Relationships – Dates, Mates, Soulmates or Playmates?

Feb 14, 2022


Here are some psychological ideas you might like to reflect on as you go on a date, make a commitment to be together or decide that it’s a good day to acknowledge and affirm what you have together.

Attraction: Dates?

What attracts us to some people instantly in a way that is different to others?

That ‘Aha’ moment or a ‘first impression’ is fast and intuitive. Maybe unsurprisingly, first impressions are very influenced by physical appearance. Research seems to indicate that physical appearance is more important to men than women.

A person’s own belief in their attractiveness may also determine choice. The ‘matching hypothesis’ states that people are drawn to others who have some resemblance to them.

However, sometimes a person whose belief in themselves is negative may make choices that reflect this negativity.

Physical attraction in the early stages of meeting someone may soon be replaced or deepened by other forms of attraction, primarily similarities, such as for example, shared social/cultural experiences, education, interests, attitudes.

Connection: Mates?

Psychological observation and theories indicate that deeper connections in relationships are formed by the amount and depth of engagement and disclosure couples enter into. Whilst for some this might be the frequency or duration of engagement, for most it’s an emotional connection, spoken or sensed that permits a deeper sense of intimacy.

Low self-esteem, poor mental health or bad experiences in relationships can affect connections. Taking steps to address these can be extremely beneficial in bringing positive change.

Compassion: Soulmates?

This type of love will involve passion and intimacy but also commitment. Couples who experience this form of connection are able to form lasting attachments by engaging emotionally, without fear and with reciprocity, being honest, being prepared to adapt to challenges and change and permit trust.

Cost-benefit: Playmates

The benefits, real or perceived, of being with someone can forge connections. These benefits may include sex, gifts, fun, avoiding loneliness, social acceptance, convenience, companionship, financial stability, biological clock. The challenge in such relationships is to balance benefit against cost. If the benefit fades, given this is the connector, the relationship is less likely to last.

On Valentine’s Day celebrate the person you have in your life and be honest about whether you want to have fun, fall in love or stay in love. Staying in love needs honesty, talking and listening, care of yourself in order you can care for the person in your life, time to be with each other, acknowledging shared values and beliefs, keeping intimacy and sexual contact alive, learning to adapt to both ups and downs and being open to commitment through change.