Spice up your love life with the University of New England

Published 12 May 2011

holdinghandsResearchers at the University of New England want to put the excitement back into your love life — and they’re not necessarily talking about the bedroom.

Dr John Malouff and his colleagues at UNE’s School of Psychology are seeking more than 100 couples for two studies that will attempt to make their relationships more exciting and more caring respectively.

The couples don’t have to be married or even living together — they just have to be in a romantic relationship. Same-sex couples are welcome. And since the interventions will be conducted online, the couples can come from anywhere, according to Dr Malouff.

Both of the studies draw on previous UNE research that found romantic relationships can be described in terms of four fundamental characteristics: how exciting, caring, secure, and difficult the partners perceive the relationship to be. That research was presented in San Francisco last year at the Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies.

“Our research shows that all four factors are related to relationship satisfaction,” Dr Malouff said, “and this in turn is related to life satisfaction. After all, how happy we are in our primary relationship has a big effect on happiness generally.”

“Of the four, there are two we think we may be able to influence: how exciting and how caring a couple perceives their relationship to be.”

Couples can participate in either study, and participation is completely confidential, with all interaction with the researchers to be conducted via e-mail.

“All we need the participants to do is answer a few questions, and then complete some activities over the course of a few weeks. Afterwards, we’ll ask some more questions to examine the effects of the intervention.”

Besides being over 18, Dr Malouff said there were no limits on the age of the participants.  There was one requirement, however: both partners in a couple must be willing to participate.

“Improving your relationship is not something you can do solo,” Dr Malouff said. “Both partners need to be involved if the intervention is to be effective.”

People interested in participating in the study on increasing excitement levels in a relationship should contact co-researcher Kimberley Coulter at kcoulter@une.edu.au.  Those interested in participating in the study on increasing the level of caring in their relationship should contact co-researcher Sandra Gilbert at sgilber3@une.edu.au.