Essential Reads

Singles, You Can Lower Your Risk of Divorce

The things you can do before you marry that can change your odds of divorce

20 Tactics the Pros Use to Deal with Difficult People

Can you reason with unreasonable people?

Empathy for a Child Abuser?

Empathy for the Undeserving Can Be a Useful Strategy for Changing Families

Why We Hate It When People Invade Our Space

John Travolta and Joe Biden put it in the news, but it's an everyday problem.

Recent Posts on Relationships

What if there were community ceremonies to mark divorce?

Several weeks ago, I attended a divorce ‘ritual’ of sorts, and came away so moved by the experience that I decided to share it here on my PT blog: Family.Life.  

Stark's Ten Stations of Divorce

"Why do I still feel so wounded after all this time?" Mike stared down at his hands in his lap as he struggled to hold back the tears. "It's been three years! Why aren't I over it? Is there something wrong with me?" They'd long ago split up the property, dispensed with the legal divorce, won or lost communal friends, sorted out the bank accounts and credit card debt, but still, he thought about her every single day and ached. 

When Job Loss Strikes: How to Survive and Thrive

By Ann Smith on August 10, 2010 in Healthy Connections
What is rarely discussed or even acknowledged is the personal emotional toll for those of us who may define ourselves by our careers and positions. Even if the savings account and unemployment compensation holds out for a while, eventually the grief, self doubt and loss of identity take hold and for some can cause paralysis. 

U.S. Judge found that same-sex couples have an equal right to the responsibilities and benefits of marriage (Part 1)

Last week, a federal judge in California decided that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that banned same-sex unions. Over the next few blog entries I will be including some of the evidence that was presented at trial and discussing it in the context of social science research on couples and families.

How to Wreck Your Self Esteem: Compare Youself with Others

Typical scenarios- do you recognize yourself? A client called me today in despair. She's opened a small dress store and was at a networking meeting talking with a business associate, who is also in the retail industry. Her associate was happy about the upturn in her company's sales and my client began comparing her own fledgling shop's receipts with the sales of her associate's long standing national company. Result: A revived worry for my client that she is not good enough, successful enough, strong enough, capable enough, driven enough- and never will be. She overlooks her courage, self discipline, honesty, organizational skills, love of women, and aesthetic sense.

I Love My Boss: Office Romances

By David F. Swink on August 09, 2010 in Threat Management
Many people fall in love with their bosses and co-workers. So what do you do if this happens and both of you want to work at the same organization?

Friendship by the Book: An interview with Deirdre Madden

Deirdre Madden's most recent novel, Molly Fox's Birthday (Picador, 2010), is a beautifully written story that aptly conveys the complexity of a woman's emotional bonds with her family and friends. 

The LOVE Motivator

By Meg Selig on August 09, 2010 in Changepower
For better or for worse, the "love motivator" can help you change a habit.

How to Spend Your Way to Happiness

New research suggests that money can decrease your ability to savor the good things in life, and even increase your stress.  But other recent research suggests some, occasionally surprising, ways in which spending your dough can make you happy. 

Who Do You Love?

By Hank Davis on August 08, 2010 in Caveman Logic

Why Does Greater Freedom Increase the Need for Romantic Compromises?

 In what follows, I will argue in support of the following seemingly non-intuitive claims: (1)Compromises are mainly concerned with what one does not have and not with what one has; (2)Greater freedom increases the need for romantic compromises;(3)Modern lovers experience both greater frustration and greater love. All these claims make the life of modern lovers much more complex.

Why Validation Matters: Insights from 5 Just-Published Studies

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on August 08, 2010 in Living Single
When you tell someone about something good that happened to you, and they respond with enthusiasm, that makes your positive experience seem even better. The person who responds in a validating way benefits, too. The validating interaction is also good for the relationship between the two of you. If your good news is met with indifference or disparagement, though - well, that's something else entirely. 

Let's make this the "century of global compassion, the era of empathy" and get rid of negativity once and for all

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 07, 2010 in Animal Emotions
Let's make a commitment to work together for global compassion and empathy across cultures and species. There is no other way we and other animals will survive. Let's get rid of hypocrisy and negativity once and for all. 

The Ethics of Confidentiality: Love Letters as a Liability

By Nancy Kalish Ph.D. on August 06, 2010 in Sticky Bonds
The lost love research project, begun before the days of email, required people to write to a post office box to ask to volunteer, and many sent their love stories. What happens to this mail, to confidentiality, when the researcher has to move... without the letters?

Marriage Is Hard: Film Review—The Kids Are All Right

By Frank Pittman M.D. on August 06, 2010 in Reel Life
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is a new movie overflowing with wisdom and honesty. Marginalizing men into mere sperm donors does not completely detoxify them. A family can't be perfected, but when you are part of it, it can be understood and appreciated. Its OK if the family you grew up in did not approach normality. There is nothing wrong with a marriage like the one you grew up in. All families straight or gay, male or female, it's all more the same than otherwise.

The Healing View in the Distance

Have you ever thought how therapeutic it is to cast your eyes in the distance and to look far far away? I've always felt that one of the hallmarks of really being an adult is the ability to look beyond the suffering of the moment and know that the future is always there waiting for you - to look in the distance. My mom used to say it more simply--This too shall pass.

Misleading Claims about Marriage Slip into the Prop 8 Ruling

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on August 06, 2010 in Living Single
In the Prop 8 case, the judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. Did he also, unwittingly, make the case for ending marital privilege? 

Psychology and the Prop 8 Ruling

By Sam Sommers on August 05, 2010 in Science Of Small Talk
Last night I decided to stay up late and do a bit of bedtime reading. 136-pages of it, to be exact. Of course, I'm talking about yesterday's ruling by a U.S. District Court that California's ban on same-sex marriage–Proposition 8–is unconstitutional. OK, so maybe you wouldn't print off the pdf to bring to the beach, but for the most part, the decision is a pretty fascinating read. As you turn the pages, it becomes easy to forget you're reading a legal document and start thinking you're looking through a psychology course syllabus...


Lee Eisenberg's Shoptimism is a journey into the psychology of shopping from two sides of the cash register, the buy side and the sell side. It could easily be the upbeat textbook for Retail 101, exploring in its first half the buy side-why we consumers shop-and in its second half the sell side, how different retailers target different demographic groups.

The Importance Of Tone

Several weeks ago, I was editing together some video footage for a home movie and was surprised to discover how irritated, negative, and just plain mean I sounded when talking to my wife. I remember most of the interactions that were filmed but not any of the feelings I was quite clearly projecting.

Healthy Relationships Without Good Role Models

By Shawn T. Smith Psy.D. on August 05, 2010 in Ironshrink
How do you build a good relationship when your role models have been less than stellar? Here is a bit of advice from the school of hard knocks.

How to Handle A Facebook Frenemy

After years of friendship, my relationship with a colleague was damaged while both of us were enduring major losses in our lives. I think I managed to keep my issues out of the workplace, but hers caused her to be very angry...She recently sent me a friend request on Facebook and I accepted it, thinking that if I didn't, she would interpret that as a rejection and start attacking again. In hindsight, I wish I had ignored it because she then sent me a very nasty Facebook message.