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This low-effort activity can bring the love back into your relationship


Time to click through your old Facebook albums: In long-lasting relationships, merely looking at your partner’s pictures can increase your infatuation, attachment and marital satisfaction. Journal of Psychophysiology,


“We know that love feelings typically decline over time in long-term relationships and that a decline in love feelings is a common cause of breakups,” study authors sandra langslag, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. director of louis and Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab, told HuffPost.

Langslag and his team wanted to see if there was a way to bring the excitement back into once-romantic partnerships. To do this, they recruited 25 mostly heterosexual-married people for the study: twenty-four participants had husbands of the opposite sex, and one female participant had a same-sex husband. On average, participants had known their partners for 11.9 years.

To get some background on couples and collect controlled data, each person was asked how they would rate their current infatuation level and attachment to their spouse, how long they had known the partner, how long they had been romantically involved, and how long they had known the partner. formally involved and how many years they were married.

Each person also completed assessments of their marital satisfaction and love regulation. (In social science jargon, “love regulation” is how we use behavioral or cognitive strategies the intensity of our feelings. For example, in a relationship you want to distance yourself from, you might consciously choose to think positively about the other person or try something new on a regular basis.)


Jin Chu / EyeEm via Getty Images

Looking at old photos helps you bask in romantic nostalgia, which is a powerful feeling to develop in a long-term relationship.

Next, the researchers had the participants view pictures of their spouse alongside pleasant and neutral pictures while their brain activity was recorded. (Pleasant photos showed strangers smiling or doing something nice, such as hiking or petting an animal. Neutral photos showed strangers engaged in mundane activities, such as grocery shopping or working on a computer.) Doing.)

Some pictures and pleasant pictures of the spouse were preceded by emotional regulation cues, such as, “Think of a good personality trait of your spouse,” and “This man is living out his dream of hang gliding.”

As the pictures were shown, participants used sliders to indicate how infatuated they felt with their spouse, how attached they felt to their spouse, and how satisfied they felt with their marriage. Huh.


Finally, Langslag and his team found that viewing pictures of a spouse increased infatuation, attachment, and marital satisfaction, compared to viewing pleasant or neutral pictures.

In addition, a pattern of electrical brain activity known as the late positive potential (LPP) was most positive in response to pictures of the spouse, indicating that “participants paid more attention to the spouse than to pleasant pictures.” ”

“Sometimes people think it’s not possible to control your emotions when it comes to love,” Langslag told HuffPost, but this study shows that looking at pictures of your partner can increase your affection and feelings for them. Relationship satisfaction increases.”


Langslag said that the reverse is also true; her previous research revealed Thinking negatively about your partner/ex-partner while looking at his/her photo leads to loss of loveWhich can be helpful in dealing with heartbreak.

Guido Myth via Getty Images

“Unlike something like couples therapy, you don’t even need your partner to be present to do it,” Langslag said of the photo experiment.

The researchers think their current findings may be most beneficial for long-term couples and long-distance couples who need a boost of affection when they are not together.

“Unlike something like couples therapy, you don’t need your partner to be present to do this,” she said.

Other studies have highlighted the power of romantic nostalgia and the role of positive remembrance in the functioning of long-term relationships.

A 2022 study finds that romantic nostalgia is positive is linked to greater relationship commitment, satisfaction, and closeness,

Instead of pictures, the researchers in that study asked participants in long term relationships Either to write about a past experience with their partner or to listen to a song that makes them feel nostalgic about their relationship. Others wrote about a mundane experience they enjoyed or heard a song they liked but was not connected to their relationship.

Comparing the two groups, the researchers found that those experiencing depression felt closer, more committed, and more loving to their partner. They were also more satisfied with their overall relationship.

“These are simple strategies that can help people stabilize their marriages, especially if love feelings have declined,” Langslag said.

Eager to browse through some old pictures of your partner now? If you still have Facebook, the app conveniently groups all your interactions (photos, conversations) with a person under a “View Friendship” button on their profile. (We apologize in advance for reading all the overzealous wall posts you sent your spouse during the crush phase of the relationship. For love’s sake, the flattery is worth it.)

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