Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study explored the impact of idealized relationships, present in our media and culture, on committed relationships. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways that relationships are impacted by real and idealized relationship discrepancies. In addition, this research provided an initial assessment of the coping mechanisms utilized by partners as problem solving responses to the discrepancies. Twelve participants, self-identified as in a committed relationship with a partner and living together for over one year, participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with questions focusing on how the participants' relationships fit and do not fit into idealized notions of relationships, how their partnership is affected by this relationship discrepancy and the ways that they cope and respond to these effects. Findings indicated that many participants experienced feelings of discomfort, questioning and doubt in their relationship due to the prevalence of idealized relationships. All of the interviewees identified several coping mechanisms which they found effective in response to these feelings. The most common coping strategy was communication, namely with one's partner but also with friends and family. Among other responses, participants identified taking proactive steps to renew intimacy in their own relationship and demystify romantic ideals put forth in the media.


iii, 103 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 92-94).