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Occasionally one can hear criticisms and judgments about people that appear reluctant to leave relationships where they are dominated and sometimes abused. Mental health counselors and therapists also feel frustrated very often when dealing with those that they deem as victims in intimate relationships. In a recent training, one such counselor expressed concern and her perplexity over the fact that one of her clients had been in three intimate relationships in the last seven years, and each was as abusive as the one prior. This tendency toward creating a blinded or suppressed self does not mean that the individuals in these dominated relationships find them pleasant or pleasing.

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Research shows relationship choices are more complicated than they appear.

Posted May 8, Reviewed by Lybi Ma. Are you attracted to a romantic partner who is commanding, powerful, assertiveand take-charge? Or do you prefer someone who is less dominant?

Your answer is likely to depend on your gender and your personality. Different women have very different reasons for seeking out a dominant partner, as do other women for seeking the opposite. There are different ways for a person to be dominant, but researchers consider social dominance to include traits like being authoritative, in control, and taking a leadership role.

Evolutionary psychologists claim that women prefer dominant partners because such men have superior genes. Evidence has shown that women prefer more dominant men when they themselves are at the most fertile point of their menstrual cycle, whereas most men do not similarly seek out dominant women. New research by Gilda Giebel and colleagues goes beyond these evolutionary explanations, which focus solely on gender differences, and examines how our individual personality traits affect the preference for dominant partners.

They also wondered how anxietyparticularly for women, might influence these preferences. In a survey, German adults 60 percent female, 63 percent students completed personality questionnaires and then measured their own preference for a dominant partner. The revealed that sensation-seekers of both genders were especially likely to prefer a dominant partner.

In particular, boredom susceptibility and disinhibition were correlated with a preference for dominant partners—while thrill-seeking was not. This suggests that those who are easily bored and engage in impulsive behaviors may choose more dominant romantic partners.

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Such partners may provide the excitement that keeps them stimulated. The researchers also examined the participants' overall levels of anxiety.

Their did reveal that there were two types of women who preferred dominant partners—those who displayed boredom susceptibility and disinhibition, and anxiety. These traits are totally uncorrelated to each other, providing evidence that these two types of women may have different motivations for seeking dominant partners. Not all anxious women showed a preference for dominant partners, however. Anxious women were more likely to score highly on the experience-seeking aspect of sensation-seeking, the researchers found, and they concluded that anxious women have two different ways of coping with their anxiety: Some seek a dominant man for protection.

But others, particularly those who seek out new and exciting experiences, may try to compensate for their anxiety by pursuing a more sophisticated, cosmopolitan and non-conformist lifestyle that involves new experiences, like travel and artistic pursuits.

These women avoid a dominant partner who may try to control them and limit their ability to pursue those experiences. Of course, there may be other explanations for this surprising pattern of. Other women may seek dominant partners because they are anxious and want protection from their mate—although other anxious women prefer the opposite, wanting less-dominant partners who allow them to explore new experiences.

Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph. Follow her on Twitter and Close Encounters.

The big, the rich, and the powerful: Physical, financial, and social dimensions of dominance in mating and attraction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37— Dominance and heterosexual attraction.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52— The dominance dilemma: Do women really prefer dominant mates? Personal Relationships, 15— You never think about my feelings: Interpersonal dominance as a predictor of emotion decoding accuracy. Emotion, 11— Dominance, prosocial orientation, and female preferences: Do nice guys really finish last? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68— Kind toward whom? Mate preferences for personality traits are target specific.

Who chooses to be dominated in a relationship?

Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 29— Psychological Science, 15— The thrill of loving a dominant partner: Relationships between preference for a dominant mate, sensation seeking, and trait anxiety. Personal Relationships. Published online before print. Sensation seeking. Kazdin Ed. The pursuit of calm can itself become a major stressor, especially if you've already tried the standard prescriptions. But there is a path through this conundrum. Gwendolyn Seidman Ph. Close Encounters. References 1 Bryan, A.

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May The High Cost of Calm The pursuit of calm can itself become a major stressor, especially if you've already tried the standard prescriptions. Back Today. Essential Re.