Women’s Leisure Behaviour Within Romantic Relationships

women's leisure behaviour within romantic relationships

Do woman change their leisure behaviour when they become romantically attached?  Research indicates that women may be more inclined to change their leisure behaviour to suit their partner’s needs in romantic relationships, compared to men. The research suggests that women are socially conditioned to gender roles of femininity which they may adopt and play out in their everyday lives. 

Some women may adhere to gender roles more strongly than others. But nevertheless research suggests that all women are exposed to ideologies of femininity to some degree. Stereotypical social conditioning for women suggests that women are more passive, nurturing, caring, submissive, and nurturing, caring, submissive, and accommodating. While a man’s social conditioning suggests that they may be more domineering, controlling, and emotionally restrained. 

How do gender roles influence the choices women may make about their leisure behaviour in romantic relationships? Women who may adhere to more traditional ideologies of femininity and romantic love, may choose to give up their leisure choices to accommodate their partner’s desires. This choice may lead to inequality, and may disadvantage women in romantic relationships. C. Gilligan’s (1982)  research suggested that one prominent component of feminine ideology is the “ethic of care.”  

The ethic of care suggests that women are socialised to cater for the needs of others over their own needs. This form of socialisation leads women to become “other oriented” and identify themselves in terms of relationships they have with other people, which may include their intimate partner. While caring for other people is important, it can also lead to a person placing their own needs secondary in their intimate, and other relationships. This in turn may lead to feelings of being unfulfilled and unhappy. 

Research has suggested that women who internalise the ethic of care may experience increased leisure constraints. Women with a strong ethic of care may experience a lack of entitlement to leisure. And they may believe that they do not have the same right to leisure as men. For some women in this situation, they may also feel guilty for engaging in autonomous leisure experiences. And they may place greater importance on their partner’s leisure over their own preferences.

Research has also shown that women who have a greater dependency on their romantic partner are more preoccupied with the relationship. And they may allow the relationship to become the main focus of their lives. In the past, this type of behaviour was considered to be the norm because it supported traditional gender roles. Socialisation and traditional romantic ideologies may still lead young women in Western cultures to believe their priority is to establish a romantic relationship and marry. Women who make relationships the centre of their lives, may be more likely to sacrifice important aspects of their lives for their romantic partner.

Through traditional gender roles, women may be expected to take primary responsibility for making their romantic relationships work. This may occur because there is an expectation that women will be the care taker and emotional worker in their relationships. This had lead to the term, the “feminisation of love.” This often places women in the difficult position of feeling responsible when their romantic relationship sours. 

Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand