This Friday, those checking out the restaurant scene are bound to see many filled tables for two, but research suggests that couples looking to spark passionate feelings might consider double dating instead pairing off this Valentine's Day.
Research has shown couples on a double date, sharing having personal conversations that are supported and received well actually experience more passionate feelings toward their partner. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
"Passionate love is one of the first dimensions of love to decrease in couples over time as the newness of a relationship begins to wane," Keith Welker, a doctoral student at Wayne State University, said in a statement.
Researchers evaluated the effects of self-disclosure on 150 couples in two studies. Couples played a "Fast Friends" activity, developed by the study co-author Arther Aron with Stony Brook University, which asked questions like "What is your idea of a perfect day?" or "Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?" More personal questions involving most embarrassing moments and advise situations were included in the activity as well.
Couples involved in the "high-disclosure Fast Friends" activity where they shared more detailed feelings about themselves, reported higher feelings of passionate love in their relationships, compared to those who only had to answer small-talk questions.
The second study found that if the other couple responded to these more personal disclosures in a "validating and caring way when on a double date, the more passionate you feel about your own relationship," Welker said.
"Although we still need to investigate why responsiveness from other couples predicts increases in passionate love, one possibility is that having another couple respond positively to yourself and your partner may provide you with a fresh, positive view of your partner and relationship," he continued.
In light of this information, Welker advised couples to consider going on a double date in a forum that would facilitate such personal disclosures and where the other couple could react in a positive manner. An at home dinner versus a restaurant double date would be preferable, he said, because it could be a more comfortable setting for sharing personal information.
This study was published in the journal Personal Relationships in 2009 but was a topic presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual conference taking place in Austin, Texas, this week and is timely as Valentine's Day plans are being set.