Friday, February 04, 2011

Elizabeth Ribarsky studies dating and sexual communication

There is a lot to be learned from how a couple interacts at the beginning of a relationship, but it is often an understudied area of the communication process.

Dr. Elizabeth Ribarsky, assistant professor of Communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, says research has shown the way you communicate early on in a relationship could actually dictate how you communicate over the long run. Ribarsky studies dating and sexual communication.

“When most people hear that, they’re just a little bit shocked,” she said.

Ribarsky says, early on in a relationship, couples must learn how to negotiate their individual identity as well as that of being a couple.

“It’s hard not to become interested in this area of research because it’s something we all do at some time,” said Ribarsky.

She is also interested in how the media influence our dating expectations. In a recent study, she looked at the television show “The Bachelor” and actually watched the show with a group of women to see how they talked about the show.

“Although people kind of make fun of the show, 'The Bachelor', my research has shown that it actually has a dramatic impact on how women construct what it means to date in today’s society,” she said.

Ribarsky says although we think we are much more progressive today in our dating relationships, research shows we are actually still looking for the “fairy tale” romance. Our dating scripts today are still very similar to the 1950s, with the man expected to be dominant in the relationship. This friction between new and old expectations can lead to problems.

“It creates this unusual juxtaposition between what we think we should be doing and what we want. When there’s that violation there, it actually, in the long run, tends to decrease our satisfaction with our relationships themselves,” she said.

Ribarsky often incorporates her research into the classroom, saying students have "a lot of interest" in learning about their own relationships. She plans to continue her research and is currently working to get a number of articles published.


Anonymous said...

Great Article! Glad to hear about the research interests of faculty in the Communication department.

Nicholas Jensen said...

This augments a great deal of what I am interested in and echoes a particular facet of research I conducted myself for my Masters Degree while at the University of Northern Iowa. Very interesting research area and one which is ripe to be cultivated adding to the literature on the complexity of human relational dynamics.