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Conflicts In Romantic Relationships

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CONFLICT IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS

As long as people have gotten romantically involved with one another, there has been conflict within those relationships. Some people argue that conflict is bad for the relationship and will ultimately lead to the demise of that relationship. Others argue that the conflict is good for the relationship and will help it to flourish. Conflict can be both positive and negative for a relationship. It can both help and hinder the relationship. No matter what stage the relationship is in and whether or not the relationship is being helped or hurt, conflict is always happening in different contexts. Conflict is also caused by numerous reasons. These reasons include a lack of interpersonal communication skills, low levels of trust, physical abuse, an individual's past history in relationships, and many others.

Not many people in the world can say that they have had a 100% successful romantic relationship. Looking at the high divorce rate in the United States can prove this. However, there are those couples that have remained together for numerous years. As I am sure that conflict played a big part in ending a large number of relationships, I am also sure that the successful relationships have had their fair share of conflict and have even been helped by that conflict. In this paper, I have constructed nine propositions relating conflict to certain behaviors within romantic relationships. Each one will be defined, summarized, and supported according to the available research.

P1- Women that have been abused in the past are more likely to remain in an abusive relationship.

Unfortunately, thousands of women are abused everyday in the United States. This abuse can be physical, verbal, or psychological. Women, by nature, seem to hold a higher sense of personal worth when involved in a relationship. From birth, women are taught by society to conform to certain expectations and definitions of what it means to be a female. Growing up, women always here phrases such as "That's not lady like" or "You should be treated like a lady". What does it mean to be a lady? According to most societies, it means that women are the weaker sex and are always in need of a man to take care of them. Men are taught, from birth, what it means to be a man. This definition is usually one of dominance and control. This is shown in phrases such as "I am the man of the house".

When a woman is abused earlier in life she is trained in that frame of mind that women are the conformists and men are the dictators. "Violence by men is a major component of the larger social hierarchy of gender." (Woods, 1999, p. 481). The abuse in these relationships usually instills feelings of inferiority, which goes along with their societal learning from childhood. Not only does this abuse give feelings of inferiority but also feelings of shame which lead to a sense of obligation to conserve the relationship to the best of her ability. According to a study done by K.M.Landenburger (1988), most women in these instances gave up on themselves before they gave up on their partners. If giving up on themselves, the logical conclusion is that they will eventually see the abuse as a social norm and will expect that in future relationships, thus repeating the cycle over and over again.

P2- Women who have had more sexual partners increase their likelihood of abuse in a romantic relationship.

Again, in this proposition, abuse is defined as physical, verbal, or psychological. As in any situation, the more exposure that a person has to a certain element, the more risk is involved pertaining to that element. In this case, women who have more sexual partners are exposing themselves to a greater risk factor of being intimate with that one that will engage in some sort of abusive behavior. With the increased exposure to a number of intimate partners, there comes a decreased sense of control for the women involved in these relationships. (Neufeld, McNamara, Ertl, 1999). When a person loses their sense of control, they become vulnerable and susceptible to incidence of abuse.

According to the Abusive Behavior Inventory, (Shephard and Campbell, 1992 shown in Neufield, McNamara, Ertl 1999) the instance of abuse with a high number of partners went up significannot

ly in all aspects of the definition. However it seemed that the highest level of abuse occurred psychologically. The ABI also indicated that 5% of undergraduate females had over seven sexual partners in a six-month period. This group showed the highest incidence of abuse within those relationships. It seems to me that any people who expose themselves to a high number such as this are going to put themselves in a situation where the abuse would be expected, to an outside observer.

P3- High levels of insecurity cause high levels of dependency on romantic relationships.

Dependency is defined as the reliance of an individual on another person for the satisfaction of his/her needs. (Attridge, Berscheid, & Sprecher, 1998). In this case, insecurity can be defined as relational meaning a person will have doubts and uncertainties about the relationship that he/she is in. Insecurity is a sign that a person is lacking a perceived need in their life. Insecurity would then be the counterpart of dependency as w person would be lacking something therefore depending on something else. This is explained as "Theory views the degree to which a person is dependent on a specific relationship as a function, not only of the number and importance of the needs the relationship currently satisfies for the individual, but also as a function of the extent to which those needs cannot be satisfied by alternative means." (Attridge, Berscheid, & Sprecher, 1998, p. 33). When a person believes both that a relationship fills specific needs and that there are a lack of alternatives to fulfilling those needs a greater level of dependence is going to occur.

Different factors that may lead to insecurity include the appearance of another person that the partner appears to have an attraction to, or a perceived lack of interest from the partner. Whatever the cause for the insecurity, it seems to always lead to a further dependence on that relationship. The reason for this is a fear of losing the relationship, therefore resulting in a further need for the counterpart to preserve the relationship.

P4- Women are more likely than men to want a higher level of closeness

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