Date Published: May 13, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Kruti Surti, Sandra J. E. Langeslag, Lydia Elizabeth Hayward.
Research has shown that romantic love can be regulated. We investigated perceptions about love regulation, because these perceptions may impact mental health and influence love regulation application. Two-hundred eighty-six participants completed a series of items online via Qualtrics that assessed perceived ability to up- and down-regulate, exaggerate and suppress the expression of, and start and stop different love types. We also tested individual differences in perceived love regulation ability. Participants thought that they could up- but not down-regulate love in general and that they could up-regulate love in general more than down-regulate it. Participants thought that they could up-regulate infatuation less than attachment and sexual desire. Participants also thought that they could exaggerate and suppress expressions of infatuation, attachment, and sexual desire, but that they could not start and stop infatuation and attachment, or start sexual desire. The more participants habitually used cognitive reappraisal, the more they thought that they could up- and down-regulate infatuation and attachment and up-regulate sexual desire. The more participants were infatuated with their beloved, the more they thought that they could up- but not down-regulate infatuation, attachment, and sexual desire. Finally, participants thought that they could up- and down-regulate happiness more than infatuation These findings are a first step toward the development of psychoeducation techniques to correct inaccurate love regulation perceptions, which may improve mental health and love regulation in daily life.
Do you think you can regulate how in love you are? Love can be weaker than desired. For example, studies have shown that love declines over time  and that falling out of love is one of the main reasons for divorce . Love can also be stronger than desired, such as after a break-up. In these types of situations, it might be advantageous to regulate love. Love regulation is the use of behavioral and cognitive strategies to change the intensity of love . Research has shown that love regulation is feasible [3–9], but research on people’s perceptions about love regulation (i.e., whether they think that love can be regulated) is scarce.
Previous studies have shown that love can be up- and down-regulated [3–9]. The current study investigated people’s perceptions about love regulation because those may impact mental health and may influence whether people will actually engage in love regulation. To this end, participants completed items that assessed the extent to which they think they could up- and down-regulate love, exaggerate and suppress the expression of love, and start and stop love. We also tested individual differences in perceptions regarding love regulation, and differences in perceptions between infatuation, attachment, sexual desire, happiness, sadness, fear, and anger.