Ambiguity in Romantic Relationship Terminology

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Dakota Wilson, Snow College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Ambiguity in language throughout history has always caused problems. In every field there are instances where words mean different things to different people. There seems to be more and more instances today where there is ambiguity in romantic relationship terminology and it is causing confusion and dissatisfaction. In the beginning of the 20th century words like “calling” or “going steady” were popular to describe romantic relationships whereas today “hooking up” and “hanging out” are the dominant terms. Although there have been studies that are very similar to this subject, there is little to no research exactly like it. This study has been made to assess what terminology is being used today to describe relationship terminology, why it has changed over (generational and cultural influences), and how these changes affect the satisfaction of the relationship. Methodology comprised creating a survey, a portion of which was taken from pre-validated tools such as the MSI-R to assess relationship satisfaction. Other portions included basic demographic information, current relationship terminology used, short answer where the participants were asked to describe situations in which they would use particular terms now and in middle school, in which social situations they would use certain terminology, and domains as to what each relationship term entailed in regards to behavior (these were based off of the categories in the MSI-R). The last section asked about terminology that was used in the participants youth to avoid disapproval of cultural or religious leaders if an exclusive relationship was unacceptable but was occurring regardless. Results are in the process of being analyzed.