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New Perspectives on Intimate Relationships and Singlehood

New Perspectives on Intimate Relationships and Singlehood
New Perspectives on Intimate Relationships and Singlehood
Motivated by the wide changes in partnership and sexual behaviours which started in the 1970s in Europe, this thesis explores the satisfaction with intimate life of those partnered and unpartnered in Britain and Germany. Drawing on theoretical concepts and literature from demography, psychology,
gerontology, sociology, and sex research, this three-paper thesis examines relationship quality in different types of partnership, the link between relationship quality and transitions from living apart together to either a coresidential partnership or separation, and the satisfaction with not being in an intimate relationship among singles. In order to investigate these aspects, it adopts a
quantitative approach by using a variety of regression models.
The first paper uses rich data from the British National Study of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) to shed light on how sexual intimacy and relationship happiness differ in married, cohabiting, and living-apart together relationships. The findings from proportional odds models show that living apart together couples report higher sexual compatibility with their partner than
coresidential couples. However, they are, overall, less happy in their relationships than coresidential couples. This paper highlights the differences in the evaluations of sexual intimacy and relationship happiness among men and women and how this depends on their relationship type. The
second and third papers focus on Germany and use data from the German Family Panel (pairfam). The second paper examines the association between relationship satisfaction and living apart together relationship transitions into coresidence or separation. It considers relationship satisfaction as an umbrella concept, where sexual satisfaction, couple’s conflict frequency, and self-disclosure are specific indicators under this umbrella. The results from competing risk event- history models show that a living apart together couple’s decision to separate is related to lower levels of relationship and sexual satisfaction, disclosing less to a partner, and having more conflicts with a partner. The decision to move in together is related to higher levels of relationship satisfaction, but this association is attenuated by self-disclosure and conflicts. The third paper explores how singles’ past intimate relationships and satisfaction with and frequency of contacting social networks relate to their satisfaction with being single. This paper points to the heterogeneity among singles and discusses potential selection effects into being lifelong single. The results from linear regression models underline the complex role of friends and family in singles’ lives and suggest that past intimate relationships are of little importance in explaining singles’ satisfaction with not having an intimate partner.
In conclusion, this thesis underlines the need to adopt a wider view in investigating the changing nature of partnerships by considering a greater variety of aspects of the intimate lives not only of those partnered but also of those who are single. This can be done by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to develop new conceptual frameworks and to collect new data on peoples’ satisfaction with intimate life. The thesis suggests that family demographers need to design new surveys, asking about past and present casual sexual relationships, living apart
together relationships but also about not having had any partner, moving thus beyond coresidential relationship histories. Peoples’ lifestyles are rapidly changing and we need to understand more about the implications of different relationship histories on individuals’ life- courses. Additionally, to broaden the understanding of intimate relationships of those partnered and single,
this thesis advises family demographers to consider the indicator of the overall satisfaction with (not having) a relationship as a multidimensional concept, with positive, negative, and sexual dimensions.
University of Southampton
Ciritel, Alexandra-Andreea
487185cb-aebe-453f-af19-2a5b13bc0083
Ciritel, Alexandra-Andreea
487185cb-aebe-453f-af19-2a5b13bc0083
Berrington, Ann
bd0fc093-310d-4236-8126-ca0c7eb9ddde

Ciritel, Alexandra-Andreea (2020) New Perspectives on Intimate Relationships and Singlehood. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Motivated by the wide changes in partnership and sexual behaviours which started in the 1970s in Europe, this thesis explores the satisfaction with intimate life of those partnered and unpartnered in Britain and Germany. Drawing on theoretical concepts and literature from demography, psychology,
gerontology, sociology, and sex research, this three-paper thesis examines relationship quality in different types of partnership, the link between relationship quality and transitions from living apart together to either a coresidential partnership or separation, and the satisfaction with not being in an intimate relationship among singles. In order to investigate these aspects, it adopts a
quantitative approach by using a variety of regression models.
The first paper uses rich data from the British National Study of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) to shed light on how sexual intimacy and relationship happiness differ in married, cohabiting, and living-apart together relationships. The findings from proportional odds models show that living apart together couples report higher sexual compatibility with their partner than
coresidential couples. However, they are, overall, less happy in their relationships than coresidential couples. This paper highlights the differences in the evaluations of sexual intimacy and relationship happiness among men and women and how this depends on their relationship type. The
second and third papers focus on Germany and use data from the German Family Panel (pairfam). The second paper examines the association between relationship satisfaction and living apart together relationship transitions into coresidence or separation. It considers relationship satisfaction as an umbrella concept, where sexual satisfaction, couple’s conflict frequency, and self-disclosure are specific indicators under this umbrella. The results from competing risk event- history models show that a living apart together couple’s decision to separate is related to lower levels of relationship and sexual satisfaction, disclosing less to a partner, and having more conflicts with a partner. The decision to move in together is related to higher levels of relationship satisfaction, but this association is attenuated by self-disclosure and conflicts. The third paper explores how singles’ past intimate relationships and satisfaction with and frequency of contacting social networks relate to their satisfaction with being single. This paper points to the heterogeneity among singles and discusses potential selection effects into being lifelong single. The results from linear regression models underline the complex role of friends and family in singles’ lives and suggest that past intimate relationships are of little importance in explaining singles’ satisfaction with not having an intimate partner.
In conclusion, this thesis underlines the need to adopt a wider view in investigating the changing nature of partnerships by considering a greater variety of aspects of the intimate lives not only of those partnered but also of those who are single. This can be done by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to develop new conceptual frameworks and to collect new data on peoples’ satisfaction with intimate life. The thesis suggests that family demographers need to design new surveys, asking about past and present casual sexual relationships, living apart
together relationships but also about not having had any partner, moving thus beyond coresidential relationship histories. Peoples’ lifestyles are rapidly changing and we need to understand more about the implications of different relationship histories on individuals’ life- courses. Additionally, to broaden the understanding of intimate relationships of those partnered and single,
this thesis advises family demographers to consider the indicator of the overall satisfaction with (not having) a relationship as a multidimensional concept, with positive, negative, and sexual dimensions.

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Published date: 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451415
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451415
PURE UUID: 3d29e111-672a-488a-a873-d06aa30ea4b5
ORCID for Ann Berrington: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1683-6668

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Sep 2021 16:35
Last modified: 14 Dec 2021 05:01

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Contributors

Author: Alexandra-Andreea Ciritel
Thesis advisor: Ann Berrington ORCID iD

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