Love Hurts Others

We all know that lost love and unrequited love hurts. But as a headline from Live Science points out, “Love Hurts (Other People)” too.

Florida State researchers surveyed 130 hetero students in long-term relationships on their levels of jealousy (e.g., “How likely are you to surprise-visit your partner to see who is with him/her?”).

They also asked them to think about a time when they 1) felt lots of love for their partner or 2) a time when they felt lots of lust. Next, the students underwent three ordeals.

First they looked at pictures of an attractive or unattractive same-sex peer and then rated the appeal of a Chinese character. When asked to think about intense sexual desire for their partner everyone rated the character about the same. But when asked to think about intense love for their partner those who tend toward jealousy became quite negative.

Next the students played a video game with an attractive, but hidden, same-sex player. Whoever won got to blast their opponent with a loud noise. When reminded of their love for their partners, the jealous types more harshly blasted their sexy “rivals.” (Fortunately, there was no real person to torment.) But the effect disappeared when these same folks were told to think about lust instead of love.

Finally, the researchers upped the ante, creating a seriously threatening situation.

Students were asked to help design a university dating site, and given profiles of “attractive, interesting, outgoing, fun-loving” people of their own sex who were single and looking. After being reminded of their deep love for their partners everyone responded harshly, labeling the rivals unattractive, unfriendly and heaping on abuse. Jon Maner, the lead researcher added, “The more love they felt for their partner, the more negatively they tended to evaluate these objectively attractive members of their own sex.”

He concludes that low- and high-jealousy people may not be so different after all. What matters is the level of threat.

Study researcher and grad student, Jennifer Leo opined,

Ultimately, love works in the service of protecting the relationship and maintaining it into the long term. Even if that means acting out.

Love makes the world go round. Too bad it can also harm innocent bystanders.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 29, 2012, in men, psychology, relationships, sex, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I always tend to think that the subject of love is a tough subject to really talk about, since people all have different ways of approaching love toward one another. I personally been hurt by the presence of love in my life, that I find it true that love hurts the person and also people around them too. It’s kind of like the feeling that when you noticed others around you who are sharing love or being with someone attractive and such matter, it causes one to act jealous and also different from the way they might not really noticed they could. Indeed, nobody likes to feel that they aren’t love by anyone, so they might just end up channeling their negative emotions toward others, which in return might harm them in a way. It’s not like people meant to do it, but it’s just they might be in that state of mind, where logic and reason might blind their thoughts and judgments. So people might just end up hiding it or expressing it out through other means, everyone has different ways of speaking out their own thoughts on the subject like love.

  2. This is a very interesting article that brings to question further the nature of jealousy. Prior to reading this article I would have thought that the jealousy demonstrated in the study would be more observable when “lust” was brought up as a reminder because that is the more “animal” instinct just like what I assumed jealousy to be. The media floods images of jealousy and lust when selling any number of products, from mens body spray to tennis shoes, so it is no wonder that people would assume lust and jealousy to be so interrelated. However, the particants became more observably jealous when reminded of the “love” not “lust” in their relationships. This is intriguing because it suggests that people’s threat level is proportional to the amount of effort that is put into the relationship. Lust is something that can be easily fallen into and out of whereas “love” is something that takes time, effort and ultimately a piece of one’s self in order to reach that point. When evaluating this from that perspective it doesn’t seem that the findings of this study are that outrageous because of course we humans are going to protect (use jealousy) as a means to hold onto what is ours.

  3. I agree, this is a very interesting topic because there is a big difference between love and lust. When a person is in “lust” with someone they don’t really care or have feelings for that person, especially if its a sexual lust, that feeling will eventually fade and love is long term. Love is an ongoing feeling and a deep feeling that a person may have. People are getting love and lust mixed up and confused and a lot of people feel the need to not believe in love or pretend that it doesn’t exist.

  4. First, I would never have considered that the feelings of both men and women would be about the same when it comes to maintaining a relationship. It is generally assumed that more men than women have a casual outlook on dating, but it seems that when feelings of love are mutual that the willingness to preserve the relationship will be as well. I agree with the previous comment that there is a big difference between love and lust, but don’t you need both to maintain a relationship? Most relationships are initiated based off the principles of lust, so how do you know whether or not love is just an extended version of that lust, manifested into more of a feeling of comfort in the fact that you believe it is “love”? Don’t those who react more negatively or become more jealous also feel uncomfortable with the fact that someone could jeopardize the person who they can exclusively lust for?

  5. I think this a very confusing topic. Sometimes we can confuse love and lust and end up expecting the wrong thing from the other person. In today’s society love is so much harder to find then lust. When lust is brought up people tend to care less about the other, but when we love someone we want to protect them and make them happy. But don’t we need lust in order to have love? We have to want somebody in order to love them right? Lust can turn into love. I think the two go together they are just confused constantly so it is hard to tell the difference.

  6. I think this is a very interesting topic. Its is hard to separate the word Love and lust. I think when we love someone, we will want to be with them, care about them and make them happy. There has so many different kind of love, you can love a friend the same way as a partner, but how to define? It is very difficult. Maybe you think that you love him/her but when two being in a longer time, things turn out different. Some people can turn lust into love but not everyone. So i think love is a very very difficult to define.

  7. Wu Cheuk Yin, Cherry

    In English, the meaning of the words Sex and Love are two different words; but we don’t know when people made an equivalence between “make love” and “sexual intercourse”, thus, “sex” is involved with these two words with different meanings. In the ensuing sex education in the era of sexual liberation, we almost didn’t see its contents related to sex education; all we heard about were how to avoid pregnancy and venereal disease, or how to achieve orgasm and sexual techniques, or asking women for sexual autonomy. Love is formed by humanity’s unique care, responsibility and self-respect to assist sex, not as simple as “sex for sex”, but “love”.

  8. Love is the eternal theme in human’s life, and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. To love and to be loved is the biggest happiness in life. We need to learn how to show love appropriately. Otherwise it will hurt ourselves and the people around us. Love is an essential link that connects each other, and we can build a relationship based on the love and trust of each other. And love can help us maintain the relationship and make the connection between each other becomes stronger and better. Love is powerful when we apply it in a right way. However, jealousy can bring destruction to the relationship, so we need to learn how to control our jealousy and reduce the negative effect to the minimum.

  9. I have to admit, I WAS one of those jealous girlfriends back in my early twenties. I moved in with my boyfriend, whom I was always told was a philanderer (by his family) after dating for a while and I would ALWAYS “run home quick” since he worked early morning/afternoon and I worked later in the day, either to say hello or pretend I forgot something and always expected to find someone else there. I think there is a fine love between love and lust. Lust blindsides you, but I guess so does love. I know many of you disagree about love and lust, but really it is only the people on the outside of the relationship that see “lust” not “love” or vice versa.

    Jealousy seems easier to control when you get older and are aware of your own actions. It really hit home I broke up with him (because I was always accusing him of cheating with no evidence) and I listened to his phone messages and his friend left a message saying “I just got a call from your crazy girlfriend, so yeah um call me back.” After that I realized jealousy and the actions surrounding those feelings really got me nowhere in life.

  10. When I was in middle school, my parents told me not to start a relationship before graduating form college, I asked them why, they said because I’m not ready for love. No one will listen to their parents on that, even I understand college students are not mature enough to handle love, but still, almost all of my friends post “in a relationship with someone” on Facebook. We all learn from love, sweet and bitter, if I had a chance to start my life again, I’d still choose to be with my stupid boyfriend in high school, and I’ll still choose to cry for three days straight, because I don’t regret, I don’t want to give up those experiences. However, I will tell my daughter not to trust any guys before graduating from college.

  11. Love needs to go through both happy and difficult times. And when something bad happens, it can be a long time to forget or forgive. Many people think love means you have to give everything to each other, especially sex for men. In real love, people don’t care as much about sex, a couple trusts each other and are willing to have sex, not pushing them. Many of my friends complain that during the time they were dating, guys were often only around in happy times, and they disappeared when the girl needed them. Alternatively, some others said that guys sometimes ran away after having sex with them. Of course, girls get hurt from these guy’s actions, but many guys think that is normal. Any relationship makes people get hurt if it’s not successful, no matter how short or long-term the relationship. The more you love, the worse you feel hurt and take years to move on.

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