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Psychologists Examine How “Myths of Romantic Love” Vary According to Sexual Orientation and Relationship Type

Article By Eric W. Dolan

~ October 2021 ~ A team of psychologist have developed a new instrument that assesses the assumptions that people make about romantic relationships and experiencing love. Their work has been published in Frontiers in Sociology.

“We are interested in this topic because the phenomenon of sex affectivity is present in our daily lives regardless of our sex, sexual orientation or type of relationship,” said study author Alejandro Sánchez-Sicilia of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

“Most of the scientific literature on love and more specifically, on romantic love, has focused its studies on the differences between heterosexual men and women in monogamous relationships, without taking into account the diversity of sexual orientations and the new consensually non-monogamous ways of relating. This is why this work arose in order to respond to this ignored diversity.”

For their study, the researchers conducted an online survey with a sample of 1,235 Spanish-speaking individuals. Most participants (60.7%) identified as heterosexual, while 24% identified as bisexual, 9.5% identified as homosexual, and 5.8% stated that they did not feel represented by any of these categories. Most participants (59.4%) also reported being monogamous, while 33.1% reported being consensually non-monogamous, 6.1% reported not having maintained any type of relationship, and 1.3% reported having an “unclassifiable” types of relationship.

The participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess what the researchers called “myths of romantic love.” For example, the participants indicated the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “Affective sexual relationships must always be composed of two people” and “To be jealous is an indicator of true love.”

The researchers found that the myths of romantic love were comprised of two dimensions: the belief that relationships require exclusiveness and the belief that one’s relationship partner is their “better half.” The latter concept is characterized by agreement with statements such as “Somewhere there are people who are predestined to be with others” and “You can be ‘complete’ without having an affective sexual relationship.”

Sánchez-Sicilia and his team also found that monogamous participants and those who have never maintained a romantic relationship were more likely to endorse the myths of romantic love compared to consensually non-monogamous individuals. Those who identified as bisexual and/or with other types of orientations were less likely to endorse the myths of romantic love compared to heterosexual and homosexual participants.

Sánchez-Sicilia hopes the findings will encourage people to be more “aware of the wide diversity that encompasses the sex-affective phenomenon, and how the mandates of romantic love are interpreted and assumed in different ways within this diversity.” Future research should “recognize that continuing to reproduce old models in the study of romantic love provides a reductionist and isolated vision of reality,” he added.

The study, “Assumption of the Myths of Romantic Love: Its Relationship With Sex, Type of Sex-Affective Relationship, and Sexual Orientation“, was authored by Jenny Cubells-Serra, Alejandro Sánchez-Sicilia, Priscila Astudillo-Mendoza, Neli Escandón-Nagel, and María José Baeza-Rivera.

A version of this article originally appeared here on psypost.org

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