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Treating Men in Search of Intimacy & Connection
Male intimacy continuing education MFT CEU

Section 26
Love-Styles and Self-Silencing

Question 26 | Test | Table of Contents | Couples
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

Six love styles have been theorized to be related to several personality constructs (e.g., self-esteem) (Lee, 1973). Despite the interpersonal nature of love, investigations have yet to evaluate related variables and their association to love styles in romantic relationships. As a stable cognitive schema, silencing the self is proposed to account for gender differences in rates of depression. To augment the validity of this construct, a study examined the relationship between Lee's love styles and silencing the self for men and women. A sample of 826 male and female introductory psychology students completed the Love Attitudes Inventory and the Self-Silencing Inventory. Stepwise regression analyses were conducted separately for men and women to assess the relative prediction of self-silencing from the six styles of love. Self-silencing was significantly predicted by mania for men, and by ludus, mania, eros, and agape for women. We discuss the sociocultural explanations for gender differences in love styles associated with self-silencing and potential implications for counselling individuals in romantic relationships.

As a cognitive schema, self-silencing represents the need to silence certain feelings, thoughts, and actions to create and maintain safe and intimate interpersonal relationships (Cramer, Gallant, & Langlois, 2005; Cramer & Thorns, 2003; Duarte & Thompson, 1999; Jack & Dill, 1992; Thompson, Whiffen, & Aube, 2001). Though originally identified to investigate gender-specific schemas associated with depression in women (Jack, 1987, 1991), self-silencing research has now been successfully applied to models of male intimacy (e.g., Gratch, Bassett, & Attra, 1995). Given that self-silencing routinely occurs in intimate relationships, and given that men and women adopt unique cognitive styles in their approach to romantic relationships, it may prove fruitful to explore which set of relationship-based variables can reliably predict this self-silencing pattern of behaviours. These findings may not only highlight gender differences in attitudes towards intimate relationships impacting on self-expression, but they may also open new avenues for identifying, counselling, and repairing struggling relationships.

Jack (1987,1991,1996) introduced self-silencing as a sociocultural explanation of higher depression rates in women (e.g., Donnelly, 1999; Sachs-Ericsson & Ciarlo, 2000; Weich, Sloggett, & Lewis, 2001). Jack and Dill (1992) proposed that women form a concept of self based on their interpersonal relationships, so that depression in women results from a failure to establish or participate in close genuine relationships with valued others. By living within an individualistic and patriarchical North American culture, women's need for connectedness becomes devalued. Consequently, women learn to repress the relational part of their self as they adopt the dominant cultural schema, primarily through the process of gender-role socialization (Duarte & Thompson, 1999; Hart & Thompson, 1996; Thompson, 1995; Thompson et al., 2001). Women's attempts to form and maintain their relationships can lead to an extreme, even pathological, set of cognitive schemas, namely silencing the self. Silencing behaviours include putting the needs of others first, censoring and repressing genuine emotion, and judging one's self according to external standards. The negative effects of self-silencing include decreased self-esteem, feelings of loss of self over time, and the development of depressive symptomatology (Jack, 1991). These negative effects highlight the dire necessity of conducting further research into self-silencing.

Jack's (1991) longitudinal study of clinically depressed women led to the development of the Silencing the Self Scale (STSS), a 31-item Likert-style inventory that taps specific schemas linked to the establishment and maintenance of intimate relationships. Jack and Dill (1992) indicate that the STSS items reflect culturally derived cognitive schemas that guide women's social behaviours and self-assessment, rather than personality traits. Psychometric investigations of the STSS have demonstrated good reliability and validity (e.g., Jack & Dill, 1992). Despite its roots in a schematic tendency utilized by women, the scale has also been administered to men and yielded comparable results. Curiously, scores on the self-silencing scale have been positively related to depression and negatively related to achievement motivation for both men and women (Carr, Gilroy, & Sherman, 1996; Cramer et al., 2005; Gratch et al, 1995; Page, Stevens, & Galvin, 1998; Remen, Chambless, & Rodebaugh, 2002; Spratt, Sherman, & Gilroy, 1998). Contrary to expectation, several studies have found higher levels of self-silencing among men (Cramer & Thoms, 2003; Duarte & Thompson, 1999; Gratch et al., 1995; Page et al., 1996). However, non-significant gender differences have also been observed (Spratt et al., 1998). It seems that both men and women self-silence in their interpersonal relationships, but may do so for different reasons (see Gratch et al., 1995).

Jack (1987,1991) posited that women fear that their verbal self-expression will be both unacceptable to their male partners and contrary to traditional feminine roles. To avoid conflict that might end the relationship, women actively suppress aspects of the self that their partner might find confrontational and undesirable. Essentially, women's self-silencing may stem from a reluctance to express themselves, either because of directives implicit in unequal relationships or from the moral imperative to care for and not hurt others (Gilligan, 1982; Gratch et al., 1995). Jack (1991) believed the adoption of this cognitive schema would eventually result in a division of the self into the "authentic self" and "outward self." The outward self is created as a fit "into an image provided by someone else--the husband, parental teachings, the culture" (p. 32). Jack acknowledged that this process could be self-imposed or enforced by a domineering partner. It was also emphasized that women learn to engage in self-silencing behaviour through the process of gender-role socialization.

Conversely, men's reasons for self-silencing have been thought to stem from issues of order and control. Gratch et al. (1995) asserted that men either actively withhold their thoughts and feelings to maintain power in their dyadic relationship or lack the emotional vocabulary required to communicate their needs (Balswick, 1988; Rabinowitz & Cochran, 1994). Early research addressing gender differences in the avoidance of self-disclosure showed that men's reasons for avoiding self-disclosure involved issues of control in the relationship, whereas women's reasons centred around avoidance of being hurt (Rosenfeld, 1979).

Love Styles in Women and Men
Because self-silencing develops out of the management of intimate relationships, it can be argued that this cognitive style is linked to other gender-specific relationship styles. Lee (1973) proposed a multidimensional approach to the classification of intimacy based on six unique styles of love, with three primary types (eros, ludus, and storge), and three secondary styles (mania, pragma, and agape) to represent qualitative transformations of the "base primary elements" (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992; Lord, 1997; Taraban & Hendrick, 1995). Erotic love entails a deep physical attraction, based primarily on sexual pleasure. Ludic lovers are game-players who treat love like a contest or sport, best played with several partners in ongoing relationships. They enjoy the passion and intimacy of the relationship, but have little or no commitment (Dion & Dion, 1973) and tend to be manipulative. Storgic love is indistinguishable from lasting friendship, and is considered to be honest, loyal, and mature. This style is solid, down-to-earth, and presumably enduring in nature. Manic lovers want complete union with their partner, and are miserable and jealous if they do not get all of their lover's attention. Individuals who use a pragmatic style are more logical and rationally focusing on the desired attributes of the lover and might use criteria-matching when seeking a partner. They treat love like a legally binding contract, acting cool and detached. Finally, altruistic or agapic lovers put their partner's happiness above their own; they sacrifice for the sake of love and are committed, caring, and giving.

Relationship styles vary in emotional intensity across individuals and vary across various relationships for any given individual (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Richardson, Medvin, & Hammock, 1988). Indeed, Lee (1973) originally discussed the styles as a typology, but posited further that a person could utilize different love styles concurrently in their interpersonal relationships, implying that any given style is based on relationship needs rather than personality. Lord (1997) and Hendrick and Hendrick (1988) explain that both men and women simultaneously use more than one style of love, and these styles do vary over time. For instance, couples are more likely to use agapic and erotic styles at the beginning of the relationship (e.g., Davies, 1996; Hendrick & Hendrick, 1989; Mallandain & Davies, 1994).

Lee (1973) identifies variations in socio-cultural background as leading to gender-specific love styles. For instance, research consistently shows that men more often utilize a ludic style in relationships, whereas women more likely exhibit a manic, pragmatic, and/or storgic style (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1984, 1986, 1988). Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) found that men and women in the United States more often use the agapic and erotic love styles, but Davies (1996) found that in the United Kingdom, it was males who were more likely to display agapic and erotic styles. Investigations into the quality of heterosexual relationships have found women to be most satisfied with men who are agapic and erotic (Morrow, Clark, & Brock, 1995) and least satisfied with men who are ludic and pragmatic (Lord, 1997). Men similarly were most satisfied in relationships with women who were erotic, and least satisfied with women who were pragmatic (Lord, 1997). Several theorists observe that variance in love styles parallels gender differences in attitudes toward sexuality (e.g., Ferrell, Tolone, & Walsh, 1977; Medora & Woodward, 1982). For instance, men and women differ in the sexual attitude of permissiveness--men are typically more permissive than women (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1988; Hendrick, Hendrick, Slapion-Foote, & Foote, 1985), a finding consistent with ludic love (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1992). In contrast, women are traditionally socialized to be conservative in sexual attitudes, seeking one love partner and potential provider (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986), which may account for higher levels of mania, pragma, and storge love styles in women. In short, exploring gender differences in love styles associated with self-silencing may shed light on reasons why men and women engage in this detrimental schema.
- Collins, Kerry; Cramer, Kenneth & Jill Singleton-Jackson; Love styles and self-silencing in romantic relationships; Guidance & Counseling; Spring/Summer 2005; Vol. 20; Issue ¾.

Personal Reflection Exercise #12
The preceding section contained information about love styles and self-silencing. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section of the Manual in your practice.  Affix extra paper for your Journaling entries to the end of this Manual.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Cloutier, B., Francoeur, A., Samson, C., Ghostine, A., & Lecomte, T. (2021). Romantic relationships, sexuality, and psychotic disorders: A systematic review of recent findings. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 44(1), 22–42.

Karbelnig, A. M. (2018). The geometry of intimacy: Love triangles and couples therapy. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 35(1), 70–82.

Richter, M., & Schoebi, D. (2021). Rejection sensitivity in intimate relationships: Implications for perceived partner responsiveness. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 229(3), 165–170.

What are some examples of self-silencing behaviors? Record the letter of the correct answer the Test.

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