Don't Have Couple Envy On Valentine's Day

Wednesday is Valentine's Day — the most romantic day of the year for some. But for others, seeing love birds snuggle and hold hands in public is enough to give them a case of relationship envy.

But take heart, says Kate White, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. It's normal to compare ourselves to other people and have a certain amount of envy, but the way couples behave in public is not always the reality of what goes on behind closed doors.

"But there's a really interesting phenomenon called social motivation that when we're with other people we do things with our behavior based on what their expectations are," White told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "So if you think this couple that you know, that they're the golden couple because they're always funny and so dynamic, they raise the bar when they're around you. So what you're seeing is them with their very best selves. You have to understand that behind closed doors, they're probably just as — just normal. They're not the perfect couple."

Some couples, like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, tend to be extremely touchy-feely in public. That's because couples like that might be trying to convince others and themselves about their relationship, While said.

"It could mean that very likely that is not that good and that you've got to prove it to everyone around you," White said. "It's entertaining and it's just trying to make up for an inadequacy that you actually feel."

White said there is a flipside to all relationships. For example, a woman might be envious of her friend's boyfriend because he is always so funny.

"The flipside may be that he's not very good listener or he's always on at home, too, or he owns a hedge fund and you think he has so much money but he may have no time," White said. "You have to understand there's always that opposite side."

White said that even though it may seem that bickering couples are not very solid, they are actually often very close. The mini-arguments are a sign that the couple is emotionally involved and they have faith that their disagreements won't derail their relationship.

Sometimes, people brag about their sex lives and that doesn't mean that it is all it's cracked up to be either, White said.

"You're going to be sitting there thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, they're so much better than us,' " White said. "But if she's bragging about it, chances are that it's not all that common. Or sometimes they do it just for the shock value. But the good thing is that you can sort of use it as an impetus, if are you feeling green with envy, take away from the fact that you may want to jump start things yourself."

But an important thing in all relationships, friendship or otherwise, is to remain loyal. Many people learn secrets about their friends and automatically tell their partner. White said think before you tell someone something. Do they have the kind of relationship where they share everything?

"The only way you can really stop it is to perhaps phrase it when you tell her, such as, 'I'm really going to feel embarrassed if you tell Jeff,' " White said. "And if you play up that, she may not tell him. But you have to understand there's a very good chance she will."
  • Caitlin Johnson

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