How Personal Ideals Alter Ones Perception of Love

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Love is a word that is understood by many, yet the definitions may vary. According to Lamanna, Riedmann, and Stewart (2018), researchers tend to stray from studying love itself. Rather, they study characteristics that act as measures of love such as attachment, intimacy, compassion, and infatuation. I think the reason the definition of love varies is due to there being different types of love. For instance, I love my boyfriend differently than I love my father. This is not to say that I love either any less, it is just different. Love to me is when you are able to be yourself without fear of judgement, and the other can say the same. I believe love is built off of trust, compassion, and commitment. In this paper, I will discuss how my family’s beliefs altered my perception of love in different types of relationships.

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Family Beliefs & Expectations

There are different labels society has for a relationship; one can be single, dating, in a serious romantic relationship, or married. Just like love, the definitions of some of these statuses may vary from person to person. My family raised me to believe that if you are single you are not seeing anyone, dating means you go out but it is not serious, and being in a romantic relationship is when you are solely committed to one partner. I have been dating my boyfriend for almost six years, and through this relationship I have come to learn my family’s expectations for relationships as well as develop my own. My grandparents are Catholic and do not believe in divorce. However, my parents had me out of wedlock and have been divorced for years. The ideals on love vary between the generations. My grandparents value commitment, while in contrast my parents sometimes are concerned by me being in a serious relationship since I was 16 and ask me if I am sure that this is the only relationship I want. My expectations for my current relationship are that we are committed to one another but are free to be ourselves since we are in our early 20s. It is understandable how my grandparents are unsure why my boyfriend and I are not trying to get married at our age due to studies showing that, back in the 1950’s, the average age for women to be married was 20. However, more recent studies show that this number has increased to women not being married until about 29, which could be due to the more recent values of education and joining the workforce (Lamanna, Riedmann, & Stewart, 2018). No one in my family has had an arranged marriage, therefore there is no expectation of an arranged marriage where they will pick my spouse. While I have the opportunity to choose my own spouse, it comes with the expectation that there is a mutual respect between my spouse and family, which is due to me being a part of the free-choice culture (Lamanna, 2018).

Traditional Exchange

Traditional Exchange describes how women historically were chosen for attractiveness and child bearing in exchange for a man providing stability in safety, economics, and social status (Lamanna, 2018). My grandmother fits this mold of traditional exchange, however my mother refused to not work which led to the downfall of my parents’ marriage. While I admire my mother for working and raising two children I am not as radical on the issue of not working as she is. I do not agree that it has to be the wife to stay home with the children while husband makes the money. However, I am not opposed to taking time off to stay home with the children and save on daycare spending if I am financially able to do so.


When selecting a partner to date one may have less boundaries on what they find acceptable compared to when they are selecting a lifelong partner to marry. Throughout this process one uses what social psychologists refer to as filters to decipher what qualities they value and what qualities they dislike for a spouse (Lamanna, 2018). Propinquity, or geographic ability, is a filter that can play a role when selecting a partner (Lamanna, 2018). While my boyfriend and I are currently living two hours apart, I do not think this impacts our romantic relationship. However, long term I believe we need to live together when we are married, so propinquity thus will impact the relationship in the future. Furthermore, when searching for a partner, some people may look for similar qualities that they themselves have such as race, age, religion, and social class. This is known as the demographic and social filter (Lamanna, 2018). I personally think that this can sometimes be done unintentionally. One is exposed to people of similar backgrounds in their day to day lives more often than those who differ. Therefore, picking someone who shares similar qualities may not be intentional. Furthermore, some qualities of this filter may be more important than other qualities to others. For instance, I personally want someone similar in age but their religious background is not as important to me as long as they can respect my own. In contrast, my grandparents find sharing the Catholic religion and race extremely important (Lamanna, 2018). Research from the time when my grandparents were young shows that members of the Catholic faith find it more important to marry within the same religion than it is to find a partner that is geographically close to them (Clarke,1952).


From families passing down their beliefs, expectations, and definitions on different relationships of love, we gain a sense of knowledge. However, through experiences and personal ideals, one may alter what was previously taught to them or stay within the same boundaries as their family.    

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How Personal Ideals Alter Ones Perception Of Love. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved January 28, 2023 , from

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