Probing The Truism: “Romantic Love Has Passion But Will Be Short-Lived, Companionate Love Will Give You Satisfaction And Will Last Long”: Effects of Love Types on Satisfaction, Longevity and Frequency of Sexual Contacts. Zoi Manesi, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Panos Kordoutis, Panteion University Greece 3 rd International Conference “Children And Youth In Changing Societies”. December 2010 1
The Triangular Theory of Love (R. J. Sternberg, 1986) The three components of love 1. Intimacy -the emotional investment- 2. Passion -the motivational involvement- 3. Decision/Commitment -the cognitive involvement- feelings of closeness and bondedness, sharing, warmth, reciprocal self-disclosure and emotional support between partners romance, psycho physiological arousal, sexual desire Additional needs such as those for self-esteem and selfactualization, nurturance, affiliation, dominance and submission are satisfied the short-term decision to love a certain other and the longterm commitment to maintain a faithful and conscious loving relationship with that partner 2
Sternberg’s Typology of Love Relationships Love Component Kind of Love Relationship Intimacy Passion Commitment Nonlove - - - Liking + - - Infatuated love - + - Empty love - - + Fatuous love - + + Romantic love + + - Companionate love + - + Consummate love + + + Note. - = low levels of this component; + = high levels of this component 3 Different component combinations give rise to 8 possible kinds of love
Relationship quality indicators: relationship satisfaction, longevity & sex frequency o The present empirical study investigates whether two of the most common, among young people, love types: Romantic and Companionate Love yielded satisfaction, relationship longevity, and affected frequency of sexual contacts 4
Relationship quality indicators: relationship satisfaction, longevity & sex frequency o Relationship Satisfaction n o Relationship Longevity n o relies on the perceived dominance of gratifying experiences over undesirable ones in the loving relationship. When rewarding interactions (affection, communication, emotional support, equity, etc) exceed unpleasant situations (arguments, conflicts, breaking up), relationship satisfaction is enhanced. is determined by driving forces that either encourage relationship maintenance (such as high satisfaction level) either deter one’s self from leaving a partner (such as high interdependence, emotional and time investment, common social network, vulnerability due to mutual confessions). Sex Frequency n is closely tied to sexual desire, which is affected both by 5 the age of the partners and by the age of their relationship.
Hypothesis & predictions o Type of love relationship will affect relationship quality (satisfaction, longevity and sexual frequency) Companionate love relationships will yield: 1. greater satisfaction 2. considerable relationship longevity The predominant importance of friendship (related to gratifying processes like affection, social support, communication) is easier to detect in companionate love, when intimacy is paired with commitment than in romantic love, when intimacy is paired with passion. Also, the prioritization of the loving relationship and the realism in expectations reduce the chance of undesirable experiences (arguments, etc). It is based on commitment processes (i. e. investment, interdependence) which are time-consuming and on progressive intimacy processes (like self-revelation). Romantic love relationships will enjoy: 1. more frequent sexual contacts Fantasy and irrational idealization (determinants of passion) enhance sexual 6 desire.
Method¹ Participants n n N=177, men=82, women=95 heterosexual undergraduate students mainly from Athens having at least one sexual relationship in past 12 months Age M=21. 79, SD=2. 24 Relationships and partners n n n 52% had an ongoing or “current” relationship Median relationship duration was 527 days Median frequency of sexual contacts was 1 -2 times a week 7
Method² Measures & Procedure Participants: o provided n n o their demographics their relationship’s basic profile (beginningend, duration, frequency of sex, partner’s gender, age and education) rated their relationship n on the 45 items for intimacy, passion and commitment of the “Triangular Love Scale” (Sternberg. 1988) –on a scale from 1(=does not describe it at all) to 9(=describes it absolutely) 8
Method³ o assessed their overall relationship satisfaction n using the 7 -statement Relationship Assessment Scale (Hendrick, Dicke, & Hendrick, 1998), rated on a 5 -point Likert scale with higher scores reflecting a greater degree of relationship satisfaction. Two items are reverse coded. 9
Results¹ Hypothesis testing 1. Multiple regression analysis (enter method) was performed in order to examine the substantive impact of the three components of love on relationship satisfaction, longevity and sex frequency v 2. Participants’ and partners’ gender, age and education, relationship duration, current or past relationship and sex frequency were included in the analysis as potential predictive factors A two-way ANOVA was carried out to determine the main and interaction effects of gender and relationship type on the three 10 indicators of relationship quality
Results² Table 1. Relationship Satisfaction Predictive Variables Β SE B β Gender . 02 . 07 . 01 Age . 02 . 04 Education . 04 . 05 . 03 Partner’s age -. 01 -. 04 Partner’s education . 03 . 04 Current or past relationship . 05 . 07 . 03 Relationship duration 7. 96 . 00 . 04 Sex frequency -. 04 . 02 -. 07 Intimacy . 28 . 04 . 52* Passion . 03 . 06 Decision/Commitment . 14 . 04 . 34* Note. *p<. 0001. R²=. 77, N=177, F (11, 165) =51. 16, p<. 0001. 11
Results³ Table 2. Relationship Longevity Predictive Variables Β SE B β Gender -16. 8 74. 54 -. 02 Age -5. 24 16. 7 -. 03 Education 1. 94 55. 85 . 00 . 67 8. 42 . 01 -4. 61 26. 85 -. 01 Current or past relationship -16. 65 76. 17 -. 02 Relationship satisfaction 37. 82 83. 02 . 07 Sex frequency -8. 08 25. 8 -. 03 Intimacy 18. 39 47. 49 . 06 Passion -70. 73 33. 28 -. 26* Decision/Commitment 93. 52 38. 66 . 44* Partner’s age Partner’s education Note. *p<. 05. R²=. 17, N=177, F (11, 157)=2. 88, p<. 01. 12
Results� Table 3. Frequency of sexual intercourse Predictive Variables Β SE B β Gender . 62 . 22 Age . 01 . 05 . 02 Education . 25 . 17 . 12 Partner’s age -. 03 -. 1 Partner’s education . 01 . 08 . 01 Current or past relationship . 34 . 23 . 12 Relationship satisfaction -. 56 . 25 -. 35* Relationship duration -7. 72 . 00 -. 02 Intimacy . 08 . 15 . 09 Passion -. 39 . 10 -. 45*** Decision/Commitment. 35. 12. 52** Note. *p<. 05. **p<. 01. ***p<. 0001. R²=. 21, N=177, F(11, 157)=3. 76, p<. 0001. 13
Results� Table 4. Means for the 3 relationship quality indicators Type of love according to Sternberg’s three dimensional theory of love Relationship quality Satisfaction Longevity Romantic love Companionate love M SD 3. 21 . 85 3. 88 . 70 417. 58 332. 35 690. 07 512. 70 2. 36 1. 09 3. 23 1. 79 (in number of days) Sex Frequency Note. Means in a row are significantly different. Lower means for sex frequency indicate higher frequency of sex. 14
Discussion¹ 82% of the relationships analyzed can be categorized into romantic and companionate love. In 64% of those relationships feelings of romantic love were aroused, indicating the vulnerability of young adults to romance. o o Relationship Type affected relationship quality Satisfaction: Companionate love evoked greater overall relationship satisfaction than romantic love. On the average, companionate lovers felt “very satisfied” with their relationship, while romantic lovers were “moderately satisfied”. Ø 1. • The intimacy component, coupled with commitment, played the largest part in satisfaction. 15
Discussion² Longevity: Companionate love was more durable than romantic love. The mean relationship duration was approximately two-fold longer in companionate love than in romantic love. 2. • Commitment to the partner played the primary role in relationship longevity. On the contrary, passion undermined relationship longevity and/or tended to fade over time. Sexual Frequency: Romantic lovers had sex more often (>2 times per week) than companionate lovers (1 -2 times per week). 3. • Passion was proven to be the major motivating factor frequent sexual intercourse. The levels of activity were also enhanced by relationship satisfaction. However, participants highly committed to their 16 relationship tended to enjoy sex less often.
Conclusion & limitations o It became apparent that both Romantic and Companionate love contribute to relationship quality. n n Ø Romantic Love -rooted in passion- heightens sex frequency. Despite the ephemeral nature of desire, romantic lovers enjoy sexual happiness. Companionate Love or the so-called “true love” -by the aid of intimacy- meet one’s deeper needs for affection resulting in greater satisfaction. At the same time relational exclusivity -promoted by commitment- enhances temporal continuity of the loving relationship. A longitudinal study, which will involve repeated observations of the same loving relationships over longer periods of time will examine the above conclusions. 17