about our partner that displease us. We discover habits and flaws we dislike and attitudes we believe to be ignorant or distasteful. In fact, some of the same traits that attracted us now annoy us. We liked that our mate was warm and friendly, but now feel ignored at social gatherings. We admired his bold and decisive, but learn he’s rude and close-minded. We were enchanted by her carefree spirit, but are now appalled by her unrealistic spending. We were captivated by his unfettered expressions of love and a promised future, but discover he’s loose with the truth.

Additionally, as the high wears off, we start to revert to our ordinary personality, and so has our partner. We don’t feel as expansive, loving, and unselfish. In the beginning, we may have gone out of our way to accommodate him or her, now we complain that our needs aren’t being met. We’ve changed, and we don’t feel as wonderful, but we want those blissful feelings back.

Two things happen next that can damage relationships. First, now that we’re attached and fear losing or upsetting our partner, we hold back feelings, wants, and needs. This puts up walls to intimacy, the secret sauce that keeps love alive. In its place we withdraw and breed resentments. Our feelings can come out sideways with sarcasm or passive-aggression. As romance and idealization fade, the second fatal mistake is to complain and try to turn our partner into who we first idealized him or her to be.  We feel cheated and disillusioned that our partner is now behaving differently than in the beginning of the relationship. He or she, too, is reverting to their ordinary personality that may include less effort made to win you and accommodate your needs. Our partner will feel controlled and resentful and may pull away.

In some cases, we might discover serious problems—that our partner has an addiction, mental illness, or his abusive or dishonest. These are issues that require a serious commitment to change and often years of therapy to overcome. Many codependents, who get quickly involved for the reasons stated above, will sacrifice their own happiness and continue in a relationship for years trying to change, help, and fix their partner. The dysfunctional family dynamics of their childhood often get repeated in their marriages and relationships. They may unconsciously be contributing to the problem, because they’re reacting to an abusive or controlling parent. Change requires healing our past and overcoming shame and low self-esteem to feel entitled to love and appreciation.

Getting to the Real Deal

We might not want to continue a relationship that involves addiction or abuse or has other serious problems. Lacking major obstacles, getting past the ordeal to the real deal requires self-esteem, courage, acceptance, and assertiveness skills. It necessitates the ability to honestly speak up about our needs and wants, to share feelings, compromise, and resolve conflict. Rather than try to change our partner, our efforts are better placed on learning to accept him or her. (This doesn’t mean accepting abuse.) This is the struggle for intimacy, and requires a commitment by both partners to get through the ordeal stage with mutual respect and a desire to make the relationship work.

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Man and woman in love

To Love and to Be Loved—This Is the Psychology of Love

Whether we are aware of it or not, love is all around us. If only we could realize it. There are many people who love us. Think of your family, friends, and the partners who cherish us. But the biggest question to ask ourselves is what love is.

Different people interpret it in a variety of ways. Some take it to be the emotional feeling they share with their partners (for those who are in a relationship or marriage). For others, it is that care that they receive from their parents, siblings, and other people who are close to them. But all of this brings us to one conclusion: love is everywhere, even if some people are oblivious of it.

However, the psychology of love looks at things in a deeper way. It can be said that different types of love do exist and all affect people in many ways. Do you know that love can change the way a person behaves? Yes, it can. This is one of the factors that we will look at in detail here in a bit.

Types of Love to Know

Before we delve into details of how love changes people, let us look at the types of love that everyone should know.

  • Agape love – This is love with no conditions or boundaries. But who else can give such selfless love than one who is connected to you spiritually? That is why the Greeks thought of this as a love that is not given by people to people, but by a supernatural being to people.
  • Erotic love – This has a strong connection to the good of fertility. It is love that is related to procreation in human beings. Greeks believed that one could not control this love. Thus, when two people are in erotic love, they end up in marriage and have children as a result.
  • Affectionate love – This should not and never be confused with erotic love. Affectionate love, according to those who have dated online on websites like Happymatches, is love that you give to people who cannot be considered as your life partner. It is often short-term with some people today doing it on a contractual basis. It typically has mutual benefits.
  • Self-love – Everyone loves themselves. This is driven by the instinct that people will always treat themselves in a special way before anyone else can do so. It is pretty obvious that people love themselves.

There are many other types of love that exist and each one affects people in a different way. The part of the body that is mostly affected by this is the brain, so it is no wonder that love is more psychological. The brain triggers many other things in the body through chemical reactions to alter behavior, feelings, and even what people say.

Psychological Effects of Love

Love changes how people view others and other things. Let’s use an example of erotic love. When a person meets the perfect partner and falls in love, they will tend to push all of their other friends to the side. If there were other close people who also wanted to have a relationship with you, a distance will be created without even thinking about it. Even if some feelings were developing towards them, this will quickly fade away. It is even possible for love to change from one type to another during such a transition.

Some people get so influenced by those that they love or those who love them that they copy their behavior. This is common in married couples or those who are engaged in a long-term relationship. According to experts, love has a strong effect on how people think and behave, and this is evident in many social types of research that have been conducted in the past.

Loving and Being Loved

Because love has a strong influence on how we think, it is worth knowing the best way to love and even how to be loved. How we do it matters to others and also ourselves. It is the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction and between being happy and not being happy in life.

Before you start showing love, mostly for the sake of a relationship, you need to understand what type of love it is between erotic love and affectionate love, or in normal words, serious love and casual love. It is not fair to approach the other person with a pretense of showing them erotic love only to dump them later because all that you needed was affectionate love for a short time.


When everything is clear all from the beginning, both parties will be moving in one direction as far as their thinking is concerned. Psychologically, this is the best direction to take. Millennials should read these insights well and apply them to avoid confusion when loving and being loved. However, the information will remain helpful to anyone

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