Volume 1, Issue 1: September 2017

Quote of the Month

Timeless insights from scientists, philosophers, novelists and other wise souls

Ellen Berscheid

Ellen Berscheid

“Relationships with other humans are both the foundation and the theme of the human condition: We are born into relationships, we live our lives in relationships with others, and when we die, the effects of our relationships survive in the lives of the living, reverberating throughout the tissue of their relationships.”

Finkel's Five

Five things I'm thinking about this month


1. I have long argued that matchmaking algorithms are bunk, but those arguments were based on logic -- the principles forming the bedrock of the algorithms are flawed. But a forthcoming article with Samantha Joel and Paul Eastwick leverages machine learning techniques to provide a rigorous, data-driven test of whether matchmaking algorithms work. Alas, they do not. To learn more, read this Quartz article or Samantha's APS Observer article.

2. In certain respects, it's a shame that so much wisdom in the modern world is cloistered within the offices of the best therapists. Fortunately, the therapist Esther Perel opens the door to her office in a riveting podcast of real, raw therapy sessions with couples enduring sexual and relationship problems. To learn more, read this New Yorker profile.

3. The progress toward women's equality over the past 50 years has been staggering, including in the relationships domain. And yet, full equality remains elusive. In this CNN article, the family historian Stephanie Coontz offers a nuanced discussion of the nature of the progress, the nature of the continued obstacles, and the policies that could conquer those obstacles.

4. As consensual nonmonogamy has become an increasingly popular relationship arrangement, opinionated voices have been plentiful, but high-quality evidence has been scarce. This year, the University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley and her colleagues published the best study to date. The conclusion: The relationship quality of couples who adopt a monogamy norm is virtually identical to that of couples who adopt a consensual nonmonogamy norm. Such findings allow for many possible explanations, but they do provide an important proof of concept: Consensual nonmonogamy is a viable approach for some couples. People who pontificate at us that humans are "meant to be" monogamous or nonmonogamous are revealing more about their ideology than about their sober assessment of the evidence. For some couples, the best approach is monogamy; for others, it is consensual nonmonogamy.

5. A meta-analysis from the family scientist Christine Proulx and her colleagues reveals that having a fulfilling marriage has become much more important in recent decades. Indeed, the extent to which having a fulfilling marriage predicts overall happiness with one's life is almost twice as strong in the 21st century as it was in 1980. Unpacking the reasons for this massive change is a major goal of my new book.

Thibaut's Tidbits

A dispatch from the mascot of the Relationships And Motivation Lab (RAMLAB)

Thibaut, the RAMLAB mascot

Thibaut, the RAMLAB mascot

The biggest news from the RAMLAB this month is the publication of Eli's first book, The All-Or-Nothing Marriage, on the 19th. To support the book, we've been working with Logan Ury and White Animation to create a whiteboard-animation overview of some of its key ideas. Keep your eyes here -- or on Twitter or Facebook -- to see the finished product. We've also lined up an exciting book tour, including events with Amy Cuddy, Esther Perel, Dan Gilbert, Peter Sagal, Dan Savage, Heidi Stevens, Dan Pink, and Dan Ariely. Please join us for an event in your city!

All-or-Nothing Marriage Tour Card (3).png

Congratulations to Dylan Selterman ...

Dylan Selterman

Dylan Selterman

... for winning the drawing for a signed, pre-publication copy of the book!


Do you know other folks who are interested in learning about relationships? Please let them know about this newsletter. :)


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