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However, widowed respondents were much less interested in a date with a cancer survivor, and women showed less interest in a cancer survivor during active follow-up relative to survivors beyond follow-up. Cancer survivors do not have to expect any more problems in finding a date than people without a cancer history, and can wait a few dates before disclosing.
Survivors dating widowed people and survivors in active follow-up could expect more hesitant reactions and should disclose earlier. Finding a romantic partner is a central goal in life for most people and essential for well-being [ 1 , 2 ]. Especially when dealing with a stressful life event as cancer, having a partner can be advantageous: Partnered people on active cancer treatment adapt better both physically and psychologically as compared to those without a partner [ 3 — 13 ]. However, knowledge about establishing a new relationship following cancer is lacking. In addition, several studies showed that cancer survivors are less often married or partnered as compared to healthy peers [ 15 — 17 ].
As a result, there is a growing population of single cancer survivors who will be faced with finding a new partner after they completed their treatment. Qualitative studies revealed several issues that cancer survivors experience when they are looking for a partner. For example, survivors reported feeling insecure and different [ 18 ], feeling negative about their bodies [ 19 ] or less sexually desirable, while they can also worry about late effects like infertility, and whether this could be a deal breaker for future partners [ 18 , 20 ].
Survivors specifically worry about negative reactions from potential partners toward their appearance and fear rejections, making the disclosure of their cancer history more difficult [ 21 — 24 ]. However, dating and initiating a relationship depends on two people. Investigating the attitude of healthy individuals towards cancer survivors as potential romantic partners is essential in order to understand how relationship formation might be affected by cancer.
How individuals think about starting a relationship with someone who has had cancer is unknown, but we do know that people have a tendency to react negatively to others who are ill or disabled. Many people are distressed by thinking or actually meeting a cancer patient, and as a result avoid contact, leaving patients feeling socially isolated [ 25 — 28 ]. Another study found similar negative sentiments and distancing in the general population, especially among people who have had fewer personal experience with cancer [ 30 ].
However, attitudes about cancer may have improved more recently, due to media presentations of people treated for cancer as being courageous [ 32 , 33 ]. We embedded cancer information in a subtle way into these vignettes rather than directly asking people about their interest in dating cancer survivors to account for social desirability. Interest in dating a cancer survivor may also differ by gender. Although men place relatively more value on physical attractiveness and women on social status [ 34 , 35 ], they both value health, dependability, stability, education and intelligence in a long-term mate [ 36 , 37 ].
However, women are usually the more choosy sex, meaning that they are less open for romantic contact than men and more critical when they search for a partner. From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, women have evolved to be the more choosier sex, where they look for traits in a partner that increase the chance of protection, provision and investment in potential children. This is a result of women having much higher parental investment being pregnant, nursing. Thus, a mistake in mate choice, and consequently having a child with a wrong mate, is costlier in all aspects for women than it is for men.
Studies show how women, all around the world, value dependability, stability, education and intelligence in a long- term mate more than men do [ 37 ].princessadeja.com/includes/skagit/4600-bueyuenuen-yerini-bulmak.php
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Also, men are more willing to compromise on the traits they ideally desire in a potential partner than women, meaning that men would accept mates that do not meet all of their requirements more than women would, for example regarding health [ 39 ]. We hypothesize that 1 single people will be less interested in dating a cancer survivor than a similar partner without a cancer history. We further hypothesize that women will be less interested in romantic contacts than men, and 2 that this difference will be more pronounced if the potential partner is a cancer survivor.
To test our hypotheses, we conducted three experimental vignette studies among members of a national Dutch dating website experiment 1 and university students experiment 2 and 3 , using fictive profiles of a potential dating partner. Many singles look for a potential date or partner online ever since dating websites became available [ 40 ]. To study reactions to a cancer survivor among single people who are actively looking for a date or partner, we chose to recruit participants who were members of a dating website. Participants were presented with a written profile of either a cancer survivor or someone without a cancer history while other aspects were kept identical.
Members of a dating website have different relationship histories, ranging from never-married, to divorced, or widowed. It has been found that a change from being married to unmarried either divorced or widowed is related to lower well-being, as compared to those who were never married [ 2 , 43 , 44 ]. It might be that people who have experienced the loss of a partner are less interested in making contact with a cancer survivor, as cancer invokes ideas about death and potentially losing a partner again [ 26 ].
Therefore we hypothesize 3 that people who are divorced or widowed will show less interest in dating a cancer survivor than single people who did not experience divorce or death of a spouse. An invitation to participate in a study evaluating dating profiles was advertised by three Dutch dating websites, indicating the study was done by the University of Groningen.
One website advertised the link to the online survey in their bi-weekly email newsletter sent to members, the other two posted the ad on their blog or website. The online survey started with informing participants about the voluntary and anonymous character of this study done by the University of Groningen. They were asked to indicate their consent by ticking a box and could then proceed to the questionnaire not ticking the box would let them exit the questionnaire.
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Basic demographic questions about gender, education level, marital status single, divorced, widowed, in a relationship , sexual orientation, and geographic region were asked. Respondents were then randomly assigned to the experimental vignettes. The dating profile was introduced as following: How people present themselves in their profile can have a big impact on the number of responses they get. Next , we will show you a transcript of a profile text , without a picture due to privacy reasons.
The person in the profile is selected by the computer: The description entailed work teacher , hobbies playing tennis and mountain biking , and personality characteristics social, spontaneous, active, funny and sometimes stubborn. This description was the same for the two conditions. In the middle of the profile, the manipulation was presented. The Ethical Committee of the psychology department of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, approved this study ppo After reading the vignette, respondents indicated on a visual analog scale of 0—10 i. We report scores for each of these characteristics separately.
A univariate general linear model with interest in a date as dependent variable and condition healthy vs. In the healthy condition, interest did not differ by relationship status S1 Fig and Table 2. Mean Standard Deviation , all scales ranged from 0—10;. The healthy trait was positively, albeit weakly to moderately correlated with the likelihood to date this person in both conditions, meaning that the more healthy they assessed the presented person, the more interested they were in dating them Table 3.
Overall, the traits correlated in a similar way and strength with interest in a date between the healthy and the cancer condition, except for athletic. Among members of a dating website, interest in dating a cancer survivor was lower than interest in a comparable person without a cancer history. Although this finding supported our first hypothesis, this difference was negligible in effect size.
Women were found to be less interested in a date than men supporting our second hypothesis , but this gender difference did not depend on whether the potential partner had cancer or not. Our third hypothesis, that divorced and widowed people would be less interested in dating a cancer survivor was only supported for widowed people. We expected to find the same difference for divorced people, but that was not the case.
It may be that specifically losing a partner to death makes widowed people reluctant to dating someone who has had cancer and might die. They may have also lost their previous partner to cancer and may want to avoid going through such an experience again. Therefore, it can be expected that having had cancer is relevant for older survivors looking for a new partner, as they are more likely to encounter someone who is widowed. Although this experiment was done in a highly relevant context i.
We noticed that respondents were not very likely to see themselves dating the presented person i. We speculate that a missing picture may be a vital reason for this overall low interest. Looks are an extremely important first trigger of interest [ 45 ]. In order to improve upon this potential pitfall, we decided to include a profile picture in our second experiment. Because members of a dating website are a diverse population when it comes to age and previous relationship status, we aimed to test our hypotheses in a more homogeneous group of young adult single people.
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In early adulthood, other reasons for dating may prevail in comparison to older adulthood. While older adults might aim for marriage, young adults tend to aim for short-term partners and less relationship involvement, and desire someone who is similar to them [ 46 ].
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During this phase in life, it could be that a cancer history implies that the other person is less similar at a young age, few people have been confronted with such a serious life event , resulting in less interest. A previous experiment in a student sample showed that respondents saw themselves as less similar to someone with cancer, than a patient with a sprained ankle [ 47 ]. Also, at a young age, physical appearance and sexual traits such as passion and sexual responsiveness are considered more important in a sexual or romantic partner than at an older age [ 48 , 49 ].
To account for this, we first assessed interest in the person before learning about the cancer history to examine whether the disclosure of a cancer history would decrease this initial interest.
We then asked participants when they would like to learn about a cancer history from a dating partner. Qualitative studies reported that young adult cancer survivors sometimes struggle with when and how to tell a potential new partner about their cancer history [ 22 , 50 ], but study findings from healthy partners perspectives are missing. Students did not receive credits for their participation, but were informed that this study was part of their colloquium and that they would be informed about the results in an upcoming lecture.