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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Does Love Depend on Geography?

A new study conducted by researchers in New York and Moscow says that buying a house and falling in love have one big thing in common -- both are all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

The joint study was designed to explore a fascinating topic - whether love is a "universally uniform concept". It was performed by the USA's State University of New York at New Paltz and Russia's Moscow State University. 1157 adults from Russia, Lithuania and the good ole' USA were asked to respond to 14 different statements about love. The US and Russia were picked because we've traditionally been considered to be polar opposites of each other. Lithuania was selected to participate because the researchers thought it represented a mid-way point between American and Russian cultures.

The study found that Eastern Europeans and Americans fall in love differently and view romantic love in totally different ways. Eastern Europeans fall in love much faster than Americans - 90% of Lithuanians and Russians have fallen in love within a month and 39% of those fell in love within a few days. Most Americans, 58%, say that it took them between 2 months and a year to fall in love. So Europeans are more romantic, right?

Wrong. Eastern Europeans consider love to be a temporary and unimportant state. They fall in fast, but they also fall out of love fast. And is that romantic? I think -- nyet.

"The idea that romantic love was temporary and inconsequential was frequently cited by Lithuanian and Russian informants, but not by U.S. informants," the researchers write in the journal Cross-Cultural Research. The Eastern Europe participants also referred to romantic love as "a stage," "unreal" and a "fairytale."

All of the groups considered friendship to be real and enduring and all considered that friendship carries expectations of honesty, loyalty and comfort. However, only Americans considered that friendship and comfort were required attributes of romantic love. Participants were asked to write down all the things they associated with love. The word "friendship" is completely absent from the over 500 things listed by Europeans as relating to love. Yet "friendship" was in the top 3 for Americans, appearing in 27% of the responses.

Cultural differences may account for friendship being important to romantic love for Americans and irrelevant to it for Eastern Europeans. After all, Eastern Europe is much more of a patriarchal society. In Eastern Europe, men run things whereas America's Anglo-Saxon culture gives women much more of a voice. Viewed that way, it makes sense that in Eastern Europe men would look for friendship from men and in America men and women expect friendship from both sexes.

However, the cultures agreed on the most important aspect of romantic love. All listed togetherness or being together as number 1. It was ranked first by 38% of Americans, 45% of Lithuanians and 50% of Russians. One of the most fun parts of romantic love - sex- was ranked differently by each culture - #2 for Russians, #7 for Americans and #9 for Lithuanians.

Here's how those lists of things associated with love broke down:


  1. Being together 50%

  2. Joy 20%

  3. Walk 17.5%

  4. Emotional upsurge 17.5%

  5. Happy 16.25%

  6. Kiss 15%

  7. Do things together 11.25%

  8. Temporary 11.25%

  9. Sex 11.25%

  10. Attention 10%

  11. Love talk 10%

  12. Surprise 10%

  13. Passion 8.75%

  14. Cinema 8.75%

  15. Travel 8.75%

  16. Tender 8.75%

  17. Attachment 8.75%

  18. Holding hands 8.75%


  1. Being together 45%

  2. Sex 25%

  3. Walking 24%

  4. Unreal 20%

  5. Beach/sea 19%

  6. Joyful 16%

  7. Travel 15%

  8. Moon stars 15%

  9. Candelight dinner 13%

  10. Night 11%

  11. Kiss 10%

  12. Talking 10%

  13. Fairytale 9%

  14. Delusion 9%

  15. Crazy 8%

  16. Holding hands 6%


  1. Being Together 38%

  2. Happy 35%

  3. Friendship 27%

  4. Mutual 20%

  5. Care 13%

  6. Love 13%

  7. Sex 13%

  8. Comfortable 11%

  9. Connection 10%

  10. Secure 10%

  11. Do Anything 10%

  12. Trust 9%

  13. Commitment 9%

  14. Gifts 8%

Researchers concluded that "for Eastern Europeans one will find less support by friends and family for those who have lost at love, there will be less of a discourse of betrayal, and also that the spurned lover recovers psychologically much quicker with fewer psychic wounds (however measured) than their American counterparts."

My take on all this? If romantic love is madness, then the Crazy Duck Lady is in the "write" business. :)

How about y'all - what things do you consider most important to romantic love or what activities or aspects do you most associate with romantic love?

Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Romances
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Photo credits:

Kinky Lenin

Fiddling Lithuanian woman

Hot American flag guy


  1. Interesting to compare the %s of the three groups. Regardless of how sex is thrown at us on TV and movies all the time, it wasn't at the top of the US list. Russians listed it as #2.
    Do we take more time to know each other? Sounds like a better way to me.

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