October 10, 2017 | Fanyi Zhang | 4,391 Comments Dear researcher, I feel like my best friend Cathy is devoting too much into her relationship, and I believe her boyfriend is not as devoting as she is. I am kind of worried about her situation. Should I stop her or talk with her boyfriend? Or is it a normal thing in a relationship? Thanks, Jane Hi Jane, In long-term relationships, people sometimes put others’ intersts on top of thier own. This is when they make sacrifices for their partners. In general, it is not terrible to give up something for others. The relationship between Cathy and her boyfriend is just like your friendship with her, where you both put efforts to make it healthy and longlasting. It is normal that sometimes you devote more, and other times she devotes more. One possible reason that your friend shows more daily sacrifice than her boyfriend may be that she possesses more communal strength, which means that she is more motivated to respond to partners’s needs noncontingently. A research conducted by Kogan et al. (2010) has found that the acts of sacrifice increases postive affects, relationship satisfaction and perceptions of appreciation from romantic partner. They also pointed out a strong mediator being the feeling of authenticity in the relationship. Applying thier conclusion into this case, making sacrifice would fit into Cathy’s perception of self (that she loves her boyfirend) and reduces her cognitive dissonance (making her inner communal beliefs consistent with outer sacrificing behaviors). Your concern on the different levels of devotion between Cathy and her boyfriend indicates an understanding of equity theory and social exchange theory, which propose that people take costs and rewards from a relationship into major consideration, and feeling of inequity might cause distress and anxiety. However, a more recent study (Clark, Mills & Powell, 1986) categorizes relationships as communal relationship and exchange relationship. People who are in a communal relationship give benefits when others have a need and when the giving would please the other with no expectation for return. Clark and Mills (1979) conducted a study where they compared different responses to reciprocal acts in the two relationship types and found that in communal relationship, people indicated more liking toward partner who was less responsive to the prosocial behaviors. This ties well into Cathy’s situation, where Cathy follows far more communal norm than exchange norm in relationships, thus she is probably looking for some long-term “paybacks” instead of immediate ones and caring less about his boyfriends’ short-term inresponsiveness. In all, as long as Cathy herself does not express any distress of not receiving enough feedbacks from her boyfriend, their relationship is still in a pretty good shape in my opinion. Hope this helps, Fanyi References: Clark, M. S., & Mills, J. (1979). Interpersonal attraction in exchange and communal relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 12-24. Clark, M. S. , Mills, J., & Powell, M. C. (1986). Keeping track of needs in communal and exchange relationships. Journal of Pesonality and Social Psychology, 51, 333–338. Kogan, A., Impett, E. A., Oveis, C., Hui B., Gordon, A. M., & Keltner, D. (2010). When giving feels good: the intrinsic benefits of sacrifice in romantic relationships for the communally motivated. Psychological Science, 21(12), 1918-1924.