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Title: Men’s perceptions and lived experiences of romantic relationships : a qualitative approach using interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: Da Silva, Joanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 0296
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2012
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This study is aimed at exploring in detail men’s perceptions and lived experiences of romantic relationships. According to Relate’s (2009, 2010) statistics, in the United Kingdom there is a rise in the number of male clients who present themselves for relationship counselling. There is consequently growing interest among counselling psychologists to understand romantic relationships from a male perspective. Critical realist epistemology underpins this study and is in accord with counselling psychology - both place emphasis upon uncovering subjective truths. A review of the literature on men and romantic relationships suggests that this subject has been predominantly studied from a ‘natural science’, positivist and quantitative framework. From a critical realist position, a gap in the literature appears to be that men’s subjective experiences and personal perceptions of romantic relationships have not been fully identified and understood in their own terms. This is addressed in this study. Using a qualitative approach seven heterosexual men were interviewed. The participants were predominantly white, British, university educated and employed professionals, aged 30-39, with experience of a romantic relationship. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The findings suggest that for these seven participants, romantic relationships were understood and experienced firstly in terms of why such relationships were established and the factors that contributed to the initial encounters. Secondly, participants identified several elements which they felt were significant in sustaining their relationships. Finally, participants noted a number of salient factors that contributed to the breakdown and/or ending of their romantic relationships. The findings that emerged from the study emphasise that this particular sample of men made sense of their romantic relationships in complex, iii specific, and varied ways. The implication of this for practice is that it reminds counselling psychologists that their engagement with clients should be collaborative, whilst emphasising and respecting their subjective experiences, feelings and meanings in their own terms – fundamental components of counselling psychology philosophy. The intricate, subjective and diverse ways in which the participants made sense of their romantic relationships have provided new and richer insights into this area and make a distinctive contribution to counselling psychology and relationship theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral