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Title: Single women's experiences of partner seeking and the role of their appearance : an IPA study
Author: Torriani, Alena
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 6341
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2016
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The number of single people is increasing in the Western world. Despite this and a trend towards individualisation, women are still stigmatised for being single. Quantitative studies have shown that physical appearance and romantic relationships are two interconnected areas by demonstrating that single women who seek a partner are more sensitive to their appearance. This can have adverse psychological implications, such as body image concerns or low self-esteem. How physical appearance is experienced in the context of partner seeking remains however understudied. To address this gap, this study explores qualitatively how women feel about themselves and their appearance when seeking a partner. Eight women, who had been single for at least one year, were interviewed. Data gathered from the semistructured interviews were transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), chosen due to its in-depth exploration of the participants’ experiences. Four master themes were identified: I) The intrusive Other: Experiencing a sense of restriction when seeking a partner; II) Self-rejection when seeking a partner; III) Appearance as a means of control when seeking a partner; and IV) Feeling overwhelmed: The emotional intensity of seeking a partner. The results revealed that women who seek a partner experience several tensions regarding their appearance, their singleness and their social interactions. They are left excessively outer-focused, which is self-silencing and disconnecting. The implication for clinical practice is that counselling psychologists should acknowledge public and private aspects of distress when working with women who seek a partner. It is advised to stay with different tensions and to explore their underlying anxiety phenomenologically instead of either glamourising or pathologising women’s experiences of partner seeking. Limitations are discussed, including that this study does not consider the experiences of women who wish to remain single, which can be addressed in future research.
Supervisor: Gkouskos, Stelios Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dating (Social customs) ; Single women--Psychology