Sex Roles

, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp 821–835 | Cite as

Loving and leaving: Sex differences in romantic attachments

  • Zick Rubin
  • Letitia Anne Peplau
  • Charles T. Hill
Article

Abstract

We propose a two-part generalization about sex differences in entering into and giving up romantic attachments: (1) Men tend to fall in love more readily than women; (2) women tend to fall out of love more readily than men. Evidence in support of these generalizations is derived from a longitudinal study of 231 college student dating couples. The data suggest that women are more cautious than men about entering into romantic relationships, more likely to compare these relationships to alternatives, more likely to end a relationship that seems ill fated, and better able to cope with rejection. We consider several possible explanations of these sex differences from the standpoints of psychoanalytic theory, the social and economic context of mate selection, and the socialization of men and women in the management of their own emotions. To evaluate these (and any other) explanations, further research might profitably investigate whether and to what degree these sex differences are found in other segments of the population.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barash, D. P. Sociobiology and behavior. New York: Elsevier, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. Blau, P. M. Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley, 1964.Google Scholar
  3. Burgess, E. W., & Wallin, P. Engagement and marriage. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1953.Google Scholar
  4. Chodorow, N. Oedipal asymmetries and heterosexual knots. Social Problems, 1976, 23, 454–468.Google Scholar
  5. Coombs, R. H., & Kenkel, W. F. Sex differences in dating aspirations and satisfaction with computer-selected partners. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1966, 28, 62–66.Google Scholar
  6. Davis, M. S. Intimate relations. New York: Free Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  7. Goethals, G. W. Symbiosis and the life cycle. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1973, 46, 91–96.Google Scholar
  8. Hall, J. A. Gender effects in decoding nonverbal clues. Psychological Bulletin, 1978, 85, 845–857.Google Scholar
  9. Hill, C. T. The ending of successive opposite-sex relationships. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, 1974.Google Scholar
  10. Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. Breakups before marriage: The end of 103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 1976, 32(1), 147–168.Google Scholar
  11. Hobart, C. W. The incidence of romanticism during courtship. Social Forces, 1958, 36, 362–367.Google Scholar
  12. Hoffman, M. L. Sex differences in empathy and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 1977, 84, 712–722.Google Scholar
  13. Knox, D. H., Jr., & Sporakowski, M. J. Attitudes of college students toward love. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1968, 30, 638–642.Google Scholar
  14. Parsons, T., & Bales, R. F. Family, socialization, and interaction processes. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1955.Google Scholar
  15. Rubin, L. B. Worlds of pain: Life in the working-class family. New York: Basic Books, 1976.Google Scholar
  16. Rubin, Z. The social psychology of romantic love. Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, 1969.Google Scholar
  17. Rubin, Z. Measurement of romantic love. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1970, 16, 265–273.Google Scholar
  18. Rubin, Z., & Mitchell, C. Couples research as couples counseling: Some unintended effects of studying close relationships. American Psychologist, 1976, 31, 17–25.Google Scholar
  19. Waller, W. The family: A dynamic interpretation. New York: Dryden, 1938.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zick Rubin
    • 1
  • Letitia Anne Peplau
    • 2
  • Charles T. Hill
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrandeis UniversityWaltham
  2. 2.University of California — Los AngelesUSA
  3. 3.University of WashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations