Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
People think about breaking up more when they look outside their relationship for psychological fulfillment
Are your psychological needs being met?
As humans we all have psychological needs that we are driven to fulfill, be they companionship or safety, a sense of belonging or personal growth. And we often meet these needs through our relationships with others: They care for us, make us feel secure, and help us develop as individuals.
When we are in romantic relationships, our partners are commonly the main source for fulfilling those needs. But sometimes they are away, or are simply not equipped to meet our particular needs. In those cases we turn elsewhere, to friends, family, and others in our lives. This may benefit us personally — but how does it affect our relationship?
To find out, Laura Machia and Morgan Proulx at Syracuse University conducted a series of studies, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, looking at need fulfillment among American adults in relationships. The first study drew on data collected in the mid-1990s from almost 4,700 participants of the Midlife in the United States longitudinal study. Participants reported how many hours per month their partner, and others outside of their relationship, fulfilled one particular need: emotional support. They also completed a number of scales measuring the quality of their relationship and how often they'd thought that their relationship could be in trouble.
The researchers found that the more emotional support people received from outside their relationship, the more negatively they rated their relationship and the less stable they felt it was. And it wasn't simply that these participants were making up for a lack of fulfillment from within the relationship, the findings held even when the researchers took into account the extent of support provided by participants' partners.
Instead, the team wondered whether having one's needs met outside of a relationship made people more aware that there were other viable options to turn to than just a partner. In a subsequent study, they gave 413 university students questionnaires measuring the "perceived quality of alternatives," rating their agreement with statements like "My needs for intimacy, companionship, etc., could easily be fulfilled in an alternative relationship." Participants also completed scales measuring how often their partner, and other people, met their needs (for instance, self-improvement or companionship), as well as how often they thought about ending their relationship.
The team found that the more participants' needs were fulfilled within a relationship, the worse they perceived the option of going to other people to meet their needs. But the more they actually received fulfillment from those outside sources, the better they rated them — and the more they thought about ending their relationship.
It's an intuitive finding: When people go outside of their relationship to try and meet their needs, they learn there are other options out there and they don't have to rely just on their partner. That doesn't necessarily mean they are finding other romantic partners, the authors add. Rather, receiving fulfillment from outside their romantic relationship "allows an individual to feel that being single, spending time with friends, or finding a new romantic partner at some point is a more viable option for them, in that their need fulfillment would not suffer considerably, should they opt to take one of those paths."
For the most part, the study didn't distinguish between different kinds of psychological need, so it remains to be seen whether there are particular needs to which the results apply most strongly — perhaps those that are closely linked to romantic relationships, for instance, like security and intimacy. There may also be individual differences in how susceptible people are to the effects, something the authors say they will look at in future work.
- Imago theory explains why we choose a partner that fits with our past ›
- Why Very Smart People Are Happiest Alone - Big Think ›
A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.
In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>