Fatal attractions: Affection and disaffection in intimate relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This research investigates the extent to which a quality that initially attracts one person to another in a romantic relationship is a positive dimension of the same overall characteristic that leads to subsequent disaffection - i.e. a 'fatal attraction'. Three hundred and one college women and men were asked to think of the most recent romantic relationship they had that ended, and to list qualities that first attracted them to that partner and characteristics they later 'least liked' about that partner. Results indicate that there were approximately 88 instances (in 29.2% of the breakups) of what appeared to be 'fatal attractions'. Certain types of characteristics, such as exciting and different, were also more likely to be 'fatal' than others. Additional findings point to sex differences in attracting qualities, with, for example, males reporting significantly more qualities than females in the Physical category. Implications of the results for dialectical relationship theories are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-311
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Fatal attractions: Affection and disaffection in intimate relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this