The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage

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Edited by: Pamela C. Regan

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    This book is respectfully dedicated to my family and friends, who have taught me about love, and to my teachers—particularly Ellen Berscheid, Saul Kassin, Peter Murphy, Stephen Fix, Elizabeth Estill, and Ron Norton—who have taught me to love learning. Thank you.

    Copyright

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    Preface

    Is She ‘The One’?” (Men's Health)

    The Body Language of Lust” (Cosmopolitan)

    What Not to Say on a First Date!” (Black Men)

    The Hidden Ways He Says ‘I Love You’” (Redbook)

    What Everyone Else Is Really Doing in Bed” (Cosmopolitan)

    Love vs. Lust: How You'll Know the Difference” (Woman's Own)

    How to Stop Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back” (Woman's Own)

    Signs He Wants to Be Your Boyfriend” (CosmoGIRL!)

    The Art of a Perfect Relationship” (Mademoiselle)

    Should You Live Together?” (Women's Health)

    Make Your Ex Want You Back” (Seventeen)

    The Seven Deadly Sins of Dating” (Playgirl)

    The Art of Seduction” (Vogue)

    These quotations, taken from the headlines of several contemporary men's and women's magazines, underscore the deep interest (and even fascination) with which many of us approach topics of love, sex, and romance. And our interest is certainly justified. The intimate connections that we establish with other people, whether for a few moments or for a lifetime, affect our emotional and physical well-being and even the survival of our species. Without love and sex—without mating and pair bonding and reproduction—we would feel empty, isolated, and lonely; our societies would wither; and humankind would literally perish.

    My goal in writing this book is to bring together in one text past and present theory, supposition, and knowledge about human mating relationships. The first section of the text focuses on mate selection and marriage. We begin with an examination of theoretical frameworks for understanding human mating, and we consider research on men's and women's mate preferences. We then explore the early stages of romantic relationship formation with a particular focus on attraction, flirting, and courtship. Theories of relationship development are discussed, along with research on mate choice and marriage, conflict and dissolution, and therapeutic interventions for distressed relationships. The next two sections of the text focus on two important aspects of mating relationships—love and sexuality. First, we consider the topic of love, beginning with an exploration of theoretical discourse (and empirical investigation) into the nature of love. Special attention is given to the two love types that have received the most scrutiny from social and behavioral scientists: passionate and companionate love. The section ends with a consideration of problematic aspects of love relationships, including unrequited love, obsession and relational stalking, mismatched love styles, and loss of passion. The third section of the text explores relational sexuality. We examine men's and women's beliefs and attitudes about the role of sex in dating and marital relationships, and we consider sexuality—frequency, preferences, and practices—in beginning and established relationships. Problematic aspects of relational sexuality are considered, including sexual aggression, sexual dissatisfaction, sexual infidelity, and sexual jealousy. The final section summarizes what is currently known about individual differences in relationship orientation. We consider how maleness and femaleness, global personality traits, and interpersonal belief systems may influence a person's romantic opportunities, behaviors, and outcomes.

    What's New in this Edition?

    This second edition differs from the first in a number of ways:

    The text has been reorganized to provide a smoother transition between the major sections. Theory and research on mating relationships are presented first, followed by a discussion of two of the most important components of mating relationships: love and sexuality.

    Each chapter has been updated to reflect the most recent theoretical and empirical work in the area.

    Part I (Mating Relationships) has been reorganized and significantly expanded. Chapter 2 (Attraction and Courtship) includes additional research on flirting and communicating romantic interest and presents new information on the phenomenon of “cyber-flirting” and the development of romantic relationships over the Internet. Chapter 4 (Marriage and Mate Selection) includes an expanded discussion of types of marriage (including love-based and arranged marriages) and the factors implicated in marital satisfaction, as well as new work on cohabitation and same-sex marriage. In addition, a new chapter (Chapter 6: Intervention) has been added that explores the various methods that have been developed to help couples in distressed relationships.

    Chapter 8 (Passionate and Companionate Love) now includes a discussion of cutting-edge research on the biochemistry of passion and affection. We consider current knowledge about the association between these two important types of love and pheromones, sex hormones, and brain activity.

    Chapter 11 (Sex in Beginning Relationships) contains an expanded discussion of the various sexual characteristics that play an important role in the attraction process, including a consideration of facial and bodily features that are associated with “sex appeal” and an entirely new section on sexual passion.

    Chapter 13 (Sex Gone Bad: Problematic Aspects of Relational Sex) has been expanded to include a discussion of the consequences of sexual aggression, additional research on sexual infidelity, and a brand new section on sexual jealousy, including an examination of the ongoing debate about the origins of sex differences in this powerful psychological response.

    In addition, the second edition remains highly “reader friendly.” Each chapter includes a detailed outline that serves to guide readers through the material, and I provide a list of key concepts (with page references) to assist readers in identifying and comprehending important terms, theories, and findings. Each chapter also presents readers with a set of recommended readings and discussion questions that are designed to spark debate and discussion about the chapter content. Most, if not all, of these essential pedagogical elements are missing from current texts in this area; I hope that their inclusion will promote active learning and enhance readers’ educational experience.

    Love, sexuality, and mate selection are fundamental human experiences that only relatively recently have begun to receive scientific attention. I believe that the comprehensive review and up-to-date information contained in this text will not only provide answers to questions about these important life events but also encourage readers’ interest in the diverse and multidisciplinary field of interpersonal relationships and human mating.

    Acknowledgments

    Sage Publications would like to acknowledge Developmental Editor Liz Clayton Sugarman, as well as the following reviewers:

    • Lori Barker
    • California State University, Pomona
    • Keith Davis
    • University of South Carolina
    • Brian R. Johnson
    • California State University, Pomona
    • Janine Minkler
    • Northern Arizona University
    • David P. Schmitt
    • Bradley University
    • Sue Sprecher
    • Illinois State University
    • Joe Ventimigli
    • University of Memphis
    • Ron Wallace
    • University of Central Florida
  • Concluding Remarks

    What does it mean to be in love with someone? How long does love last? What characteristics make someone desirable as a mate? What role does sex play in love and love relationships? What variables influence whether marriages and other romantic relationships endure or dissolve? How can people effectively resolve conflict and other difficulties that may arise in their intimate relationships? My purpose in writing this text was to address these questions (and, I hope, to provide some answers to them) by considering theories of mate selection, relationship development, love, and relational sexuality and by reviewing empirical research on these interlinked life experiences.

    We have seen that romantic relationships provide people with the opportunity to experience a panoply of positive and affirming events—passion and joy, affection and trust, desire and sexual expression. We have also seen how they can be a source of unhappiness and torment, ranging from incompatibility and dissatisfaction to obsession, coercion, jealousy, and sometimes even violence. Whatever their outcomes, and regardless of the form they take, the mating relationships that we form with others clearly have profound implications for the quality of our lives. I hope that this text has shed some small light on these important and fascinating human experiences.

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    Author Index

    About the Author

    Pamela Regan is Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota and her undergraduate degree in English from Williams College. Her research interests are in the areas of close relationships and human sexuality, with an emphasis on passionate love, sexual desire, and mate preference. She has published more than 80 journal articles, book chapters, and reviews (and has given over 75 professional presentations) on the dynamics of sex, love, and human mating, and she is the co-author (with Ellen Berscheid) of The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships (Pearson, 2005) and Lust: What We Know About Human Sexual Desire (Sage, 1999). In 2007, she was honored with the Outstanding Professor Award by her university for excellence in instruction and professional achievement.


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