Yulia Landa & David Singer
Cornell University, Weill Medical College / NY Presbuterian Hospital, NY, USA





Studies including and comparing the accounts of both partners in the relationship are conspicuous by their almost complete absence. This study explored differences in men's and women's perceptions of their past love relationships. Both partners from 10 ex-couples were interviewed separately and were asked to tell the story of their relationship. Men's and women's retrospective accounts of the same major events of their relationship and separation were analyzed using the principles of qualitative research and narrative analysis. Based on the results of qualitative analyses, findings were categorized and subjected to quantitative analyses. Results suggested that men and women differ in how they organize, remember, and interpret their experiences. It is proposed that separated men and women reconstruct their memories of the relationship by making them more consistent with the relevant culturally acceptable internalized scripts. Believing that the ex-partner did not meet the culturally justifiable expectations may serve as a cognitive strategy of coping with separation. The stories were more similar if the ex-partners reported speaking openly with each other, if they had lived together, and if they were still friends at the time of the interview. The applications of findings to couples therapy, including joint story construction, are discussed.