Romanticism May Increase Rates of Partner Violence

by Amanda Ng (’17)

Fig. 1: Notions that jealousy and controlling behaviors are romantic are related to higher rates of partner violence.

In terms of their romantic beliefs, people are under a variety of influences, some of which stem from the entertainment industry. Many books, movies, and television shows showing jealous and controlling behaviors as signs of love and commitment in heterosexual relationships have inspired a similar belief in young women. Previous studies have shown that these romantic beliefs can endanger one’s well-being and even lead to an increased chance of domestic violence.

In a recent project led by researchers at the University of Mary Washington, 275 female participants ranging from 18 to 50 years of age were surveyed to investigate this trend. To test this, participants were given five different surveys of varying length that assessed their romanticism of mate retention behaviors, value of romantic relationships, belief that jealousy is good, ideology of romanticism, and experiences of abuse. The results of these scales were then correlated with one another in order to find whether the data supported or rejected their claim.

As predicted, it was found that having ideological romantic beliefs, believing jealousy is good, and highly valuing romantic relationships was correlated to finding controlling mate-retention behaviors romantic, loving, and signs of commitment. This was also correlated to the participants’ reports of emotional and physical abuse.

In the future, this research should be used in order to change the portrayal of romantic relationships in the media, in an effort to decrease the idea that controlling behaviors are signs of love. Hopefully, this research can be applied to decrease the rate of domestic violence.



  1. Papp, et. al., The dark side of heterosexual romance: endorsement of romantic beliefs relates to intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 1-11 (2016). doi: 10.1007/s11199-016-0668-0
  1. Image retrieved from:

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