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College Culture’s Effect On Sustaining Romantic Relationships

3179 words - 13 pages

Over the years, the formerly frowned upon “hook-up” relationships that were seen to be problematic are presently perceived as normal behavior on college campuses (Manning, Giordana, & Longmore, 2006), making this a desired area for study. Much of the research regarding sexual behavior among college students has been compiled of quantitative data measuring the frequency of the “hook-up’” and the scripts associated with it, yet little has supplied us with in-depth qualitative data to understand the nature of such behavior and how it affects relationships. Because of this, I seek to expand the research already presented by observing and analyzing the social norms, scripts, and sexual ...view middle of the document...

So, when students are exposed to the social norms of engaging in casual sex, how will this affect a romantic relationship?
Individuals desire to be a part of the group and as a result may conform to the perceived social norm for sexual behavior but they tend to believe that they are the only one in the group experiencing conflict between private attitudes and public behavior (Lambert, Kahn, & Apple, 2003). This conflict could be a product of their relationship status. Students who are single do not feel guilty for their actions since they have no commitment to another and are just enjoying the college life. Those who are in a committed relationship and trying to enjoy the college culture face the obstacles of their environment and may question the value of commitment.
Social norms theory predicts that generally held perceptions might encourage casual sexual behavior in a misguided attempt to conform to perceived “norms”. If so, most college students act in ways that correspond with these assumed behaviors that in turn are manipulating the wellbeing of romantic relationships. For example, Maticka-Tyndale and Herold (1997) found that a party atmosphere, drinking alcohol, and participation in non-relational sex during spring break presented a coherent script among college students. “Those students who began enacting the script by engaging in partying and drinking were more likely to engage in non-relational sexual behavior than those who did not begin enacting the script at all”. So, this brings about problems since individuals who are in romantic relationships are still a part of the college culture and as a result may lose touch with customary relationship practice.
As for the college sexual script, it emphasizes fun and flirtation without an implied need to form a romantic relationship. It deals with interpersonal interaction and the expectation of involvement with peers without expectations of exclusivity. However, the script does not specify boundaries for individuals who are romantically involved, thereby causing those in relationships to exhibit behaviors outside those expected in an exclusive relationship. Accordingly, many of the students who follow the sexual scripts and social norms do not realize the effects that they have on their romantically involved peers.
For the purpose of this study, I will focus specifically on college culture in which hookups have become a prominent feature (Rodberg, 1999) and its impact on sustaining a normal healthy romantic relationship. As previously discussed, my hypothesis describes that current college social norms influence romantic relationships. This being that because of the sexual scripts associated with the social norms, it has an unfavorable effect on the sustaining and beginning of romantic relationships among students.
For the purpose of this study I used two groups of participants. The first group, which was randomly selected, was comprised of 65 male and...

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