When Courtship Persistence Becomes Intrusive Pursuit: Comparing Rejecter and Pursuer Perspectives of Unrequited Attraction

Abstract

Two hundred forty-one undergraduates described their experiences with unrequited love, both as pursuers (actors) and love interests (targets). As expected, targets and actors perspectives differed. As targets, participants reported being on the receiving end of more unwanted courtship tactics, violent and nonviolent, than they reported using as pursuers. Further, participants in the actor role—particularly men—tended to overreport receiving signals that their love interest was reciprocating, and to underreport receiving rejections. Meanwhile, targets—particularly women—claimed numerous attempts to reject, including explicitly stating “I am definitely not interested in you,” and indicated minimal positive reactions to the unwanted pursuit. Implications of these differences, and others, in perspectives for understanding difficulties in differentiating persistence from stalking are discussed.

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Correspondence to Irene Hanson Frieze.

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Sinclair, H.C., Frieze, I.H. When Courtship Persistence Becomes Intrusive Pursuit: Comparing Rejecter and Pursuer Perspectives of Unrequited Attraction. Sex Roles 52, 839–852 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-4203-4

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Keywords

  • courtship persistence
  • unrequited love
  • stalking
  • rejection
  • and comparing accounts