Non-Married Couples Express Deceptive Affection 3 Times a Week

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Does your lover really mean it when they’re kind to you, or could they have ulterior motives behind their affectionate behavior?

A new study, soon to be published in Communication Quarterly, found individuals in non-married romantic relationships express deceptive affection toward their partner an average of three times a week.

Researchers described “deceptive affection” as when an individual in a romantic relationship verbally or nonverbally expresses affection he or she does not actually feel at the time.


“Individuals in non-married romantic relationships

express deceptive affection three times a week.”

Examples include when one participant told his girlfriend he loved her in order to get off the phone faster. Another participant said she told her boyfriend she liked his haircut so she wouldn’t hurt his feelings.

Study co-author Sean Horan said couples express deceptive affection in the hopes of hiding their true feelings.

“Couples use deceptive affection because they feel negatively about their partner and want to save face, avoid embarrassing their partner or sidestep a situation that may land them in hot water,” said Horan, an assistant professor at DePaul University in the College of Communication. “Using affection to lie appears to be a regular activity in romantic relationships that most people don’t seem to mind. In fact, deceptive affection might actually help maintain a relationship.”

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