"The more that the other couple responds to your self-disclosures in a validating and caring way when on a double date, the more passionate you feel about your own relationship," Welker explains.
"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." In the meantime, this Valentine's Day, Welker suggests picking a double-date activity that facilitates personal disclosure.
"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," says Keith Welker, a doctoral student at Wayne State University.
"Relationships have widely been thought to flourish and develop in a broader network of social relationships, while emerging research has suggested that novel, arousing experiences can increase feelings of passionate love." The new research fuses together the two research areas, showing that novel, high-self-disclosure interactions with other couples can increase feelings of passionate love.
"So whatever the ultimate explanation, I do not think the phenomenon is real," Coan says.
"I think it has to do with the conceptualization of one's relationship." "It may not even be about marriage, per se, but about asserting cohabitation instead," he explains.
"Any setting where couples can talk, exchange information about each other, and respond to each other in a validating, thoughtful manner could apply," he says.
"One very practical application could be going out to dinner with another couple." But he says to opt for dinner at home, as that will engender more disclosure than a date at a public restaurant.
They wanted to extend the research to investigate how self-disclosure between couples affects closeness and feelings of passionate love.
"We were expecting that the formation of a friendship between two couples in the lab would increase closeness and relationship satisfaction," Welker says.