Add it to the list of things we already knew but may not have had the hard data to back up: prohibition, however benign, really does provoke indiscretion. As reported by Psychology Today, a recent study out of the University of Kentucky and Florida State found that “Forbidding Makes The Heart Grow Fonder”, ht JD:

It’s no surprise that partners who are less interested in alternatives to their current relationship partners turn out to be more satisfied with those relationships. If you don’t think the grass is greener, then you won’t be as interested in hopping the fence. What might come as a bigger surprise are the findings of a group of psychologists at the University of Kentucky and Florida State suggesting how one should react to a partner whose eyes (and potentially, hearts) are wandering: let them ogle.

They root their theory in an old idea that has received strong recent empirical support: forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. When our desires are externally prohibited, desires grow stronger. Psychologists call this “reactance”. When prohibitions are imposed upon us we tend to interpret such impositions as an affront to our liberty. In response we come to value the forbidden more than we otherwise would. This is why we drive even faster than we were previously going after we pass by police cars on the highway. Police going to tell me how fast I can drive? I don’t think so.

And lest you think this effect only applies to men, women composed a majority of the sample and there were no gender differences in these effects.

So, though the degree to which we only have eyes for our partners is indeed a reliable predictor of satisfaction, when those eyes wander whipping them back into place won’t cause the kind of love-struck myopia you hope for. Indeed, at best their eyes will be back on you, but their hearts will be miles away. This is not to say that apathy will make your relationship better. It won’t. But eye-wandering appears to be a symptom of a troubled relationship as opposed to a root cause.