Expectations in Relationships

What motivates people to go out of their way to do things for their loved ones? Are loving feelings the only -or even the best- predictor of what we think we’ll do and what we’ll really do for our romantic partner?


People tend to make overly enthusiastic promises because they love their partner, yet they fall short of the promised behaviors not because of a lack of love but because of insufficient self-control strength. We identified situational factors that determine when the effect of love on prorelational behavior might be relatively stronger or weaker. For example, when a prorelational behavior can be done immediately, feelings for the partner are more important than levels of self-control – but the reverse is true if the prorelational behavior is delayed or has to be sustained over a longer period of time.

We are currently investigating how the link between feelings and prorelational behavior holds up under stress – do people who are highly committed to their relationship manage to uphold their relatively higher levels of immediate prorelational behavior in busy times, do their efforts collapse to the level of uncommitted partners, or do they activate remaining resources and do more for their partner under duress than regularly?


  • Kammrath, L., & Peetz, J. (2013). Folk understandings of self-regulation in relationships: Recognizing the importance of self-regulatory ability for others, but not the self. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 712-718.
  • Peetz, J., & Kammrath, L. (2011). Only because I love you: Why people make and why they break romantic promises. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 887-904.
  • Kammrath, L., & Peetz, J. (2011). The Limits of Love: Predicting immediate versus sustained caring behaviors in close relationships. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 411-417.

    Media coverage:

    Psychology Today 2011
    Psychology Today 2010


    Lara and Johanna
    Lara and Johanna on the Hohernzollernbruecke in Cologne. Each lock symbolizes a relationship. (See wikipedia on love-padlocks)
    © 2007 Organic Rhythm