Making up and breaking up: The changing commitments of age-dissimilar couples

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Recently, social scientists’ investigations of couples have emphasised historical changes like the growing idealisation of romantic love, greater personal autonomy in relationships, and the rising significance of distance and divorce. Much of this discussion—particularly Eva Illouz’s theorisation of ‘cold intimacies’—centres on the idea that obligation and commitment are losing out to individualised relationships and short-term pleasure. The growing prevalence of age-dissimilar couples is seen as reflecting this shift. In interviews with age-dissimilar couples in Australia, however, I found that, alongside fulfilment and free choice, commitment and obligation are enduring themes in people’s accounts of their personal lives. Here I explore how these couples’ talk about the beginnings and ends of their relationships reflects a dual logic: that love should be lasting and fulfilling.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRomantic relationships in a time of ‘cold intimacies’
EditorsJulia Carter, Lorena Arocha
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030292560
ISBN (Print)9783030292553
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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