"Just knowing you found the person that you're ready to spend your life with": love, romance and intimate relationships

SOURCE: Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Rule-Groenewald
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7880
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2830
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/2830

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It is widely argued that men and women have different understandings and expressions of love and romance. Love and romance are often thought of as something women have more investment in (Allen, 2007). The part played by love and romance in heterosexual relationships has been largely ignored and eclipsed by the concern with the pervasiveness of gender abuse in much contemporary research on gender and sexuality. This Focus presents data on adult men and women's perspectives of love and romance in contemporary South Africa. It draws on narratives from interviews conducted in the Western Cape with a small group of men and women. In the study, love was perceived as the emotion, romance was seen as the expression of love. Pavlou's (2009) research on love among South Africans demonstrates how subjective meanings attached to love are distinguishable as falling into different love-styles. In the discourses of love that emerged in the narratives the experience of love allowed both women and men to (re)produce alternative and largely positive self-perceptions and relational love-styles. Widely held ideas of masculinity and femininity contributed to the way love and romance were constructed. Participants in the research offered both compliance and resistance to dominant gender ideologies that cohere around love and romance for them, reflecting how gender and identity are negotiated within relationships.