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Older women in particular face social, demographic, and personal barriers; men aged 65 and older are nearly twice as likely as women to be married, and widowers are nearly three times as likely to be dating 18 months following their partner's loss compared to widows.The term significant other gained popularity during the 1990s, reflecting the growing acceptance of 'non-heteronormative' relationships.Romantic relationships may exist between two people of any gender, or among a group of people (see polyamory).The single defining quality of a romantic relationship is the presence of love. Hazan and Shaver define love, using Ainsworth's attachment theory, as comprising proximity, emotional support, self-exploration, and separation distress when parted from the loved one.The study of interpersonal relationships involves several branches of the social sciences, including such disciplines as sociology, communication studies, psychology, anthropology, and social work.
Two popular definitions of love are Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love and Fisher's theory of love.Sternberg defines love in terms of intimacy, passion, and commitment, which he claims exist in varying levels in different romantic relationships.Fisher defines love as composed of three stages: attraction, romantic love, and attachment.Interpersonal relationships are dynamic systems that change continuously during their existence.Like living organisms, relationships have a beginning, a lifespan, and an end.
Psychological research has painted a much tamer picture.