Intimate Relationships and Social Change: Volume 11

Cover of Intimate Relationships and Social Change

The Dynamic Nature of Dating, Mating, and Coupling


Table of contents

(14 chapters)

The relationship between religious belief and spousal choice in Nepal is examined, looking at how the importance that individuals place on their own religious faith influences their decision either to allow their parents and other relatives to arrange a marriage for them or to initiate their own love marriage. How the importance attached to religious faith within the individual’s family and neighborhood affects this decision, and how education modifies the relationship between religion and spousal choice are also looked at.

Ordinary least squares regression models are used to examine the relationship between spousal choice and key independent variables. Interaction terms are used to examine how education may moderate the relationship between personal, family, and neighborhood religious salience and spousal choice.

It is found that the effect of one’s neighbors’ faith operates differently based on one’s own level of education. The “moral communities” thesis is used to theorize that in neighborhoods where religion is regarded as very important, individuals need to expend more effort to maintain respectability, adhering to tradition by having arranged marriages. In neighborhoods where religion is less important, the weaker demands made by the “moral community” render individuals more free to choose their own spouses. For highly educated individuals, the effect of their neighbors’ religious belief is considerably reduced.

As Nepalis become more educated, they not only move out of the sphere of family influence, as discussed in previous research, but also away from being influenced by their neighbors.


Every society has unique factors that contribute to the selection of marriage partner among young adults. These factors have been found to equally determine marital satisfaction and marital stability. This study focuses on married couples in Nigeria and factors that determined how they transcended from their dating period to marriage.

A total of 19 married couples participated in this study, which involved the use of focus group discussions to elicit data from them. Snowball sampling technique was used to obtain respondents who had similar characteristics.

The respondents were aged between 38 and 50 years, had courted for at least 7 years before marriage, and marriage was not less than 10 years. Data was analyzed using content analysis. Themes bordered on factors determining choice of partner, how they met, length of their dating, and courtship periods. Physical attractiveness, as a determining factor, was clearly evident among participants. Participants agreed that communication was vital to marriage stability.

The study brought to light that in spite of strong traditional values, Nigerians displayed romantic characteristics similar to Western societies such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The study was limited because of the method adopted for selecting participants. Also, some variables such as ethnic background and educational background were not included in the study. The study recommends future studies which may be longitudinal, involving couples’ personality traits, families of origin, and so on, in order to yield more salient issues.


This paper draws in part from data of a larger study on marital lives and divorce of women of various ages and backgrounds residing in metropolitan Turkey. The aim of the overall study has been to understand various factors which have paved the ways leading to divorce and the research method used for the study is based on narrative analysis. An important finding of the study is the control of women’s sexuality which is discussed in this paper with the help of the narratives of three women who are raised by dominant fathers and by subordinated mothers. I argue that gender and generation hierarchies are hidden in the idealized image of family life in low- to middle-income families residing in suburban Turkey. Intergenerational conflicts arise due to three women’s oppression in their young ages by their fathers who have decided upon their marriages to control their sexuality. Yet, as young adults, the three women try to find ways to cope with the control of their sexuality. The analysis of the three women’s narratives reveal their endeavors either to challenge the idealized “virgin bride” norm or to get rid of their unwanted marriages through divorce or separation which can be considered as instances of women’s resistance to patriarchal domination and their search for individuation. How much resistance the three women are able to endeavor is dependent on the aspects of gendered interactions and on the embeddedness of ambivalences in gender role models in the patriarchal gender regime of Turkish society.


This paper aims to explore how couples reflect gender role–related attitudes in their family formation process and whether these processes could be described through the lens of ambivalence. Using qualitative methods, semi-structured interviews with Estonian married and cohabiting couples were conducted (all together 24 interviewees). Analysis revealed themes of ambivalence toward gender roles among married and cohabiting couples. The present study could be classified as exploratory in identifying ambivalence, with open-ended and emergent analysis.

It is known that Estonians have adopted Western values and their family behavior resembles that of Nordic countries. However, our interviews showed that on the level of the individual, gender role–related attitudes in relationships have remained traditional. The reason for this might lie in the rapid change of values that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Western lifestyle was seen as an ideal, and copied in behavior before the actual family or gender role values could undergo the transformation needed to support egalitarian family values.

Our study reveals that the societal context of a rapid change in values and norms might create confusion and ambivalence in attitudes. Therefore, a high proportion of cohabiting couples might not be the product of egalitarian gender role–related attitudes but a product of ambivalent couple relations where the couple has not discussed thoroughly the vision and expectations they have for each other and their relationship.


The gender-gap reversal in education could have far-reaching consequences for marriage and family lives in the United States. This study seeks to address the following question: As women increasingly marry men with less education than they have themselves, is the traditional male breadwinner model in marriage challenged?

This study takes a life course approach to examine how educational assortative mating shapes trajectories of change in female breadwinning status over the course of marriage. It uses group-based trajectory models to analyze data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979.

The results reveal substantial movement by wives in and out of the primary breadwinner role across marital years and great heterogeneity in female breadwinning trajectories across couples. In addition, educational assortative mating plays a role in shaping female breadwinning trajectories: Compared with wives married to men whose educational levels equal or exceed their own, wives married to men with less education than themselves are more likely to have a continuously high probability of being primary earners and are also more likely to gradually or rapidly transition into primary earners if initially they are not.

This study examines couples’ breadwinning arrangements over an extended period of time and identifies qualitatively distinct patterns of change in female breadwinning that are not readily identifiable using ad hoc, ex ante classification rules. The findings suggest that future research on the economics of marriage and couple relations in families would benefit from a life course approach to conceptualizing couples’ dynamic divisions of breadwinning.


Drawing from theories of structural power and relational competence, this paper proposes an innovative theoretical model able to predict relationship outcomes during adolescence by mapping the partners’ resources and patterns of exchange in four contexts (family, work/school, leisure time, and survival) as power bases in the relationship. Adolescent dating is an important juncture in the developmental pathway to adult partnership, both in terms of relational satisfaction and relationship violence. Power processes can capture the dynamics of both healthy and unhealthy relationships, regardless of gender, contingent to the power advantage (or disadvantage) within the relationship and can produce predictable consequences for partner’s behavior. Knowing which partner holds what kind and amount of power and in which decision-making areas may be used to predict the actions of either partner and ultimately identify the trajectories of their relationships.


In recent years, Asian countries have experienced rising rates of premarital cohabitation, mirroring a similar trend that could be observed in many European countries several decades ago. As international differences in these trends are often attributed to institutional and societal differences, this study explores how China’s and Germany’s welfare and cultural regimes relate to national differences in the timing and prevalence of premarital cohabitation and direct marriage.

On the basis of two post-hoc harmonized surveys (pairfam for Germany; CFPS for China), descriptive analyses and logistic regressions were conducted. A higher standardization of partnership trajectories during the transition to adulthood was observed in China; this being probably related to China’s collectivist and Germany’s individualistic culture. While urban–rural differences prevail in China, and are attributable to China’s hukou system, East and West Germans differ considerably in this regard, a finding which can be traced back to regional differences in historical legacy. Discrepancies in economic modernization explain why the likelihood of experiencing these events differs for individuals in the Eastern and Western Chinese provinces.

Besides these differences, the two national contexts resemble each other in the prevalence of educational hypergamy, as well as in greater rates of cohabitation prior to first marriage, in contrast to direct marriage, seen among wealthier individuals and those with higher education. For the first time, the effects of cultural and institutional differences on the transition to adulthood were compared between a collectivistic vs. individualistic cultural regime and a productivist vs. corporatist conservative welfare regime, enabling researchers to draw conclusions about the link between cultural and welfare regime types and partnership patterns.


This paper aims at a better understanding of contemporary women’s relationship paths and their reasoning behind them. Qualitative interviews with 48 rural and urban women from Western Mexico were conducted and analyzed using a thematic approach and data discussed from a feminist, gender approach and late modernity approach. Findings reveal civil and religious marriages were the paths two-third of women followed to start a family and that women living in permanent and alternating cohabitation did not seek to marry. Women held ambivalent views on marital life and poorer and less-educated women, particularly urban participants, had no choice but to marry. Findings on reasoning reveal a more complex and diverse reality than previous sociodemographic studies have portrayed, where pragmatism and social order were the main causes for marrying and cohabitation. Narratives show premarital sex and the symbolism of marriage and family are changing. A comparative approach between contexts of study, age groups, civil status, and social strata enriched and strengthened the discussion of the findings. The results were contrasted with existing Mexican literature from different fields. A larger qualitative study is needed to broaden the scope of the findings made by this study, whilst large-scale studies should consider either the use of mixed approaches or the inclusion of items that allow them to identify the elements of social and cultural change. The study could help to demystify women’s attitudes toward marriage, sex, and love; a field currently sprinkled with western romantic love values and gender-driven idealizations. This paper might be of interest for social demographers, anthropologists, sociologists, and historians conducting research on these themes from feminist and gender perspectives.


Research on relational maintenance of long-distance or cross-residential romantic relationships is limited. Moreover, relatively little is known about relational maintenance among non-marital intimate partners in later life, many of whom prefer to live-apart-together (LAT) rather than cohabit. This research paper examines how older adults from the United States maintain their romantic relationships across residences. The authors conducted a grounded theory study drawing on interviews collected from 22 older adults in LAT relationships. The data revealed that older LAT partners engage in a process of safeguarding autonomy to maintain their partnerships and relationship satisfaction. Two broad strategies were identified: upholding separateness and reshaping expectations. While safeguarding autonomy was paramount, participants also emphasized the importance of having a flexible mindset about the physical copresence of their relationships. The findings have implications for practice, suggesting that creating an interdependent couple-identity may undermine, or at least have little bearing on, the relationship stability of older LAT couples. Future research is needed to determine how LAT experiences among racially/ethnically or socioeconomically diverse samples might differ.


The present study explored the demographics and associations between the use of technology and romantic relationships among 171 young adults.

Participants completed a self-administered anonymous, online survey that included 66 questions assessing demographic information, use of technology, sexting activity, and sexual behaviors. Crosstabs were performed between demographic factors and questions assessing online engagement with romantic partners. A chi-square test for independence (with Yates Continuity Correction) was done among the remaining questions on Internet use and demographic variables, with the exception of age. Independent-samples t-tests were conducted to compare age with the questions posed on how technology influences romantic relationships. The authors used Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model and Johnson’s addition of the technosubsystem to examine the influence of the Internet on relationships.

Results showed variation with the Internet’s impact on close relationships by ethnicity; Caucasians were more likely to see the Internet as increasing their relationship while African Americans saw it as negatively impacting it. In addition, men were more likely to use technology to maintain long-distance relationships, as well as search for a partner, flirt, and ask a partner out online.

As relational scientists, it is particularly important to understand if and how interpersonal relationships are affected by the use of technology. Suggestions are provided on how to guide partners toward healthy relationships by managing the impact of technology. Studying the current trends in technology to better understand modern relationships is critical to future social scientists and relationship helpers.


Romantic dissolution is a common experience throughout the life course, particularly during emerging adulthood (ages 18–29). The purpose of this review was to summarize and critique theoretical approaches and empirical findings of the aftermath of dating relationship dissolution.

Article searches were conducted within PsycINFO. We utilized terms related to romantic relationship dissolution (i.e., breakup, romantic breakup, relationship termination, relationship dissolution, romantic dissolution, romantic termination, post-dissolution) in a search for key words. We narrowed the results further by limiting the search to include participants between the ages of 18 and 29.

Experiencing romantic dissolution can result in both positive and negative emotional reactions and behaviors, including personal growth and self-expansion as well as experiencing physical and emotional abuse from ex-partners. Furthermore, former romantic partners commonly form other types of friendships and casual sexual relationships after the termination of committed romantic relationships. Many theoretical frameworks are used to guide these investigations, and some articles lack a theoretical framework.

Developmental Systems Theory might be a theoretical framework that best shapes our investigations of romantic dissolution in dating relationships that occur in emerging adulthood.

Relationship education programs would be enhanced by discussing the developmental needs that are important for young people and the ways in which their romantic experiences can or cannot meet those needs. In addition to learning about how to have healthy romantic relationships, young people can also benefit from learning how to identify when romantic relationships should end, and how to end them successfully.

Cover of Intimate Relationships and Social Change
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Book series
Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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