Sex Roles

, Volume 31, Issue 5–6, pp 275–295 | Cite as

Who's on top? Power in romantic relationships

  • Diane H. Felmlee


Power balances are investigated in a sample of 413 heterosexual dating individuals (86% white, 9.7% black, 4.3% other ethnicities). Less than half the respondents perceive their relationships to be equal in the distribution of power, and men are over twice as likely as women to be viewed as the partners having more power. Imbalances are also evident in three related measures—decision-making, emotional involvement, and equity. A higher proportion of both women and men say that the male partner, rather than the female partner, made more of the decisions, was less emotionally involved, and in general was “getting a better deal.” Finally, male dominance, but not equality of power between the genders, is associated with greater romantic relationship longevity. More specifically, the higher the relative degree of power attributed by respondents to the male, rather than the female, partner of a dyad, the lower is the subsequent rate of relationship dissolution.


Social Psychology Male Partner Romantic Relationship Good Deal Related Measure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane H. Felmlee
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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