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10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Romantic Relationships

As we get older, romantic relationships are something that we may gravitate towards naturally. Children may start to have crushes on one another and begin to explore what that means. We start to desire someone and sometimes are given the opportunity to include them in our lives – to share meals, adventures, a home, friends, family members, sexual experiences, and more. But how do crushes turn into relationships at a young age? How do we decide if we want a life partner? What makes someone have the potential to be our partner? Why do we even want romantic relationships? And perhaps the entire reason behind this article: what is the psychology behind romantic relationships? Let’s dig a bit deeper. Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of romantic relationships. 


Children develop crushes on people at a young age.

According to most psychologists and counselors, children start to develop crushes on people around five or six years old. While the crush is very innocent and doesn’t amount to much, it is the first time children are experiencing a romantic version of love. They may not necessarily know what the crush means and they may confuse it with being in love. At this young age, children are seeing what love looks like from their parents, other elders, movies, television shows, and social media. They mimic this in their own way and may see being close to or drawn to someone as the same kind of love. Sometimes this crush is a friend at school, a character in a movie, their older sibling’s friend, their teammate at soccer, etc.

Some people enter their first relationship as a teenager.

When children start to go through puberty, the intention behind a “crush” may evolve and grow. As a teenager going through puberty, sexual feelings are brand new. Teenagers begin to explore being attracted to their peers and this may lead to romantic relationships. The hormonal changes that come with puberty can lead to teenagers starting to see romantic love as not just something that their parents, other adults, and fictional characters experience. Romantic love becomes something that they can experience for themselves. While these relationships may still be innocent and sometimes off of high school status and gossip, they do start to develop connections with other people. 


People may learn that they are not straight.

While children and young adults are beginning to explore sexual attraction to others, they are exploring their own sexuality at the same time. For some people, learning their own sexuality means discovering that their sexual identity is not straight. As we mentioned above, the hormonal changes that come with puberty can lead to feeling sexually aroused by others. For many adolescents, boys find themselves aroused by girls and girls find themselves aroused by boys. However, some may start to notice that they are actually gay or bisexual once they begin to feel aroused by others.


There are different types of romantic relationships.

If you have been in more than one relationship, you may understand that not all are the same. On a deeper psychological level, there are different types of romantic love. Some people tend to always enter the same type of relationship. Some are dependent on the partner, how they act, where they live, and what they desire. Most experts agree that there are actually six different kinds. These include:

-Codependent relationships 
-Independent relationships 
-Dominant/Submissive relationships
-Open relationships
-Long distance relationships
-Toxic relationships


Not all relationships have the same “rules.”

There are different types of relationships in terms of their dynamics and ways of sharing love. There are different types of relationship structures. Not all relationships are black and white. They do not all follow the same set of “rules.” For example, polygamist relationships and open relationships. This way of sharing a life with someone may be completely foreign to someone who has only been in serious and committed romantic relationship with one person at a time. For others, emotional love and sexual love are separated and fluctuate. This can lead to relationships with different expectations and outlined rules. 


There is a common timeline among most relationships.

In most scenarios, there is a standard timeline that a romantic relationship follows. Psychologically, we like to know that we are loved, safe, and have a future with someone that we are in a relationship with. When we want a romantic relationship, we seek these key factors out and find someone with that potential. When this connection occurs, people tend to find themselves on a similar course of events. While all of these life events can be swapped and interchanged, it may look something like this:

  1. Initial meeting and attraction
  2. Going on dates and being interested in one another
  3. Entering a committed relationship
  4. Sharing a life together
  5. Moving into the same home
  6. Getting married
  7. Starting a family 

Relationships can look different depending on the culture of a place. 

Depending on the culture of a place and it’s people, relationships tend to look a little different around the world. Cultural traditions and behaviors have a big influence on romantic relationships. These factors may include:

  • religion
  • age
  • communication skills
  • intentions for the relationship, and more.

Culture can affect how a romantic relationship begins, how the couple spends time together, and the roles that each partner plays. 
Cultural differences can also play a big role in new relationships. Seeing as we view romantic relationships differently depending on our upbringing and cultural normalities, it can be difficult to mesh different cultures sometimes. 

There may be traits that makes someone want to pursue a relationship with their love interest.

People date for different reasons. Some are seeking a relationship looking for a lifetime partner. Some are looking for some fun or help with their social status. Some seek to feel a desire to feel loved. However, when it comes finding a true love interest and someone to spend your life with, we all tend to gravitate towards some common traits. The initial meeting likely took place because of a mutual physical attraction to one another. This is an important factor – being physically and sexually attracted to someone. However, there are traits below the surface that may make someone want to actively pursue a relationship with their love interest. These traits may include:

  • loyalty
  • reliability
  • good communication skills
  • dedication to their career
  • confidence
  • honesty. 

Break ups may cause broken hearts. 

Psychologists agree that break ups are not for the faint of heart. Scientifically speaking, a break up changes our brain chemistry. There is a significant decrease in the production of dopamine and serotonin – the neurotransmitters that help us feel pleasure and happiness. Because of this, the emotional toll that a break up can have may greatly impact someone post relationship life. The pain can affect someone mentally, physically and emotionally. The physical effects from a break up can resemble actual physical pain, as well as a loss of appetite and feeling fatigued. While the physical effects may not last too long, the psychological effects can feel pretty scary. Someone may feel depressed, unworthy of love, obsessive, unable to trust people, and more. 

Relationship counseling and therapy is a popular field of psychology. 

Did you know that the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports that 98% of couples who attend counseling consider it to be a success? That’s a pretty high percentage! A relationship counselor helps families and couples find solutions to problems that they may be facing. Relationships take hard work and dedication and a counselor or therapist can help couples find effective ways to manage their lives and sometimes families together. Experts claim that couple or marital therapy can help clients learn how to:

  • properly communicate
  • understand what their partner needs to see both sides of a scenario
  • make their partner feel happy and safe, and more. 

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