Being in relationship is like hopping from one roller coaster to the next, over and over and over again. You love each other, sure, but everyone has lulls and moments of doubt along with that; there are always moments of sadness to go with the happiness. Your emotions whirl left and right, up and down, just like when you rode the Cyclone in Santa Cruz a few years back. But overtime, even a roller coaster gets exhausting and tiring if ridden too routinely, and relationships are no different when they get tinted by habit. So, how do we avoid these feelings of dissatisfaction over time and foster long-lasting love (like, that stuff-of-film, The Notebook kind)? Researchers asked themselves the same question, and came up with a pretty interesting answer: pictures of puppies.
According to a study published in Psychological Science, looking at puppy pictures with your S.O. will, in fact, improve your relationship. Researchers came to this (wonderful) conclusion after conducting a 6-week experiment with 144 married couples. The goal of the study was to improve the emotions spouses associated with their partners in the long term. Researchers were intrigued by sky-high divorce rates — hovering between 30% and 50% — across industrialized countries (holy shitaki, that’s a lot). They realized that relationship satisfaction significantly decreased over time, resulting in divorce or unhappy marriages. But like true romantics, they took it upon themselves to find the ultimate love potion to boost relationship satisfaction. Enter the doggos.
The researchers assigned half of their sample group the task of looking at “positive” pictures (like ones of adorable puppies), and the other half to look at “neutral” pictures (like ones of grass or blue skies). Every three days, the “positive” or “neutral” photos were replaced with images of the participants’ spouses. At the end of the 6-week study, the people who looked at cute puppy pictures with their S.O. were more satisfied with their partners than the ones who spent the period of the study looking at non-emotionally evocative images with them.
Thanks to this study, you can now shamelessly follow dozens of cute puppy accounts and snap hundreds of photos of your friend’s chunky corgi, all in the name of love! Beyond that, you can use positive image associations (whether dog or non-dog related) to improve relationships with distant loved ones. Maybe your husband is in the military and stationed in another country, or maybe your girlfriend is finishing up grad school on the other side of the country; whatever it may be, using positive image associations will help you maintain a joyful and loving perception of your S.O.
Looks like dogs may not only be man’s best friend, but sneaky, cute-as-can-be undercover cupids, too!