Stresses and strains, including shyness, jealousy, lying, and betrayal are a big part of most relationships. In fact, they can be at least as influential as the rewards people get from their relationships (Rook, 1998).


l   Shyness is the feeling of anxiousness, inhibition, and nervous discomfort that occurs to many when in the company of others.

l   When we experience shyness, we worry about others’ disapproval and feel self-conscious and inept (van der Molen, 1990).

l   Shyness usually occurs when we are in unfamiliar situations, when we meet attractive, high-status strangers not when we are in familiar situations with friends (Leary and Kowalski, 1995).


l   Despite general tendencies, some people are chronically shy, experiencing shyness very often. They differ from less shy people in 3 ways:


l   People who are chronically shy fear negative evaluations from others.

l   Chronically shy people doubt themselves and have poor self-regard or self-esteem.

l   Chronically shy people have lower levels of social skills than people who are not shy.


l   Chronically shy people don’t feel they will make a favorable impression, leading them to be cautious and relatively withdrawn from others.

l   For example, if shy men see an attractive woman looking at them, they will look away and not saying anything (Garcia, Stinson, Ickes, Bissonette, and Briggs, 1991).

l   Their withdrawn attitude makes others stay away and shy people are often rejected (Bruch and Cheek, 1995).  


l   Programs that help people overcome their shyness target their negative thoughts and worries about what others will think of them and teach a more positive frame of mind, social skills, and how to control anxiousness and apprehension at social situations.


l   However, most people do not need formal training on how to control shyness.




l   An interesting study by Mark Leary (1986) placed people in a situation simulating a singles bar with a soundtrack of moderately annoying noise. Some people were told that the noise would be too loud to carry on a conversation, while others were told the noise was not too loud. Leary found that shy people showed a significant increase in heart rate and looked obviously nervous only if they had been told the noise was not that loud.

l   This study illustrates how many shy people do not really need social skills training as much as self-confidence (Glass and Shea, 1986).

How Shy Are You?
The Shyness Scale

Rate how well each of the following statements describes you.

0 = Extremely uncharacteristic of me; 1 = Slightly characteristic of me; 2 = Moderately characteristic of me; 3 = Very characteristic of me; 4 = Extremely characteristic of me.


I am socially somewhat awkward.

I don’t find it hard to talk to strangers.

I feel tense when I’m with people I don’t know well.

I feel inhibited in social situations.

I have trouble looking someone right in the eye.


l   Jealousy is the negative emotional experience resulting from the potential loss of a valued relationship to a real or imagined rival (Salovey, 1991).

l   The three feelings that define jealousy are:

l  Hurt

l  Anger

l  Fear



l   Hurt occurs as a result of perceiving that one’s partner has failed to honor his or her commitment to their relationship.

l   Fear and anxiety result from the prospect of abandonment and loss (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998).

l   The main feature of jealousy is the prospect of loss of a relationship that leads to the combination of pain, fear, and anger. As DeSteno and Salovey (1994) have said, “to be jealous, one must have a relationship to lose and a rival to whom to lose to.”


l   When people feel jealousy, most of the anger is directed at the partner who is starting to stray, unless the rival is a betraying friend (Paul, Foss, & Galloway, 1993).

l   Violence sometimes follows jealousy. In the US, 13% of all murders are committed by mostly jealous spouses killing one another (Buss, 2000).

l   Researchers have outlined two types of jealousy, reactive jealousy and suspicious jealousy.

Two Types of Jealousy

l    Reactive jealousy occurs when someone becomes aware of an actual threat to a valued relationship (Bringle & Buunk, 1991; Parrott, 1991).

l    The threat may have already occurred, or may be happening, or may be going to occur. Reactive jealousy always occurs in response to a realistic threat.

l    It seems young people have quite a lot to be jealous about. In a survey of nearly 700 college students, most of them reported having dated, kissed, fondled, or slept with someone else at some time during a serious romantic relationship (Wiederman & Hurd, 1999).


l   Suspicious jealousy occurs when one’s partner has not misbehaved and one’s suspicions are not representative of the facts (Bringle & Buunk, 1991).

l   Suspicious jealousy results in worried and mistrustful vigilance and snooping as the jealous partner seeks to confirm his or her suspicions.

l   This can range from a somewhat overactive imagination to obvious paranoia.

l   People differ greatly in terms of how jealous they are and what they consider to be threatening to their relationship.

Who’s Prone to Jealousy?

l   In general, men and women do not differ in how prone to jealousy they are (Buunk, 1995).

l   Dependence plays a large role in determining how jealous one is. If someone feels they need a particular partner because their alternatives are poor, they are less likely to be jealous than someone who feels they will not lose as much if the relationship does not work out (Hansen, 1985).

l   Feelings of inadequacy in a relationship also influences how prone to jealousy one is.


l   Those who feel they do not meet their partners’ expectations or who think they are not what their partners are looking for, are more prone to jealousy than those who don’t.

l   While a person’s self-worth influences self-confidence in a relationship, it does not follow that people with high self-esteem are less jealous than those with low self-esteem (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998).

l   A person’s perceptions of his or her adequacy as a partner in the relationship is what matters most in regards to jealousy.


l   A discrepancy in “mate value” (Buss, 2000) can lead to feelings of doubt and jealousy. This refers to how attractive, talented or wealthy a partner is.

l   If one partner is less valuable than the other, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and consequently jealousy.

l   Attachment styles also influence jealous tendencies. People who are preoccupied about their partners’ love tend to be more jealous than those with other attachment styles (Buunk, 1997; Sharpsteen & Kirkpatrick, 1997).


People with a dismissing style are the least prone to jealousy.

People who value sexual exclusivity, who want and expect their partners to be monogamous, are likely to experience high levels of reactive jealousy if their partners are unfaithful (White, 1981).

If their partners share their beliefs about sexual exclusivity and are faithful, they tend to experience less suspicious jealousy than others (Pines & Aronson, 1983).


l   People who have had (or are planning) affairs of their own tend to be less jealous when their partners stray (Buunk, 1982), but tend to worry more about their partners straying in the future (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998).

l   Traditional gender roles also make jealousy more likely to occur (Hansen, 1985).

l   Macho men and feminine women experience more jealousy than androgynous people do.

Who Gets Us Jealous?

l   Romantic rivals who have high mate value and who make us look bad by comparison are more threatening than those who have low mate value.

l   In particular, romantic rivals who have surpassed us in accomplishments we care about are very threatening (DeSteno & Salovey, 1996).

l   Men are more jealous of other men who are self-confident, dominant, and assertive than they are of men who are just very handsome (Dirjkstra & Buunk, 1998).

What Gets Us Jealous?

l   Evolutionary perspectives suggest that jealousy evolved to motivate behavior that would protect close relationships and result in more successful reproduction (Buss, 1999, 2000).

l   This perspective proposes that jealousy is currently a natural, ingrained reaction that is difficult to avoid (Buss, 2000).

l   It also suggests that men and women should be especially sensitive to different sorts of infidelity in their romantic partners.


l   Evolution may have favored men who were very suspicious of their partners’ fidelity because men cannot be certain of their paternity (Haselton & Buss, 2000).

l   Women, on the other hand, were sensitive to signs that the men were straying because that threatened the resources that would protect their offspring in order for them to survive.

l   Men should experience more jealousy at the sight (or thought) of sexual infidelity, while women should be more jealous of emotional infidelity, their partners falling in love with someone else.


l    In fact, when asked what would make people more jealous, sexual infidelity or emotional infidelity, men and women differ in their responses.

l    Most men (60%) said they would be more jealous of sexual infidelity and most women (83%) said they would be more jealous of emotional infidelity (Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992).

l    Men and women also differ in their judgments of the meanings of emotional and sexual infidelity.

l    For example, if the cheating spouse is a woman, then people tend to assume that she is more emotionally attached to the person they are having the affair with (Sprecher, Regan, & MicKinney, 1998). And people think sex and love are more closely tied for women than for men.

Responses to Jealousy

l    People often react to the hurt, fear, and anger of jealousy in beneficial or destructive ways (Guerrero, Anderson, Jorgensen, Spitzberg, & Elloy, 1995).

l    Sometimes people lash out in harmful and violent ways when they are jealous (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998). Other times, jealous people respond in ways that are intended to protect the relationship but may undermine it further, such as spying on partners or threatening rivals.

l    Sometimes, however, people respond positively by sincerely expressing their concerns and trying to work things out with their partners (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998).


l    Attachment styles help determine how people will react to jealousy.

l    People who are comfortable with closeness are more likely to express their concern and try to repair their relationships when they become jealous.

l    People who are dismissing or fearful are more likely to avoid the issue or deny their jealousy and concern by acting as if they didn’t care.

l    Men and women also differ in how they react to jealousy. Men tend to protect their pride by going after other women, while women tend to compete with rivals and flirt with other men in order to make their partners jealous.

Coping Constructively with Jealousy

l   While jealousy seems to be a natural response in humans and can sometimes be the glue that keeps people together, but it can also destroy relationships (Bringle & Buunk, 1991).

l   People often wish that they would feel jealousy less intensely and less often.

l   In order for that to happen, we have to do away with the idea that jealousy is a sign of “true love.”

l   Jealousy is not about love, it is actually selfish.




l    We must first recognize jealousy for what it is and then work on reducing the connection between the exclusivity of a relationship and our sense of self-worth.

l    When people reduce unwanted jealousy, they tend to use two techniques that help them maintain a sense of independence and self-worth (Salovey & Rodin, 1988).

          One of these techniques is self-reliance, which involves efforts to “stay cool” and avoid feelings of anger and embarrassment.

          The second technique is self-bolstering, raising one’s self-esteem by doing something nice for oneself and thinking about one’s good qualities.


l   Formal therapy can help people who cannot cope with jealousy themselves.

l   Therapeutic techniques aim to reduce catastrophic thinking that exaggerates the threat to the relationship, enhance self-esteem, improve communication skills, and increase satisfaction and fairness in the relationship (White & Mullen, 1989; Pines, 1998).


l   Deception of some sort occurs regularly even in intimate relationships that are based on openness and trust (Metts, 1989).

l   Deception is intentional behavior that creates an impression in the recipient that the deceiver knows is false (Buller & Burgoon, 1994).

l   Lying, in which people fabricate information, is the most straightforward example of deception. Still, there are other ways people can mislead without explicitly lying about something.


l   People can conceal information and not mention details that would communicate the truth.

l   They can also divert attention from vital facts.

l   People may also mix truthful and deceptive information into half-truths that are misleading.

Lying in Close and Casual Relationships

l   Bella DePaulo and her colleagues (1996) found very interesting results about lying in everyday life. College students report telling two lies a day on average, lying to one of every three people they interact with. Adults tell about one lie a day, on average, lying to one of every five people they interact with.

l   Most of these lies are considered (by the liars) to be casual lies that are not serious. And most liars are confident that their lies are successful and that they don’t get caught very often.


l    The most common type of lie is one that benefits the liar, keeping away embarrassment, guilt, or inconvenience, or seeking approval or material gain. However, about ¼ of all lies are told to benefit others, protecting their feelings or advancing their interests. When women interact with other women, these kinds of lies are just as common as self-centered ones (DePaulo et al., 1996).

l    People are less likely to lie in close relationships than to acquaintances and strangers. And married people are more likely to conceal information rather than explicitly lie than people in other close relationships (Metts, 1989).


l   The last findings should not mislead you, lying still occurs quite often in close relationships. Sometimes the biggest deceptions we undertake occur more often in our intimate relationships than anywhere else.

l   Despite the fact that lying is common, most people judge lying harshly (Gordon & Miller, 2000) and people know they are living dangerously when they lie to others.

l   Lying in close relationships undermines the liar’s trust in the partner who receives the lie (Sagarin, Rhoads, & Cialdini, 1998).


l   This phenomenon is known as deceiver’s distrust; when people lie to others, they begin to perceive the recipients of the lies as less honest and trustworthy as a result.


l   Liars are also more harmless and inoffensive than recipients do (Gordon & Miller, 2000).


l   Liars’ nonverbal behavior is usually what gives them away. People who lie often speak hesitantly in a higher pitch and make more grammatical errors and slips of the tongue than they do when they tell the truth (Porter & Yuille, 1996). Liars also blink more often and their pupils dilate (DePaulo, 1994).

l   Although there is no one cue that indicates that someone is lying, the overall pattern in a person’s paralanguage and body language often indicates that he or she is lying.

So, How Well Can We Detect a Partner’s Deception?

l    People differ in their mannerisms and this can make it difficult to detect if they are lying or not.

l    Research participants become better able to detect when someone is lying by getting repeated opportunities to judge whether someone is lying and receiving feedback about the accuracy of their judgments, however, they are limited to that particular person and are no better at detecting lies in other people (Zuckerman, Koester, & Alton, 1984).

l    Intimate partners have lots of knowledge about each other that should make them sensitive to lies. However, they trust each other and this leads to a truth bias or a belief that their partners are usually telling the truth (Levine & McCornack, 1992).


l    Some evidence suggests that early in a relationship women are get better at detecting deception in their partners as they spend more time together (Anderson, DePaulo, Sternglanz, & Walker, 1999).

l    Still, women are more trusting than men are (Rosenthal & DePaulo, 1979), and people are quite unlikely to notice deception when they are not alert to the possibility of it (McCornack & Levine, 1990).

l    Although some people are very good at detecting liars, including Secret Service agents and clinical psychologists, most people are not good at detecting lies.

Lies and Liars

l    People who are more sociable and more concerned with making impressions on others tell more lies than do those who are less outgoing.

l    Social skills make people more convincing liars, but a liar’s performance also depends on the degree of motivation, guilt, and fear with which they tell a lie (Zuckerman, DePaulo, & Rosenthal, 1981).

l    Interestingly, when people lie to others of the opposite sex who are attractive are more transparent than those who lie to unattractive people or to people of their own gender.

Keeping Secrets

l    At times, people interact with others when they are aware of information that they think should be kept secret. Daniel Wegner’s research, however, shows that this is not an easy thing to do (Wegner & Lane, 1995).

l    It takes quite a bit of effort not to let a secret slip and people who are keeping secrets often become preoccupied with the knowledge they are trying not to speak about.

l    There is a special appeal to secret relationships. In one study, men and women who were previously told to play “footsie” with each other without others noticing were subsequently more attracted to each other than men and women who played footsie publicly (Wegner, Lane, & Dimitri, 1994).


l    People do not always do what we expect them to or want them to do. Some of what are partners surprise us with is nice (Afifi & Metts, 1998), while other surprises are unpleasant or harmful.

l    Such acts are betrayals, actions that are hurtful and unexpected from those we are close to (Crouch, Jones, & Moore, 1999).

l    Sexual and emotional infidelity and lying are common betrayals, but breaking promises, gossiping behind one’s partner’s back, or abandoning a relationship are also considered betrayals (Metts).


l   The common feature of betrayals and what hurts us most seems to be relational devaluation, the painful realization that our partners do not love, respect, or accept us as much as we thought they did or want them to (Leary, 2001).

l   This means that we must have a desired relationship in order for a betrayal to take place.

l   When we are hurt it is usually our friends and lovers who cause us pain.

Individual Differences in Betrayal

l    Jones and Burdette (1994) found that betrayal scores are higher in college students majoring in the social sciences, education, and humanities and lower than those majoring in physical sciences, engineering, and other technical fields.

l    Older people tend to betray others less than younger people do and better educated people and more religious people are less likely to betray others.

l    Men and women do not differ in how much they betray others, although, men tend to betray romantic and business partners, while women tend to betray friends and family members.

Two Sides to Every Betrayal

l   Those who are betrayed usually judge the betrayal as more severe (Kowalski, 2000) and memorable than the betrayers do (Van Lange, Rusbult, Semin-Goossens, Gorts, & Stalpers, 1999).

l   Betrayals almost always have a negative effect on our relationships (Amato & Rogers, 1997) and are the major complaint of couples seeking therapy or divorce (Geiss & O’Leary, 1981).

Coping with Betrayal

l   When thinking back to past betrayals, college students report less anxiety and better coping when they tried to:

l   face up to the betrayal instead of denying it;

l   reinterpret the event and used it for personal growth; and

l   relied on friends for support (Ferguson-Issac, Ralston, & Couch, 1999).


l   Women often cope better with betrayal; they are more likely to seek support and think positively about the situation (Couch, Rogers, & Howard, 2000).



l    Forgiveness is sometimes needed after a betrayal, if a relationship is to continue (Fincham, 2000).

l    Forgiveness is a “decision to give up your perceived or actual right to get even with, or hold in debt, someone who has wronged you” (Markman, Stanley, & Blumberg, 1994).

l    Two key components of forgiveness are sincere apologies and empathy on the part of the victim. Although forgiveness is not easy, it occurs more often in committed relationships.

l    The pain inflicted by betrayals is greater in intimate relationships and intimacy offers the potential for invaluable, irreplaceable rewards and excruciating costs.