Ninety-six percent of low-income mothers who participated in a recent study on gender-based distrust indicated a strong general feeling of distrust of the opposite sex. However, this general distrust towards men did not prevent them from entering into a marriage, live-in, or romantic relationship. Furthermore, the union was often later described by some of the women as "trusting," despite their prior assertions of distrust and insecurity.
The results of the study are published in a recent issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.
In order to successfully live and cope in these relationships the women often suspended, compartmentalized, misplaced, or integrated their trust behaviors to accommodate their partners and to facilitate a relationship. The mothers' individual experiences with uncertainty and poverty and their histories as domestic violence or sexual abuse victims directly determined the type of interpersonal trust they chose to enact.
Women in the study tended to create interpersonal trust in their partners that differed from their general attitudes about distrusting men. Several of these forms of trust allowed women to enter into unhealthy relationships that had serious implications for themselves and their children, emotionally, mentally, and economically.
The authors argued that reducing the use of alternative forms of trust (e.g., misplaced) would allow women to spend time forging intimate partnerships that are more likely to lead to strong, lasting, healthy marriages. They also indicated that these findings have implications for the romantic union trusting behaviors of women regardless of race or social class.
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