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Current Issues in Personality Psychology
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Original article

Love attitudes, psychological femininity and masculinity, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and emotional intelligence of rejectors in close relationships

Eugenia Mandal
,
Anna Latusek

Current Issues in Personality Psychology, 6(3), 188-199
Online publish date: 2018/06/01
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BACKGROUND

The dissolution of a romantic relationship constitutes one of the most difficult events in an individual’s life, which bears an array of emotional and behavioural consequences (Sbarra & Emery, 2005; Sbarra & Ferrer, 2006). Contemporary studies investigate the issue of dissolution of a relationship from various vantage points. Contributory factors include the social context (family environment, circle of friends, culture) which is of importance for partners in a relationship, the individual context (features of both partners) as well as the dyadic context (the relationship characteristics) (Felmlee, 2001). Taken into consideration is the role of Davis, Shaver, and Vernon’s styles of attachment (2003), the emotional reactions and coping strategies (Sbarra & Emery, 2005), the partners’ communication skills, and the attractiveness of alternatives. The problem of the dissolution of close relationships concerns at least 85% of people who have been in a romantic relationship at least once. It can be observed that there are people who are always the first to initiate the process of ending a close relationship. The existing research on dissolution of close relationships (e.g. Perilloux & Buss, 2008) and divorce statistics show that it is both men and women who decide to end a marriage or informal relationship (Central Statistical Office, 2012, 2015).
The breakup of a close relationship brings about a wide array of emotions: bitterness, anxiety, remorse. People responsible for ending the relationship experience a kind of joy while feeling miserable at the same time about the fact that they have abandoned their partner. Women who leave their partners tend to feel upset, perplexed, and scared in the aftermath, whereas men experience indifference or contentment (Perilloux & Buss, 2008). Research by Perilloux and Buss (2008) showed that there are distinctions between women and men in terms of the emotions that are triggered in them in the aftermath of a broken-up relationship, based on whether a person is the rejector or the rejected party.
Both men and women who were rejected compared themselves with their rejecters. They scored higher in depression. They also experienced loss of self-esteem, and rumination. Women more than men were characterised by negative emotions after a breakup, such as feeling sad, confused, and scared (Perilloux & Buss, 2008). It may be presumed that female rejectors and male rejectors differ from women and men involved in long-term relationships, especially when it comes to emotionality.
Studies on sex and psychological gender indicate two dimensions: psychological femininity and psychological masculinity (Bem, 1974). High feminine intensity translates into perpetrating stereotypically female behaviours including attentiveness, emotionality, tenderness, caring about one’s physical appearance, etc.; on the other hand, people with high male intensity conduct themselves in a way culturally perceived as masculine (e.g. decision making, force, competitiveness, etc.). It can be argued that it is not the biological sex but the psychological one – understood as the intensity of femininity and masculinity – that can predispose to making the decision to part with a person’s partner (Coleman & Ganong, 1985).
Studies on close relationships demonstrate that women and men experience the dissolution of a relationship as well as the love itself in different ways (Hendrick, Hendrick, Foote, & Slapion-Foote, 1984; Bailey, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 1987).
Typology of love (Lee, 1976) defines six manners of perceiving love (love attitudes). Eros (romantic love), Storge (friendship love), Ludus (game-playing love), Pragma (logical love), Agape (self-sacrificing love), and Mania (possessive love). These attitudes vary in terms of passion dynamics, desire, and attachment partner in a close relationship (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986, 1995; Hendrick, Hendrick, & Adler, 1988). The styles of experiencing love by partners may greatly influence a relationship’s quality and longevity (Davis & Latty-Mann, 1987; Hendrick, Hendrick, & Adler, 1988).
Eros is characterised by the strongest desire and fascination with the object of love. It involves being affectionate towards the partner and showing love. Hendrick, Hendrick, and Adler (1988) observed that partners who prefer Eros tend not to hide their relationship – they display their love publicly and outsiders may notice the so-called “chemistry” between them. Key factors in those types of relationships are sexual satisfaction and erotic desire. At the same time, partners tend to care for each other deeply, for instance by celebrating events important both for the relationship and for both partners involved in it (Hahn & Blass, 1997).
Storge involves feeling a deep bond with one’s partner (Lee, 1976). What is of paramount importance in close relationships are friendly relations, mutual trust, and caring about the partner’s wellbeing (Zeigler-Hill, Britton, Holden, & Besser, 2015). Mallandain and Davies (1994) argue that partners in those types of relationships trust that they will spend the rest of their lives together.
Ludus considers love as a game to play, where partners are not treated seriously and the relationship itself is perceived as a form of entertainment (Frey & Hojjat, 1998). Studies by Neto (1993) showed that people who prefer the Ludus style strive to get the upper hand in the relationship, being careful not to become the partner who loves more. Ludus involves being dishonest and committing adultery (Hahn & Blass, 1997). The key role of being in a relationship is to derive pleasure out of it, hence they are typically short-term (Hensley, 1996). When leaving a partner, people who pursue ludic love do not feel any sorrow or grief – not only do they accept the emotional distance between them and their partner, but they also create it. Sarwer, Kalichman, Johnson, Early, and Akram (1993) note that Ludus is strongly connected with sexual aggression in a close relationship and involves perceiving the relationship as a process of abuse of another person for one’s own pleasure (frequently in a sexual context) (Frey & Hojjat, 1998). It also involves the attitude of avoiding sacrificing oneself for the partner. The findings of research conducted by Frey and Hojjat (1998) demonstrate that both men and women have more abundant sexual experience than people who prefer different styles of love, they are more sexually open, and have more sexual partners (cf. Hensley, 1996).
Pragma is a type of practical love based on common sense and sensibility. A person initiates the relationship by preparing a list of pros and cons of being involved in the relationship. A close relationship is perceived as tantamount to running a company (Waller & Shaver, 1994). Pragma is connected with choosing one’s partner using just common sense and trusting that the investment will pay off in the long term (Montgomery & Sorell, 1997).
Agape is a giving type of love with its foundations in caring for the other person. People who pursue this type of love do not expect anything in return – they care for their partner’s wellbeing not expecting any tokens of gratitude (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986). A correlation has been observed between Agape and a mutual understanding in a relationship, forgiveness, and a modest number of arguments and misunderstandings (Montgomery & Sorell, 1997).
Mania can be characterised by the highest level of intensity and an obsessive way of thinking about the partner. The findings of research by Jones and Nelson (1996) showed that people who prefer this style are filled with a constant fear of losing their partner, which can lead to striving to own them. In close relationships, intense jealousy is likely to appear as well as violent reactions and seeking reassurance that a person is loved (Hendrick & Hendrick, 2006).
Recent studies on styles of love indicate discrepancies between the sexes (White, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 2004). Men perceive love as Eros and Ludus more frequently than women, while women prefer perceiving love as Mania or Pragma (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1995). Studies demonstrate that culture and upbringing play a role in influencing styles of love (Waller & Shaver, 1994; Sanri & Goodwin, 2013). In analyses by Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) it was stated that people who stem from collectivistic cultures present an attitude that is oriented towards Storge or Pragma love types, while respondents with a background in individualistic cultures prefer erotic love – Eros. Studies that analyse the causes of creation of different styles of love (Waller & Shaver, 1994) emphasise the role of family and factors from early childhood.
Research on close relationships indicates the importance of Machiavellianism when the process of dissolution of a relationship is concerned (Brewer & Abell, 2017). Machiavellianism is a trait of character connected with cynicism, distrust, and a willingness to use other people to one’s benefit (Christie & Geis, 1970; Vecchio & Sussman, 1991). Machiavellian women and Machiavellian men forge individualism-oriented relationships where commitment and the need of intimacy are very uncommon (Ali, Amorim, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2009; Dussault, Hojjat, & Boone, 2013). Machiavellianism demonstrates a strong interrelation with the inclination to maintain distance between partners (Brewer & Abell, 2017). After the dissolution of a close relationship, people whose Machiavellianism level is high do not experience the distress connected with it (Brewer & Abell, 2017).
Machiavellianism can be examined from the aspect of evolutionary functions (Buss, 2009; Jonason, Webster, Schmitt, Li, & Crysel, 2012). Jonason, Li, Webster, and Schmitt (2009) argue that Machiavellianism increases the odds of finding a partner. Close relationships among people who pursue the Machiavellian style tend to be short-term (cf. McHoskey, 2001). This is because the Machiavellian type of person values independence in a relationship, does not exhibit any pro-social approaches (Jonason, Li, & Teicher, 2010), and is less interdependent when social interactions are concerned. Wastell and Booth (2003) argue that the factors that inhibit interpersonal relations of a Machiavellian personality are emotional deficits that manifest themselves in a failure to recognise the person’s own emotions. In interpersonal relations this type of personality tends to be distrustful (Burks, Carpenter, & Verhoogen, 2003) and display a sense of guilt far more seldom than non-Machiavellian personalities (Wastell & Booth, 2003), while often treating people with hostility (Fehr, Samsom, & Paulhus, 1992).
Research by McHoskey (2001) revealed that Machiavellianism correlates positively with sexual curiosity and the inclination to be unfaithful. The matrimony success of a Machiavellian type, perceived as starting a relationship, is connected with being ready to employ manipulation tactics. It can be assumed that the ability to form close relationships by Machiavellian personalities is a consequence of an individual assumption that cultivating a close relationship is equivalent to winning and defeating the opponent (Ryckman, Thornton, & Butler, 1994).
Studies by Buss and Shackelford (1997) suggest that narcissism may also have an impact on the durability of a relationship. They showed that a high narcissism level is connected with a greater inclination towards cheating and unfaithfulness, which translates indirectly into the breakup of a relationship and drives the process of finding a new partner (Buss & Shackelford, 1997).
Narcissism is in the clinical tradition a personality disorder (ICD-10 F60.8 Narcissistic personality; DSM-IV) that can be characterised by fantasising of individual success, ideal love, being convinced of one’s uniqueness, craving for exaggerated admiration, and being convinced that a person is entitled to exercise special prerogatives. A narcissistic person is inclined to use people for his or her own benefit (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Based on the clinical premise, social psychologists and personality psychologists proposed comprehending narcissism as a continuous variable (Raskin & Hall, 1979). According to their proposal, people who exhibit narcissistic traits believe in their own uniqueness (Emmons, 1984), and consider themselves more intelligent and more attractive than others (Gabriel, Critelli, & Ee, 1994). Attempts to be closer to them are rejected, they are egoistic (Paulhus & John, 1998) and unwilling to develop intimacy (Emmons, 1987; Raskin & Shaw, 1988). Emmons (1987) and Raskin and Shaw (1988) point out that narcissism is closely connected with a strong self-focus and a less conspicuous other-focus. Additionally, a correlation was proven between narcissism and a low level of empathy (Watson, Grisham, Trotter, & Biderman, 1984). Close relationships developed by narcissistic personalities are endangered especially because they find their alternatives highly attractive. That is why they are not likely to get involved in a relationship and tend to avoid strong commitments. They are convinced of their attractiveness and their ability to seduce.
The initiation, duration, and process of dissolution of a close relationship are connected with the level of partners’ emotional intelligence (Beck, 2001). Emotional intelligence is a characteristic that enables an effective functioning in romantic relationships (Malouff, Schutte, & Thorsteinsson, 2014). Emotional intelligence is an adaptive personality trait (Freudenthaler & Neubauer, 2005) understood as an ability to recognise one’s own emotions and the emotions of other people (Mayer & Salovey, 1993). Comprehension of the emotions is connected with the awareness of the causes of experiencing them, while a proper management of those feelings enables their regulation. For instance, the ability to control one’s emotions is necessary to achieve goals and solve problems (Mayer & Salovey, 1993). It can be suggested that emotional intelligence is a concept similar to cognitive intelligence because it manifests itself most often in everyday life. Joseph and Newman (2010) demonstrated that a high level of emotional intelligence is related to intrapersonal skills (e.g. recognition of one’s own emotions) as well as interpersonal skills (e.g. managing well in social situations) (cf. Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). The correlatives of emotional intelligence are good health (Martins, Ramalho, & Morin, 2010) and a high quality of one’s performed professional work (O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawyer, & Story, 2011).
It can be argued that emotional intelligence guarantees satisfaction from a close relationship. It is presumed that this has some connection with a deep understanding of a person’s partner and a more effective management and usage of emotions when relationships are concerned. People who have a better insight into their own emotions choose partners who are better fitted to their needs. At the same time, partners of people with a high level of emotional intelligence can learn from them the ability to understand emotions, which may lead to a higher satisfaction level in a relationship (Malouff, Schutte, & Thorsteinsson, 2014).
In light of the deliberations above, the focus of the research described herein was to examine the love styles, psychological femininity and masculinity, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and emotional intelligence in rejectors of close relationships and to determine whether – according to those factors – the rejectors differ from the rejected.

PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE

PARTICIPANTS

The study included 120 participants (60 females and 60 males) aged from 18 to 30 years, M = 24.20, SD = 4.18. The number of people in the group of rejectors and the number of participants in the reference group were identical: both were made up of 30 females and 30 males. The groups differ in terms of age: rejectors M = 23.27 years; reference group M = 25.16 years of age; p = .012).
The participants had to meet three requirements in order to be qualified as “rejectors”: (1) described themselves as “rejectors”; (2) declared that at the time of the examination they were not in a romantic relationship or were in one that lasts no longer than one year, and (3) claimed that in their relationships history they had rejected their partners more often compared to when they themselves had been rejected. In the literature (Buss & Shackelford, 1997; Fletcher, Simpson, & Thomas, 2000) romantic relationships that last more than a year are treated as long-term relationships.
The reference group was comprised of participants who (1) described themselves as people who do not leave their partners, (2) were at the time in a relationship lasting more than one year, and (3) claimed that in their relationships history they were the ones who ended the relationship as many times or fewer than they were the rejected ones. The sampling technique was identical to the procedure implemented for the Perilloux and Buss research (2008).
The participants in the rejectors group had abandoned on average four partners (M = 3.77, partners; SD = 2.68; min = 3 partners, max = 15 partners). The difference between the number of partners rejected by participants from the reference group was statistically substantial (p < .001), which validated the division of the study’s participants into two groups: the rejectors and the rejected. The females from the rejectors group had abandoned on average M = 3.46 (SD = 2.77) partners while males M = 4.06 (SD = 2.58) partners.

DATA COLLECTION

The study was conducted among students of Silesian colleges (85 participants; 70% of group) and other adults (35 participants; 30% of group) who expressed their willingness to participate. The snowball sampling technique was adopted for the purpose of the study.
The study was conducted on-campus via direct contact; no research was done over the Internet. The subjects completed randomised questionnaires. The subjects did not receive any gratuities for participation.

ETHICAL PERMISSION OF THE STUDY

The subjects gave their consent to participate in the research procedure. They were assured of anonymity and informed that the results obtained from the research would only be used for academic purposes.

THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The research was performed to analyse the personality traits: love attitudes, psychological femininity and masculinity, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and emotional intelligence of people who reject their partners in close relationships. It was presumed that a difference would be revealed between people who frequently leave their partners and people comprising the reference group – those who do not abandon their partner. Additionally, an analysis was conducted of the relation between the variables and the fact of leaving the partner in a relationship. The purpose of the study implied the following main research question: How do measured individual differences predict being a rejector in close relationships?
It was hypothesised that Ludus and Pragma love attitudes characterise rejectors to a greater degree than Agape and Eros.
It was also hypothesised that rejectors are distinguished by higher levels of psychological masculinity, Machiavellianism, and narcissism than subjects from the reference group.
It was also assumed that rejectors are characterised by a lower level of emotional intelligence than participants from the reference group.
It was presumed that there is a positive correlation between the number of rejected partners and psychological masculinity.
It was expected that Ludus and Pragma love attitudes are the predictors of belonging to the group of rejectors in close relationships.

MEASURES

Love Attitudes Scale (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Polish adaptation: Wojciszke, 1993) includes 42 items measuring the love attitudes: Eros (model item: “from the very first meeting something pulled us closer together”), Pragma (“I try to carefully plan my life before I look for a partner”), Storge (“I can’t love a person before I start caring for him/her”), Ludus (“Our physical love is intense and satisfying”), Agape (“I’m using my own resources to help her/him when they find themselves in a predicament”), and Mania (“When something in the relationship goes wrong I lose my mind”).
The subscales include seven items, measuring on a scale from 1 (I strongly disagree) to 5 (I strongly agree) with a reliability of α = .80 (Eros α = .71, Pragma α = .82, Storge α = .84, Ludus α = .75, Agape α = .84, Mania α = .71).
Sex Roles Inventory (Bem, 1974; Polish adaptation: Kuczyńska, 1992) includes 35 items measuring two scales: psychological femininity (example items: “caring”, “involved in other people’s issues”, “gentle”) and psychological masculinity (“competitive”, “success-oriented”, “self-confident”). The items are assessed on a scale from 1 (does not describe me well) to 5 (describes me well) with inventory’s reliability of: psychological femininity α = .78; psychological masculinity α = .79.
Test of Machiavellianism MACH IV (Christie & Geis, 1970; Polish adaptation: Pospiszyl, 2000) includes 20 items measuring the level of Machiavellianism as a personality trait (example item: “Don’t ever tell anyone about the true intentions for your actions unless you deem it useful”; “When a person trusts another completely, this may cause him/her trouble”). The items are scored on a scale from 1 (I strongly disagree) to 7 (I strongly agree). The scale’s reliability is α = .76.
Narcissistic Personality Inventory NPI (Raskin & Hall, 1979; Polish adaptation: Bazińska & Drat-Ruszczak, 2000) includes 34 items measuring the level of narcissism as a continuous feature. Example items: “I have a gift of exerting influence on others”; “I’d like for somebody to write my biography someday”; “I believe I’m quite unique”. The items are evaluated on a scale from 1 (This is not me) to 5 (This is me) with a reliability of α = .70.
Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire INTE (Schutte et al., 1998; Polish adaptation: Jaworowska & Mat­czak, 2001) includes 33 items measuring emotional intelligence (example items: “When I come across any obstacles I think back to earlier situations in my life when I overcame similar difficulties”; “When I experience some emotions I am aware of what I’m feeling”). The scale ranges from 1 (I strongly disagree) to 5 (I strongly agree) with a reliability of α = .72.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES

The statistical analysis of the results obtained from the study involved administering a test of validity of the differences in the group of female rejectors and the reference group and the group of male rejectors and the reference group. Multivariate MANOVA analysis was also done. To determine the predictors of being the rejector in close relationships, logistical regression was used.

RESULTS

The analysis of the findings revealed that the rejectors were characterised by a substantially higher level of Pragma (M = 19.95, p = .001) and Ludus (M = 19.11, p = .001) in comparison with the reference group. In terms of the Agape (M = 23.56, p = .009) and Eros (M = 21.36, p = .007) love styles, the rejectors fielded lower results than those in long-lasting relationships. The findings showed that the rejectors in close relationships produced lower scores in terms of psychological femininity (M = 52.86) than the reference group (M = 55.53, p = .071, rend level) (Table 1).
The analysis in the female group revealed that women who reject their partners in close relationships scored higher in terms of Pragma (M = 20.33) than women from the reference group (M = 17.30, p = .006). The female rejectors were characterised by a substantially higher Ludus level (M = 17.60) than females in the reference group (M = 14.73, p = .023). When it comes to Eros (M = 21.16), rejector females scored substantially lower in comparison with women in the reference group (M = 23.53, p = .039) (Table 2).
The findings showed that male rejectors in close relationships scored higher in terms of Pragma (M = 19.56) in comparison with the males in the reference group (M = 17.30, p = .026). They were also characterised by a higher level of Ludus (M = 20.63) than males in the reference group (M = 15.96, p < .001). When it comes to Agape, male rejectors scored lower (M = 23.72) than males from the reference group (M = 27.20, p = .007). Furthermore, male rejectors had lower results (M = 49.90) than males in the reference group (M = 54.33) in respect of femininity (p = .035) (Table 3). Male rejectors in close relationships scored higher in terms of Machiavellianism (M = 105.13) in comparison with the males in the reference group (M = 98.73, p = .068; rend level) and lower (M = 121.46) than males in the reference group (M = 127.43) in terms of emotional intelligence (p = .059; rend level) (Table 3).
In the analysis of findings a multivariate MANOVAanalysis of variance was conducted according to a 2 (sex) × 2 (rejectors vs. participants from the reference group) pattern. It was demonstrated that the rejectors were distinctly different from people from the reference group; F(4, 113) = 3.62, p = .001. Females and males in the entire sample were distinctly different from each other F(4, 113) = 5.18, p = .001, while the interaction between the sex and qualification to the rejectors group or the reference group was not statistically significant.
Univariate analyses confirmed that the rejectors differed from the reference group in terms of stylesof love and psychological femininity (Pragma, p = .001; Ludus, p = .001; Agape, p = .013; Eros, p = .010; femininity, p = .054). Sex was the differentiating factor in the following variables: Storge, p = .051; Pragma, p = .062 (statistical trend level), femininity, p = .017; masculinity, p = .013; Machiavellianism, p < .001; narcissism, p < .001). A vital link between sex and representing the group of rejectors/the reference group was noted in reference to Pragma (p = .052) as well as emotional intelligence (p = .015).
Logistic regression analysis showed that among the researched variables the strongest predictor of being the rejector was Pragma (χ2 = 4.95, p = .027). The findings showed that Ludus was a significant predictor of abandoning partners (χ2 = 4.62, p = .034). It has been demonstrated that Agape, Storge, Eros, and Mania were not predictors of being the type of person who abandons his/her partners. Psychological femininity, psychological masculinity, Machiavellianism, emotional intelligence, and narcissism were not predictors of being the rejector in a relationship either (cf. Table 4).
It has been demonstrated that there is an inverse correlation between the number of rejected partners and the level of psychological masculinity (Spearman’s R = .38, p = .002) and Ludus style (Spearman’s Rho = .30, p = .001), and a negative correlation between the number of rejected partners and Agape (Spearman’s Rho = –.23, p = .001).

DISCUSSION

It has been noted that in the study group there are substantial differences in terms of Agape and Eros styles between the rejectors and the reference group. These findings are consistent with the love style characteristics and all previous studies (cf. Montgomery & Sorell, 1997) that showed that people who are currently involved in a close relationship report higher Storge and Agape levels, while people who are and want to continue being single are characterised by a higher Ludus score. The more serious the relationship, the more often people involved in it start perceiving love as Eros, Storge, and Agape – this increase can be observed for people planning to get married soon (Jones & Nelson, 1996). Research by White, Hendrick, and Hendrick (2004) revealed that people who are not currently in romantic relationships prefer Ludus. It can be assumed that these people do not want to get involved in a marriage because they tend to prefer the game-playing love-type and treating their partners as entertainment rather than suffer the costs of an intimate, stable relationship that entails intimacy, being open and devoted, and ready to make sacrifices (Contreras, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 1996).
The analysis from the perspective of discrepancies between sexes showed that women who reject their partners score higher on Pragma and Storge. This result may be understood in the context of reports indicating that women seek relationships that will allow them to start a family and treat their partners not only as lovers but also as friends (Buss, 2007). At the same time, from the point of view of evolution, women treat forging a relationship highly pragmatically. Due to the high costs of getting involved in a romantic relationship, women tend to search for partners who guarantee a high material status. In light of the obtained results, it appears that females who abandon their partners treat love highly pragmatically. The analyses are consistent with the Pragma conceptualisation that is based on the premise that a relationship between two people is a specific type of relation where it must be worth being one of the two partners (Lee, 1976). When the relationship is no longer beneficial and profitable for either partner, it must come to an end. The results that were obtained may also be interpreted in the context of the studies showing that men more often than women get involved in short-term relationships that are typically of a sexual nature (Clark & Hatfield, 1989), while women’s selection tends to be more thorough and takes more time, regardless of whether the expectation is of a short- or long-term relationship (Ellis, 1992). These findings are consistent with the results of studies that reveal the predictive role of Pragma when it comes to rejecting partners.
The abovementioned tests produced similar results for women and men characterised by Pragma and Ludus attitudes, showing that both female and male rejectors had higher Pragma and Ludus levels than women and men from reference groups. This indicates a more instrumental, fun and practical approach to close relationships pursued by rejectors of both genders than the approach employed by people involved in a long-lasting relationships.
The distinctions between sexes that were observed in the studies concerned only the fact that male rejectors scored lower on Agape love attitude than men from the reference group, and female rejectors scored lower on Eros love attitude than females from the reference group. In men, only on the statistical-trend level did the differences in terms of Machiavellianism and emotional intelligence occur.
Rejectors, and especially male rejectors, are less inclined to sacrifice themselves, which is attributed to the Agape love attitude, than people who are currently in stable relationships. Agape is a more desirable and valued attitude in women than in men, and men who exhibit traits of altruistic love may be perceived as less manly and unattractive (Davies, 2001). Therefore, a lower Agape love attitude score in male rejectors than in men from the reference group may be ascribed to gender stereotypes, social expectations, and the perceptions of attractiveness of males. The understanding of love as Agape, in general, fits more to the stereotype of a caring woman, devoted to tending to the needs of her loved-ones, hence a result that does not indicate any differences between female rejector subjects and the women from the reference group. This shows that females highly value in themselves the Agape love attitude in close relationships.
Research shows that a low Eros level in close relationships relates to less commitment and satisfaction (Hatfield, Pillemer, O’Brien, & Le, 2008; Acevedo & Aron, 2009).
In the presented studies, excessive Eros exhibited by women from the reference group, who were involved in long-term relationships, proves that a high Eros level in relationships contributes to its longevity.
People who reject their partners in close relationships are characterised by a lower level of psychological femininity. Psychological masculinity is connected with a high frequency of rejecting partners. This result seems consistent with the social perception of femininity and masculinity. Masculinity, understood as engaging in behaviour and exhibiting instrumental traits stereotypically perceived as masculine, may predispose to decide to end a relationship more quickly. On the other hand, femininity, understood as tenderness, care, emotionality, and naivety (Mandal, 2000, 2003), is connected with being focused on close relations and attaching a lot of weight to them. As the results show, it may also be connected with the fear of hurting another person and act as a deterrent when it comes to the decision to leave a partner in a relationship.
Women who reject their partners were characterised by a lower level of emotional intelligence than females from the reference group. This result may be interpreted in the context of the research revealing that there is a link between emotional intelligence and deriving satisfaction from a relationship (Malouff et al., 2014). This link may stress the protective function of emotional intelligence in situations of conflicts within relationships, which can lead to a breakup. Analyses by Gottman and Levenson (1992) demonstrated that people with a high emotional intelligence declare that they were involved in fewer failed relationships than people with a lower emotional intelligence level. It may be pointed out that women tend to have a better developed emotional intelligence than men (Goleman, 1997). Research by Brackett, Warner, and Bosco (2005) shows that if at least one partner in a relationship could be described as emotionally intelligent, the relationship he/she is in will cope with problems better, will have more mutual understanding and will last longer.
No connection was found between Machiavellianism or narcissism and the fact that some people repeatedly abandon their partners. Although the relationships in the Machiavellian style may seem dispassionate and lacking in emotions (Wastell & Booth, 2003), they can still bring some satisfaction. Manipulating a partner in a close relationship may be an efficient way to keep the partner close in order to guarantee the relationship’s permanence (Jakobwitz & Egan, 2006). High Machs, similarly to narcissistic people tend to enjoy competition. They may even treat their partner and competing for his/her affection as a specific kind of conquest (Brewer, Hunt, James, & Abell, 2015), not allowing a split-up. Jonason, Li, Webster, and Schmitt (2009) noticed that narcissism is an evolutionarily adaptive trait and narcissistic people are able to achieve reproductive success. A narcissistic person appears to be a “social predator” who finds his/her partner by creating an illusion of elitism (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). The partners of narcissistic people are often individuals with a low self-esteem who reinforce the narcissistic partner’s conviction about his/her own attractiveness and uniqueness. It can be assumed that this may lead to a higher relationship satisfaction level (Campbell, Brunell, & Finkel, 2006).

CONCLUSIONS

The achieved results showed that rejectors in close relationships score higher on Pragma and Ludus and can be described as demonstrating lower levels of Agape and Eros. They are also characterised by a lower level of psychological femininity but a higher level of psychological masculinity and emotional intelligence in comparison with participants from the reference group. People who are prone to leaving their partners in close relationships differ from those who are in permanent relationships. The love attitudes, especially Pragma and Ludus, psychological femininity, and masculinity, may be of particular importance for the durability of a close relationship.

LIMITATIONS

However, one should bear in mind that in the analyses of the obtained results the presented studies concentrate solely on the selected personal aspects of the functioning of partners in close relationships and do not cover the entire complexity nor the dynamics of romantic relationships. Furthermore, an entirely separate issue remains the one of the increasingly common phenomenon of failed attempts to establish stable, close relations, despite good intentions.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

The presented findings from the research concern the selected individual differences in terms of the inclination to abandon partners in close relationships. It would be worthwhile to confine focus to other individual characteristics, such as partners’ age, their attractiveness and attractiveness of alternatives of the relationship.
Other valid parameters would be the couple’s history, children, financial situation, and power in the close relationship. It is also worth taking into account all situational aspects hindering the stability of a relationship (e.g. meeting a new, attractive person, change of job, change of place of residence, trip); external factors may, in addition to personal prerequisites, constitute a valid contributory factor when a decision to leave a partner in a relationship is concerned.

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