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Title: "It was like the Titanic, with the iceberg" : middle-aged (40-65yo) men's lived experiences of loneliness within intimate partner relationships (LIPRs)
Author: Henrich, Megan
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 0611
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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Loneliness is ubiquitous; it can occur when one is alone or in the presence of others, including within intimate partner relationships (IPRs). Existing research into loneliness within intimate partner relationships (LIPRs) predominantly focuses on questions of causality and/or 'cure', very little examines the lived experience of this phenomenon. Research that does address the lived experience of LIPRs focuses on women's experiences. However, there is a lack of literature into men's experiences, resulting in a gap in understandings of this phenomenon. The current research addresses this gap by examining the lived experience of LIPRs amongst a sample of 6 middle-aged men. Participants took part in semi-structured interviews that focused on exploring their lived and felt experiences of LIPRs. The transcribed interview data was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results illustrated that LIPRs was experienced as a distressing phenomenon, characterised by a sense of paradox, as participants were both 'with' but also separate from their partners. Furthermore, it took on an insidious quality; it was felt as a phenomenon that creeps into one's relationship slowly, quietly, and often unnoticed. Additionally, conceptualisations of masculinity seemed to exert an influence over how the participants experienced LIPRs. There was a sense of self-consciousness around sharing feelings of LIPRs with other men and an awareness that doing so might compromise one's sense of masculinity. The impact that masculinity had on the participants' experiences of LIPRs formed a key finding of the research and is discussed in light of Butler's theory of gender performativity (1990) and Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity (2005). Thus situating this finding within a broader social-cultural context and facilitating a holistic understanding of this aspect of middle-aged men's experiences of LIPRs. Limitations of the research are considered and recommendations made for future research.
Supervisor: Rumble, Ben Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral