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.