8.3 Thinking Like a Social Psychologist About Liking and Loving

There is no part of human experience that is more important to our survival than our close relationships with others. Without close relationships, we could not successfully reproduce, and without the social support provided by others who care about us, our lives would be less meaningful and we would be less mentally and physically healthy. I hope this chapter has reminded you of the importance of your relationships with others or perhaps taught you to think differently about those relationships.

Perhaps you are already in a happy close relationship, and this chapter may have given you some ideas about how keep that relationship happy and healthy. Perhaps you are thinking more now about your commitment to the relationship, the benefits and costs you receive from the relationship, the equity between you and your partner, and the costs or benefits you and your partner gain from the relationship. Is your relationship a communal relationship or is it more of an exchange relationship? What can you do to help ensure that you and your partner remain together as one interrelated pair?

Or perhaps you are not currently in a relationship and are hoping to develop a new close relationship. In this case, this chapter may have provided you with some ideas about how to get someone to like you and to see you as an appropriate partner. Maybe you will think more about the important role of physical attractiveness in initial liking, the influence of similarity and reciprocal disclosure on liking, and the role of proximity in attraction. I hope that you have learned some new ideas about how to be more attractive to others that you are interested in.

In any case, I hope you can now see that even close relationships can be considered in terms of the basic principles of social psychology, the ABCs of affect, behavior, and cognition, and the goals of self-concern and other-concern. Close relationships are particularly interesting in terms of the latter because they are one of the ways that we can feel good about ourselves by connecting with others.

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