I am a Lecturer/Assistant Professor at the University of Sussex, UK, after working as a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I closely work with Prof. Emily Impett who directs the Relationships and Well-Being lab at the University of Toronto Mississauga, as well as Dr. Amy Muise who directs the Sexual Health and Relationships lab at York University.
I started my academic journey in the Netherlands, where I first completed a 2-year research masters in behavioral science at Radboud University Nijmegen, and continued my journey at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where I obtained my PhD specialized in interpersonal relationships, working with Dr. Francesca Righetti and Prof. Paul van Lange. Since 2018 I have worked as a postdoctoral scholar and lecturer at the University of Toronto and York University.
The well-being of our relationships is central to our own well-being, but maintaining a great relationship is not always easy. One of the major challenges I focus on is partners having different goals, needs, or preferences. To resolve such conflicts, people make sacrifices, which can be small but common, such as watching a partner’s preferred movie, or more substantial, such as moving to a different country to support a partner’s career.
1. Personal-Relational Balance
While sacrificing is sometimes needed to coordinate our life with a romantic partner, our personal interests are important too. I focus on people's dedication to both personal and relational interests, and how we can maintain an optimally balanced life. Although this balancing act can be challenging, it ultimately benefits both people's own well-being and their relationship.
3. Appraising Sacrifices
How we feel about the sacrifices we make impacts our well-being and that of the relationship, so how can we appraise sacrifices in a more positive light? I focus on the role of a partner's responsiveness to our needs and interests in transforming our appraisals and lighten the load of the sacrifices we make for them.
In three lines of work, my goal is to uncover how couples can optimally navigate conflicting interests and sacrifices, and thereby enjoy high-quality relationships and a fulfilling life. I use controlled experimental methods, and also study couples' experiences in their daily lives and as their relationships unfold over time, to gain a rich understanding of couples' lived experiences.
When people decide to sacrifice for their partner, their partner may not always observe their generous act; we see only about half of our partner's daily sacrifices! Perceiving a partner's sacrifices is important because this gives us an opportunity to feel grateful for what they did and express our appreciation. Such gratitude fuels the relationship and makes us feel good too.