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  • April 17, 2016 5:45 AM | Deleted user

    TN Romantic Relationship has selected two recent articles to share with you.

    Article 1 by Larson et al. (2016): With or Without You? Contextualizing the Impact of Romantic Relationship Breakup on Crime Among Serious Adolescent Offenders

    Doi link: DOI 10.1007/s10964-015-0318-9

    This study examined the effects of relationship breakup on crime among justice-involved youth. The author used data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, a longitudinal study of 1354 (14 % female) adjudicated youth from the juvenile and adult court systems in Phoenix and Philadelphia. They found that breakup has criminogenic influence. The study suggests that relationship breakup’s effect on crime is particularly acute among this at-risk sample, contingent upon post-breakup relationship transitions, and more pronounced for relationships that involve cohabitation.

    Article 2 by Byers et al. (2016): Time Out from Sex or Romance: Sexually Experienced Adolescents’ Decisions to Purposefully Avoid Sexual Activity or Romantic Relationships

    Doi link: DOI 10.1007/s10964-016-0447-9

    Sexually experienced adolescents may purposefully avoid engaging in sexual activity for a period of time. This study investigated sexually experienced adolescents’ decisions to purposefully avoid further sexual activity and/or romantic relationships with a focus on how common these decisions are and factors influencing them. Participants were 411 (56 % female) adolescents (16–21 years old) who completed an on-line survey that assessed reasons for each type of avoidance, religiosity, sexual esteem, sexual distress, sexual coercion, and dysfunctional sexual beliefs. It is found that the female adolescents who had avoided sexual activity were more likely to have experienced sexual coercion. The male adolescents who had avoided sexual activity were more religious and likely to have experienced sexual coercion. The male adolescents who had avoided romantic relationships were more sexually distressed and likely to have experienced sexual coercion.

    We hope you enjoy our selections!

    Professor Jennifer Connolly, York University, Canada and Dr. Rongqin Yu, University of Oxford, UK

  • July 21, 2015 10:58 AM | Deleted user

    Dear colleagues,

    The Romantic Relationships Topic Network, in collaboration with the Sexuality Topic Network, invites you to attend our 2015 SSEA pre-conference: "Sex and Romance: Does the Relationship Matter?" We are excited to have secured Manfred van Dulmen as the lead speaker and a panel of emerging scholars who will speak about cutting-edge research methods in sexuality and romantic relationship research. 

    Please see the Program Sex and Romance-Does the Relationship Matter (2015 SSEA Pre-conference).ppt for additional details on the pre-conference, and be sure to register if you plan to join us.

    Hope to see you there!

    Rongqin Yu, Jennifer Connolly, Eva Lefkowitz, and Shannon Claxton

  • May 06, 2015 2:51 AM | Deleted user

    Dear Colleagues,

    Are you a young scholar or do you know of a young scholar who studies romantic relationships and sexuality through social media data? If so, please read on!

    We are organizing a pre-conference at the 7th Biennial Conference of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (SSEA), Miami, Florida, October, 2015. The theme of the pre-conference is: Sex and Romance: Does the Relationship Matter? As part of this pre-conference, we will have a panel of young scholars (doctoral or post-doctoral level) who use cutting edge techniques in research on sexuality or romance in emerging adulthood. We would like one of the speakers to have expertise in collecting and analyzing data directly from social media sources (e.g., facebook, twitter, etc.). If you, or someone you know, fits this description, please contact us for more information. Thank you very much.

    Best regards,

    Rongqin Yu, Jennifer Connolly, Eva Lefkowitz, and Shannon Claxton

  • April 09, 2015 6:03 AM | Deleted user

    When dating really becomes an industry

    The rationalization of courtship in late modernity

    Dr. Eric C. Hendriks, cultural anthropology, Utrecht University

    The metaphor of the “dating industry” has become so commonplace, that it is easy to overlook its actual meaning and implications. It is far more apt and provocative a description than may seem at first, because they signal that, under the societal conditions of late modernity, courtship has increasingly been subjected to industrialization-cum-rationalization. That is, the logics of efficiency, work and industry in fact increasingly rule contemporary courtship.

    The rationality of endless gain maximization forms the core of what sociologist Max Weber called “the spirit of capitalism.” The ever-deepening penetration of this capitalist spirit throughout society and culture is one of the most important developments of the modern era. In late modernity, with the rise of “emotional capitalism” (Illouz 2008), this rationality finally even began to conquer intimate life, penetrating courtship, love and romantic relationships (Gorski 2003: 172; Illouz 2008; Sennett 1998). These domains had formerly been thought to be, by their very nature, impenetrable to industrial streamlining, the work ethic and considerations of efficiency.

    Of course, economic considerations—differences in wealth—have always influenced whom people got married to. Yet “efficiency” was never part of the game, except perhaps for a Genghis Khan. Striking examples of the industrialization-cum-rationalization of courtship are the notion of efficiency in internet dating and the emergence of a “pickup” subculture.

    Efficiency in internet dating

    New approaches to internet dating are increasingly informed by a striving for efficiency. Dating sites employ algorithms to pre-match users. Also, newer dating sites have streamlined the selection process (e.g. Tinder) so as to maximize the number of potential partners that can be “selected” or “rejected” within a certain time unit. Meanwhile, some dating site users employ additional electronic tools to more efficiently work through the thousands/millions of profiles of potential partners.

    There are, for instance, smartphone apps that allow a dating site user (usually a man) to automatically and indiscriminately send initial contact requests to all (female) users in the area. This strategy allows one to move the real selection procedure to a later stage, namely when one has already obtained first responses (or non-responses) to one’s automated initial request or message. This maximizes efficiency, because one then only has to spend time and energy examining the smaller pile of user profiles that responded positively in the first round; after all, these profiles are more likely to be open to one’s possible further advances. By increasing scale and standardization, the individual here attempts to maximize the output of his online flirting in a quasi-industrial fashion. (Of course, however, none of this works if the opposite side uses the exact same strategy; or if the number of nearby users in the area happens to be highly limited and hence a “scarce resource.”)

    The Pickup Community

    An even more striking example of the rationalization of courtship is the so-called “Pickup Community” (or, alternatively, “Seduction Community”) which emerged in the late nineties and early 21st century. In the Pickup Community, male dating coaches sell their male students/consumers techniques and guidelines for increasing their competitiveness on the dating market. Not coincidentally, a large part of the teaching material draws on insights and terms from the sales branch. The educational products of the Pickup Community include advice books and DVDs as well as training programs in which dating coaches train students inside bars and nightclubs.

    Though part of a wider landscape of dating and relationship advice, the Pickup Community forms a distinct subculture, even possessing its own distinct technical vocabulary or “language” (Hendriks 2012). Certainly most students/consumers only hope to receive some quick dating tips, yet there is a small group of elite practitioners – the subculture’s heart and soul – who turn “pickup” into a lifestyle and subscribe to a distinct value system.

    In this value system, the hedonistic goal of sexual pleasure comes to complexly intertwine with ascetic, disciplinarian values. Elite practitioners of pickup “play the numbers game,” constantly approaching, and interacting with, new women (called “sets”). They do so not just because that increases one’s chances of success, but also because it is a way to practice and improve one’s skillset. In this way, socializing can turn into hard work. In a sense, pickup practitioners apply the capitalist work ethic famously described by Weber (2007 [1905]) to the art of womanizing. Womanizing then, rather than simply a hedonistic endeavor, comes to revolve around endurance, self-objectification, a sober abstinence from unproductive emotions and naïve romanticism, and an endless quest for increased market value (Hendriks 2012).

    Of course the Pickup Community is a marginalized and controversial subculture. Many find it utterly reprehensive. Yet in singling out these dating coaches and their students, critics overlook that their activities reflect the contemporary individual’s quest for coping with the new conditions of courtship.

    Religious and political communities have largely imploded, both in the West (Hallin and Mancini, 2004: 263-267) and China (Yan 2010), while the economy has become increasingly “flexible” (Sennett 1999). As society transforms, so do the conditions and manifestations of courtship, intimacy, romantic relationships, and marriage (the latter has, judging the divorce rates, also become rather “flexible”). In particular, as the capitalist spirit further pervades society, so our love lives also increasingly come to follow capitalist dynamics – whether we want it or not. This is why the everyday notion of a “dating industry” is more apt than some may be comfortable with.


    Gorski, Philip. 2003. The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Hallin, Daniel C. and Paolo Mancini. 2004. Comparing Media Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Hendriks, Eric C. 2012. Ascetic Hedonism: Self and Sexual Conquest in the Seduction Community. Cultural Analysis, 11. <http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~caforum/volume11/vol11_Hendriks.html>

    Illouz, Eva. 2008. Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help. Berkeley: University of California.

    Sennett, Richard. 1999. The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: Norton.

    Weber, Max. 2007 [1905]. Die Protestantische Ethik und der ‘Geist‘ des Kapitalismus. 1905. Erftstadt: Area Verlag.

    Yan, Yunxiang. 2010. The Chinese path to individualization. The British Journal of Sociology 61, 489-512.

  • April 09, 2015 5:59 AM | Deleted user

    Dear colleagues,

    To promote research on important topics in emerging adulthood the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (SSEA) has initiated a series of Topic Networks (TNs). Romantic Relationships is one of the new TNs. The goal of the Topic Networks is to bring together colleagues who have common interests in a specific area of emerging adulthood research or practice. The activities of the Topic Networks will depend on the ideas of the members, but may include, for example, sharing draft manuscripts for comments and suggestions; collaborating on papers and grants; sharing best practices for direct work with emerging adults; letting members know about important recent articles; collaborating on symposia to submit to an SSEA conference or related conferences; or working together to organize a preconference session.

    Dr. Rongqin Yu, at the Utrecht University, The Netherlands and Jennifer Connolly at York University, Canada, I are the co-chairs of the topic networks. As a start, we have set up a blog on young adults’ romantic relationships. Drawing on the newest scientific findings, the blog will be a forum where we discuss “hot” issues such as open relationships or romance prohibition in the workplace.

    In addition, we would like to seize the opportunity to announce that, in collaboration with the Sexuality TN we are planning a Preconference Workshop to be held in Miami, on October 13th, 2015, the day before the opening of the SSEA 2015 Conference. We hope you will be able to attend.

    To join the Romantic Relationships TN please contact the SSEA Coordinator, Megan Patterson, coordinator@ssea.org. Please note you must become a member of SSEA to join the TN.

    Warm regards,

    Prof. Dr. Jennifer Connolly and Dr. Rongqin Yu

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