Sat, Feb 14, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Financial crisis affecting relationships, survey says

CLOSE TO YOU A professor advised young people to mingle more at social gatherings instead of staying in groups and talking only to people they are familiar with

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

As much as 14 percent of people in Taiwan over 20 years of age say they have trouble developing intimate relationships, a condition that is especially prevalent among those who have been laid off work recently, a survey said yesterday.

The survey was conducted by researchers from Fu Jen Catholic University under the direction of the Mental Health Foundation. The researchers interviewed 1,114 adults by telephone from September to October on questions ranging from developing intimate relationships to being in romantic relationships, satisfaction with one's own sexual role and thoughts on sex-change procedures.

Fourteen percent of respondents who said they had difficulty developing intimate relationships scored an average of 73.4 points on the foundation's mental health assessment. Compared with the average respondent's score of 80.1 points, those who have trouble getting close also displayed symptoms of a slightly less than healthy mental condition, said project leader Tom Yang (楊聰財), who is also chief psychiatrist at Cardinal Tien Hospital's department of psychiatry and mental health.

Of the respondents who are currently looking for a job, as much as 21 percent say they have trouble being intimate, significantly higher than those who are currently employed (12 percent).

“The reason the foundation is releasing these statistics on the day before Valentine's Day is to remind everyone that it is more important for couples to maintain close, quality relationships rather than spending money on expensive gifts,” Yang said. “We hope that the number of unhappy people will not rise with the unemployment rate.”

As much as 2.2 million Taiwanese adults have never been in an intimate relationship, and this group generally scored lower than average on mental health assessment tests, the survey showed.

A National Taiwan University professor attributed this in part to social conventions and a lack of opportunities for members of the opposite sex to meet.

“There are few social events in which young people can meet members of the opposite sex,” said Edwin Yen (晏涵文), a professor at the university's Department of Health Promotion and Health Education. “As a result, many adults have long passed their teenage years but have never been in a relationship.”

“We lack the environment for people to develop romantic relationships,” he added.

Yen advised young people attending parties to mingle more with members of the opposite sex, instead of only talking in cliques or with people they are familiar with.

“Being in an intimate relationship is an important aspect of healthy living,” he said.

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