You are here

The Mating Game

The Mating Game
A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage

Third Edition
Additional resources:

January 2016 | 472 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The Third Edition of The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage is the only introductory text about human mating relationships aimed specifically at a university audience. Encompassing a wide array of disciplines, this comprehensive review of theory and empirical research takes an integrated perspective on the fundamental human experiences of attraction and courtship; mate selection and marriage; and love and sex. Strongly grounded in methodology and research design, the book offers relevant examples and anecdotes along with ample pedagogy that will spark debate and discussion on provocative and complex topics.

PART I. Mating Relationships
Chapter 1: Mate Preferences
Theoretical Approaches to Human Mating  
Methods Used to Examine Mate Preferences  
Empirical Evidence  
Continuing Debates  
Chapter 2: Attraction, Affiliation, and Courtship
Who Do We Like? Principles of Romantic Attraction  
Who Do We Approach? Principles of Romantic Affiliation  
How Do We Convey Romantic Interest? Principles of Flirting  
E-Courtship: Attraction, Affiliation, and Flirting in Cyberspace  
The First Date  
Beyond the First Date: Initiating a Romantic Relationship  
Pathways to Commitment  
Chapter 3: Relationship Development
The Sequence of Relationship Development  
The Process of Relationship Development  
Chapter 4: Marriage and Mate Selection
Mating Systems Across Cultures  
The Nature of Marriage  
Division of Labor  
Marital Satisfaction: How Happy Are Married Couples?  
Has Marriage Changed Over Time?  
Same-Sex Marriage  
Cohabitation: An Alternative to Marriage  
Chapter 5: Conflict and Dissolution
Relationship Dissolution  
Chapter 6: Intervention
Identifying Distressed Relationships  
Treating Distressed Relationships  
Does Therapy Work?  
Part II. Love
Chapter 7: General Theories of Love
The Triangular Theory of Love  
The Colors (Styles) of Love  
The Prototype Approach: Mental Models of Love  
Chapter 8: Passionate and Companionate Love
Passionate Love: A “Sexy” Kind of Love  
Companionate Love: A “Sturdy” Kind of Love  
Chapter 9: Love Gone Bad: Problematic Aspects of Love
Unrequited Passionate Love: When the One We Love Does Not Love Us  
Relational Stalking: When Romantic Interest Becomes Obsession  
Relational Aggression: When Love Turns Violent  
Loss of Passion: When Attraction Fades  
Chapter 10: Sexual Attitudes
Beliefs About Sex in Dating Relationships
Beliefs About Sex in Marital Relationships
Chapter 11: Sex in Beginning Relationships
Sexuality and the Attraction Process  
Sexuality in Beginning Relationships  
Chapter 12: Sex in Established Relationships
Sexual Frequency  
Sexual Practices  
Sexual Preferences  
Sexual Satisfaction  
Sexual Communication  
Sexuality and Relationship Satisfaction  
Chapter 13: Sex Gone Bad: Problematic Aspects of Relational Sex
Sexual Disinterest: When the One We Desire Does Not Desire Us  
Sexual Assault: When Sex Becomes Nonconsensual  
Sexual Infidelity: When the One We’ve Chosen Cheats  
Sexual Jealousy: A Common Response to Infidelity  
PART IV. Individual Differences
Chapter 14: Maleness and Femaleness
Biological Sex  
Psychological Gender and Gender Role Orientation  
Chapter 15: Personality
Sociosexual Orientation  
Chapter 16: Interpersonal Belief Systems
Attachment Styles  
Rejection Sensitivity  


Instructor Resources Site

Instructor Resources

  • An author-created test bank with 500+ multiple-choice questions provides a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
Key features


  • Updates in every chapter reflect current, cutting-edge theory and research, resulting in more than 400 new references.
  • Additional real-life examples have been added to chapters to capture reader interest and help illustrate the concepts under discussion.
  • Coverage of multiple, entirely new content areas includes brand new sections on romantic attraction and affiliation in initial encounters; E-courtship (attraction, courtship, and relationship formation in cyberspace); conflict termination; consensual non-monogamy and polyamorous relationships; bereavement and loss; specific components and features of passionate love; cyberstalking; and intimate partner violence.
  • Updates in Chapter 4 (Marriage and Mate Selection) reflect recent changes in the legal status of same-sex marriage in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as new research on polygamy or plural marriage, cohabitation, and the recently-identified phenomenon of “stayovers” among partners in long-term romantic unions.
  • Updated end-of-chapter discussion questions are ideal for in-class or take-home activities to encourage student involvement and active participation.


  • Comprehensive reviews of theory and empirical research on love, sex, and marriage from a variety of social and behavioral science literature highlights the links among these interrelated topics.
  • A strong grounding in methodology and research design, including coverage of a number of measurement instruments for self-use or course-related research, helps students develop a true understanding of how to interpret empirical research findings.
  • Student learning aids, such as tables and figures, chapter outlines, key terms and concepts, part openers, chapter summaries, recommended readings, and discussion questions, help students master key concepts.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 9

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.