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December 24, 2014 / C H Thompson

Confluent love – divorced by 30

Giddens’s argues modern relationships are built on intimacy, closeness and emotion, while in the past they wereyoung divorce constructed around duty and obligation.

Traditional images of romantic love are often viewed as ‘forever after’ what we term monogamous love. Yet the reality is ‘romantic love’ tends to let us down and because of this sociologists like Giddens’ talk of confluent love (it sometimes easier to view confluent love as contemporary love).

Contemporary love is where people separate or divorce when the relationship isn’t working for them. Hence modern relationships ‘confluent love’ only lasts as long as partners find satisfaction and fulfillment which contrasts with the sense of duty or economic dependence more traditionally seen as being the adhesive which holds couples together.

Giddens writes: ‘Unlike romantic love, confluent love is not necessarily monogamous, in the sense of sexual exclusiveness. What holds the pure relationship together is the acceptance on the part of each partner, ‘until further notice’, that each gains sufficient benefit from the relation to make its continuance worthwhile. Sexual exclusiveness here has a role in the relationship to the degree to which the partners mutually deem it desirable or essential’  (from Giddens (1992).

Giddens’ ideas might go some way in explaining frequency of divorce being at its highest among couples in their 20s. The following articles discusses the growing trend it what has become termed ‘starter marriages’ and the stigma of being ‘left on the shelf’.

Can you imagine the avert below having any meaning to the audience if a sense of duty was the only keeping couples together?


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