Relationships where one partner is ‘in charge’ are stronger and happier than those which are considered equal, a new study suggests.
Researchers from universities in Prague questioned 340 men and women about the structure of certain relationships. These included romantic partners, friends and parents.
Levels of “hierarchical dominance” were assigned to each person within those relationships. The Czech researchers pointed out that, despite the phrasing, “a mild within-pair disparity” in dominance did not imply violence.
Within a romantic couple, those which displayed a difference between the partners’ levels of “dominance” were much more common than those described as equal. Women were regarded as the dominant partner in 24.2 per cent of such couples.
Dr Eva Jozifkova of Purkyne University was one of the lead researchers on the study. She said that the results “challenge the frequently held belief in equality within couples as a trademark of functional partnerships”.
She added that many people view “even mild dominance and submissiveness as a problem”, whereas her study does not back that up. Couples who were equal had 15 per cent fewer children than their dominant counterparts.
Social pressure for equality within relationships “represent a form of oppression”, she said. Couples who exhibit similar levels of dominance will experience problems as “even minor conflicts may escalate due to competition”. On the other hand, she claimed, having one dominant partner reduces how often conflict occurs in a relationship and how intense those conflicts become.
The research titled “Why do some women prefer submissive men?” was published in the academic journal Neuroendocrinology Letters.