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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
HASSEN, J. L. (1999). How Do I Love Thee: the Maintenance of Relationships. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

How Do I Love Thee: the Maintenance of Relationships

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Finding someone to share your life with and experiencing real love are two of the most sought out factors in life. People have the desire to be wanted, needed, and cared for unconditionally by another human being. This aspiration leads people to become involved in intimate relationships. Not all relationships live up to one`s expectations. They sometimes die out before they have the opportunity to grow into something long-lived and permanent. One of the most frequently asked questions about relationships are "What went wrong in my relationship?" There is no easy answer to this question, but I wanted to explore some of the possible solutions. An experiment was conducted to examine a few of the reasons people`s relationships don`t work out. In this study, 20 subjects participated in a two- page study that probed into the status of their current and previous relationships. There were a number of variables questioned within the questionnaire. Those that did not show significance in the study were their initial/ current attraction, whether or not it was a long distance relationship, if they were married or not. The variables that played a very important part in the maintenance or diminish of their relationships were level of communication, trust level, faithfulness, and whether or not they were friends before they became involved. This study could be very useful in finding the reasons people`s relationships aren`t lasting like they did years ago. For future studies, there should be specific instructions for the completion of the survey and it should be given to a broader group of subjects (as far as age, sex, and marital status).

IntroductionSternberg and Grajek (as cited by Arnold & Thompson, 1996) noted that "Love can be among the most intense of human emotions, and is certainly one of the most sought after. People have been known to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill in its name, yet no one knows quite what it is." When talking about relationships, the word love may be used to describe the feeling someone has towards another. Love has different meanings to different people. Some people believe there is a difference in loving someone and being in love with someone. Whether or not there is a difference, many forms of love result from three components: intimacy, passion and commitment (Meyers & Berscheid, 1997). Positive affective experiences, intimacy, and caring are noted as being qualities of love and these features generally associated with passionate love seem to be unessential. There are six types of love styles: A: ) eros- romantic and passionate love, B: ) ludus- game playing love, C: ) storge- friendship love, D: ) mania-combination of ludus and eros, E: ) pragma- combination of storge and ludus, and F: ) agape- combination of eros and storge (Arnold & Thompson, 1996). Within these categories, mania and agape tend to be highly related. Mania lovers are somewhat delusional and obessional while agape lovers put their partners before anything and everyone else. Ludus lovers can be very destructive and cruel.There has been controversy over whether or not lovers become so co-dependent on each other that their love is dysfunctional. This can be very unhealthy in a relationship. Attraction plays a very important role in relationships. You are more likely to enter into a relationship with someone who you are attracted to. In response-fascilitation theory (Campbell, Foster, Green, & Witcher, 1998) it is proposed that: A: ) liking is the dominant response to a person of the same sex, B: ) romantic attraction is the dominant response toward a potential date who is good looking, and C: ) aversion is the dominant response to a potential date who is unattractive. This statement implies that people generally like others as friends who are the same sex, are attracted to people who are good looking, and unpleasant towards people who aren`t easy on their eyes. In this day and age, this is not necessarily true.Commitment is an important essential when it comes to partners` beliefs about whether or not their relationship will endure. It can be defined as a pledging or binding of one person to another (Hughes & Surra, 1997). Commitment can be affected by moral obligations, partners` attitude toward the relationship, and structual constraints (such as investments in the relationship or alternatives available to the relationship). This simple component of a relationship can make it stronger or cause it to fall apart.How does one deal with the loss of a mate? Women have been stereotyped as being the emotional sex when it comes to close relationships, yet there is growing research that would support the notion that men are just as sentimental when it comes to breaking up. Some psychologists contend that women should feel more anxiety, guilt, anger, and sadness than men after a break-up. Most researchers argue, though, that men suffer the most from a romantic break-up (Choo, Hatfield, & Levine, 1996). It has been said that men have more emotional and practical needs met in close relationships than women do. When looking for a reason for the loss, women tend to blame themselves (as far as appearance, social skills, and their personality) while men accuse their partners of being lazy, abusing drugs, or being emotionally unstable. What I hope to find are reasons why relationships last or do not last. I am interested in how some people manage to make their relationships last over a long period of time compared to those whom were involved in relationships that did not work out.

MethodParticipantsThe subjects I chose to utilize for my study are students from the Peer Counseling class which meets on every Tuesday and Thursday at Missouri Western State College. My goal was to find a class that was diverse in age, sex and marital status. In order to receive good data, I needed a sufficient amount of students who are currently in relationships as well as some who are not in relationships at this time.Procedure I examined several areas within relationships: A: ) the initial or current attraction the subject felt towards their companion, B: ) Whether or not communication between the subject and their mate is/was good or bad, C: ) the level of trust between the subject and their mate, D: ) Is or was there faithfulness within the relationship, E: ) Whether or not the subject and their mate friends before they became involved, F: ) Whether or not the subject and their mate were involved in a long-distance relationship, and G: ) Did/does the subject believe that the relationship will or would last. Once I collected all of my data, I compared the results from the participants whom are currently in relationships to those of subjects who are not. I also made a comparison between the current relationship people are in to their previous relationship. I wanted to examine and demonstrate the effects that distance, time, and the level of commitment have on the outcome of relationships. In order to achieve my data, I used a two-part questionnaire that acquired information about both current and previous relationship status and conditions.MaterialsIn order to acquire the data that I needed to analyze for my experiment, I created a two-part questionnaire for my subjects to complete. The first section of my questionnaire was composed of questions to be answered by participants who are currently involved in a relationship. The second section of my questionnaire primarily pertained to those participants who are not currently involved in a relationship, but was also answered by the subjects who are currently involved. My questionnaire was designed to collect data from both sets of participants in order to achieve two things: How people who are currently in relationships view their current and past relationships as well as how subjects who were previously involved view the relationship that has ended.

ResultsStatisticsIn order to achieve statistical data on my experiment, I utilized a paired T-test which compared current relationships to past relationships. I also applied the Pearson correlation method to compare every possible combination of dependent variables. I began my questionnaire by providing the subjects with an operational definition of a relationship. This submitted them with a protocol in which they were able to answer the questions.I found that the data for initial attraction (t (9)= .361, p=.726), long distance relationships (t (9)=-.429, p=.678), and marital status (t (9)=1.00, p= .343) had no significant difference between past and present relationships. Initial attraction seemed to be the same for past and present relationships. In many of the current and previous relationships, long distance was not a factor. Also, most of the subjects have not been married at all. There were significant differences, however, in the communication level (t (9)=-4.00, p=.003), trust level (t (9)= -6.71, p=.000), friendship level prior to intimate relationships (t (9)=-2.25, p=.051), and the confidence level in the relationship (t (9)=-3.00, p= .015) between people`s current and previous relationships. Subjects communication level was higher in their current relationships than their previous ones. There is more trust in current partners than there is past partners. There were more instances of people who are currently involved being close friends with their partners before their intimate relationship than there were for people`s previous relationships. More people presently involved have more confidence in their relationships now compared to their previous involvement and those who are no longer in relationships.

Discussion The study I conducted shows that communication, trust, friendship level, and confidence in a relationship all play important roles in past and present relationships whereas initial attraction, marital status, and distance did not. This experiment demonstrated many of the beliefs that people already have, but may not know apply to them. This experiment could be useful to couples who want to work on their troubled partnership. It would allow them to attain information on what it really takes to maintain a healthy, long lasting relationship. There are a few adjustments I feel should be made for this experiment. The first area I would change would be the instructions for the questionnaire. I found that many people did not understand what was asked of them. A number of the subjects who are currently involved believed they were to answer the first page of the survey. The participants of this study who are involved at the present moment were to discuss their current as well as their previous in order for me to do a comparison on both experiences. I realize that I was not clear about my requests in my directions for the completion of my survey. I would elaborate more and give distinct, precise instructions for future references. The most important thing I feel would improve this experiment would be collecting more data. More subjects would only enhance the findings, thus helping with validity. I would also try to survey a more diverse group of participants. For the purpose of this particular experiment, it would be better to collect more data from males, people who were married, and from a broader age group. These factors would strengthen the findings of such an exceptional experiment.

ReferencesArnold, M.E., Thompson, B. (1996). Love style perceptions in relation to personality function. Journal of Social Behavior and personality, 11, 425-438.

Choo, P., Levine, T., Hatfield, E. (1996). Gender, love schemas and the reactions to romantic break-ups. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 11, 143-160.

Foster, C. A., Witcher, B.S., Campbell, W.K., Green, J.D. (1998). Arousal and attraction: evidence for automatic and controlled processes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 86-101.

Meyers, S.A., Berscheid, E. (1997). The language of love: the difference a preposition makes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 347.

Surra, C.A., Hughes, D.K. (1997). Commitment processes in accounts of the development of premarital relationships. Journal of Marriage and Famliy, 59, 5-21.


Submitted 5/3/99 3:05:56 PM
Last Edited 5/3/99 3:28:36 PM
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