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Meeting With Ex: Coffee OK, But Lunch Triggers Jealousy

Put down that menu and stick to a cappuccino.

By Kristin Wong Jul 16, 2012 3:15PM

Photo: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty ImagesHave plans to meet up with an old flame? If you want to keep your current relationship intact, you may want to forego lunch and stick to coffee.

Scientists at Cornell University have found that meeting up with an ex will make your partner significantly more jealous if food is involved. While a coffee date does elicit some jealousy, apparently, it's not as threatening as sharing a meal.

“Our research suggests that sharing lunch involves more than the physical consumption of calories," concluded the study's co-authors, Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink, according to PsychCentral.

Food and intimacy might not sound like the sexiest of combinations—an image of George Costanza's naked pastrami eating comes to mind—but previous research has found that meals play a critical role in human courtship behavior. So Kniffin and Wansink wanted to find out just how food fit in with jealousy in romantic relationships.

According to their paper, "It's Not Just Lunch: Extra-Pair Commensality Can Trigger Sexual Jealousy," Kniffin and Wansink surveyed 153 undergraduate students, male and female, and presented them with six scenarios. The participants were then asked to rate their jealousy with each scenario, on a scale of one to five. The scenarios read like this:

"Recently, your (romantic partner) was contacted by his/her ex-(romantic partner) and she/he spent approximately one hour (1) corresponding via email, (2) talking on the phone, (3) meeting for late-morning coffee, (4) meeting for a late-morning meal (or Lunch), (5) meeting for late-afternoon coffee, and (6) meeting for a late-afternoon meal (or Dinner).”

The results? Phone conversations elicited more jealousy than emails. Coffee made people just as jealous as phone calls, but morning coffee wasn't as bad as late-afternoon coffee. However, sharing a meal topped the list.

“We consistently found that meals elicit more jealousy than face-to-face interactions that do not involve eating – such as having coffee,” Kniffin said.

He added that the results were consistent for both men and women. Wansink concluded:

“It’s key to remember that from your spouse’s perspective, it’s not ‘just lunch.’ While meals can strengthen social relationships, they can also destroy them."

Tell us on Facebook: What do you think? If your partner were meeting with an old flame, would you be jealous? Would a meal make it worse?


Photo: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty Images

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