The Dark Side of Heterosexual Romance: Endorsement of Romantic Beliefs Relates to Intimate Partner Violence

Abstract

Romance and control are often conflated by the media, and individuals may believe that certain controlling or jealous behaviors by men toward women are romantic and can be a sign of love and commitment in heterosexual relationships. The current study explored three types of romantic beliefs among women: endorsement of the ideology of romanticism, highly valuing romantic relationships, and the belief that jealousy is good. The goal was to determine whether these beliefs would be related to finding controlling behaviors romantic as well as to reported experiences of both physical and psychological intimate partner violence (IPV). We surveyed 275 heterosexual-identified women, aged 18 to 50, and measured their endorsement of romantic beliefs, the extent to which they romanticized controlling behavior, and experiences of physical and psychological abuse within their current or most recent romantic relationship. Romantic beliefs were related to romanticizing controlling behaviors, which, in turn, was related to experiences of IPV. There was also a significant indirect relationship between romantic beliefs and experiences of IPV. The data indicate that seemingly positive romantic ideologies can have insidious negative effects. Findings may be useful for clinicians and those who advocate for prevention of IPV as they illustrate a need to refocus traditional ideas of healthy relationships at the societal level.

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Papp, L.J., Liss, M., Erchull, M.J. et al. The Dark Side of Heterosexual Romance: Endorsement of Romantic Beliefs Relates to Intimate Partner Violence. Sex Roles 76, 99–109 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0668-0

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Keywords

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Jealousy
  • Romantic beliefs
  • Mate-retention behaviors
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse