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Women More Clingy and Men More Distant in Relationships, Study

Update Date: Apr 11, 2013 04:37 AM EDT

A new relationship study has found that while women in relationships tend to let their lives revolve around their romantic relationships, men tend to place their romantic partners and best friends on an equal but distant footing.

The latest study from Oxford University involved a total of 341 people.  Participants took part in online psychological research forum where they answered questions about the maintenance, role and value of their best friend and romantic partnerships.

The findings reveal that women generally believe that the key to maintaining a successful romantic relationship involves teamwork and requires equal input from both partners with shared goals and beliefs. Furthermore, researchers found that women's happiness and contentment were intimately bound up in both their friendships and romantic partnerships.

On the other hand, men tended to keep their romantic partners and best friends at a greater distance.  Furthermore, when men were asked to score themselves against their best friends and romantic partners on a range of attributes, their responses suggested that, consciously or not, men continued to act as though they were still on the dating market despite being in committed relationships.

Researchers found that women preferred cooperation not competition with their best friends.  Women also seemed to place their significant other on a pedestal by consistently scoring their partner higher than themselves.

However, both men and women reported emotional extremes within their romantic partnerships, the effects of which appear to be buffered by their relationship with their best friend.  Researchers found that for both sexes, best friendships are vital sources of comfort, stability and understanding, a refuge from the stormy waters of romantic relationships.

"Our research shows that successful relationships are much more essential to women's well-being than men's. Men seem to keep their relationships at arm's length with one eye on the dating market," researcher Dr. Anna Machin from the University of Oxford said in a statement.

"It seems that regardless of our culture of monogamy and commitment the biological imperative still operates, to a greater or lesser degree, for men. The war of the sexes is still alive and kicking within our relationships," she added.

The findings will be presented April 11 at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Harrogate.

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