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Sex Differences in Intimacy Levels in Best Friendships and Romantic Partnerships

Pearce, E; Machin, A; Dunbar, RIM; (2020) Sex Differences in Intimacy Levels in Best Friendships and Romantic Partnerships. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 10.1007/s40750-020-00155-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: Close romantic and friendship relationships are crucial for successful survival and reproduction. Both provide emotional support that can have significant effects on an individual’s health and wellbeing, and through this their longer term survival and fitness. Nonetheless, the factors that create and maintain intimacy in close relationships remain unclear. Nor is it entirely clear what differentiates romantic relationships from friendships in these terms. In this paper, we explore which factors most strongly predict intimacy in these two kinds of relationship, and how these differ between the two sexes. Results: Aside from best friendships being highly gendered in both sexes, the dynamics of these two types of relationships differ between the sexes. The intimacy of female relationships was influenced by similarity (homophily) in many more factors (notably dependability, kindness, mutual support, sense of humour) than was the case for men. Some factors had opposite effects in the two sexes: gift-giving had a negative effect on women’s friendships and a positive effect on men’s, whereas shared histories had the opposite effect. Conclusion: These results confirm and extend previous findings that the dynamics of male and female relationships are very different in ways that may reflect differences in their functions.

Type: Article
Title: Sex Differences in Intimacy Levels in Best Friendships and Romantic Partnerships
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s40750-020-00155-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-020-00155-z
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Social relationships, Emotional closeness, Face-to-face contact, Homophily
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113632
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