Two surveys conducted 14 years apart on college students’ perceptions about relationship and romance show that young people now have a more pragmatic view of love, while more female respondents have moved away from gender stereotypes.
Lu Shu-yu (呂淑妤), an associate professor of public health at Taipei Medical University (TMU) and the compiler of both surveys, said the first survey was conducted in 1998, after news that a graduate student at National Tsing Hua University had brutally murdered her rival in love, generating heated discussions and debates.
A second survey was conducted in March this year by TMU and Chung Shan Medical University to gain a better understanding of younger people after the tragic killing in Tokyo of two female Taiwanese students by a Taiwanese man, Chang Chih-yang (張志揚), who later committed suicide.
“Since it has been more than a decade since the first survey, we’d like to see if there are generational differences and similarities in college students’ ideas about love,” Lu told a press conference yesterday.
While the majority of respondents think it is immoral to be part of a love triangle or multi-angle, 18.7 percent of the senior-college respondents taking the questionnaire this year said they had been involved in a love triangle, compared with 12.3 percent in 1998.
Respondents in this year’s survey are also more pragmatic and less romantic in matters of relationship, Lu said, as the number of those who believe that “love is more important than bread” dropped from 21.6 percent in 1998 to 17.5 percent.
On the issue of gender roles in a relationship, more than 40 percent of respondents in the new survey strongly agree that women can take the initiative in romantic engagements, while only 28.8 percent of respondents in 1998 thought the same way.
The new survey also shows women think being independent is the most important aspect of what makes a good female partner, while thoughtfulness took the top spot on the list in the 1998 survey.
Another interesting finding is that college-age men appear more devoted to love than women are, Lu said.
In the new survey, more than 70 percent of men agree or strongly agree that “love has no regrets,” compared with 52.1 percent of women. More than 73 percent of male respondents believe “to love is not to possess, but to make self-sacrifice,” while 55.5 percent of women believe so.
This year’s survey was distributed in 10 colleges nationwide, with 2,361 valid questionnaires returned, while the 1998 survey based its results on 638 valid samples collected from one university in northern Taipei.
Chung Shan Medical University principal Lai Te-jen (賴德仁) said safe sex is important to protect women, with both surveys showing that more than 57 percent of respondents think it is okay to have sex before marriage.
“We see many young women get pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases [STD], and most of them have a hard time telling their parents. Some get STDs after meeting with people they met on the Internet. There are also women who choose to give birth and raise children on their own,” Lai said. “To avoid regrets, one must learn how to protect oneself.”
The questionnaire consists of 10 questions and uses a four-level rating scale that ranges from strongly disagree, disagree to agree and strongly agree.