Men’s perceptions and lived experiences of romantic relationships: a qualitative approach using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Da Silva, Joanne 2012. Men’s perceptions and lived experiences of romantic relationships: a qualitative approach using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsDa Silva, Joanne
TypeProf Doc Thesis

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,
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.

Keywordsperception; men; relationships
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Publication dates
Print04 Apr 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Apr 2012
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