One danger in the attempt to intellectually examine intimacy is that it makes it cold and emotionless. Who among us wants to equate love with a marketplace where people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs through negotiation, bargaining, and comparison shopping? These concepts conflict with our deeply held, romantic versions of what love relationships are or should be. The idealized image of love in U.S. culture largely denies control and rationality. We’re “swept off our feet,” we’re “carried away,” or love “puts a spell on us.”
Yet, we’re all aware, at least on some level, that these nonromantic factors are important that many of them influence our intimate choices. “Starry-
eyed romance” may make for enjoyable novels or movies, but it may not be enough to sustain a relationship through the practical demands of day-to-day family life. In thinking about this, consider the following:
Does dating exist at Brown University?(Yes, dating does exist at Brown University) Describe the most common ways that people develop intimate, long-term relationships on campus? How are these processes different from or similar to the ways your parents’ generation formed relationships? Can structural functionalism, rational choice theory (exchange theory) or conflict theory help us understand these differences or similarities?
How do you think men and women differ in their approaches to intimate relationships? Do you think the sexual double standard exists?
Thinking about the marriage market and the attributes one brings into the marketplace, what are the effects of serial “hooking-up” on finding a marriage or committed long-term partner? Are those who engage in sexual relations with many partners at risk of forming less committed relationships in the future because they appear “unappealing” to prospective partners than those who did not engage in such behavior?