Father absence and sexual partner preference amongst women in Masvingo urban, Zimbabwe

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Herbert Zirima


Father absence is a trend that has been on the surge globally and locally, and its effects can be felt in children’s lives up to adulthood. This study sought to explore how father absence mediates sexual partner preference amongst women who would have grown without their biological fathers. This was achieved by comparing the sexual partner preferences of women who grew up without fathers against those who grew up with their fathers. A quantitative approach was taken, particularly employing an ex post facto research design. A one-stage cluster sampling strategy was used to select 392 women, who participated in this study. Of the 392 participants, 168 were women who had grown up in father-absent homes, whereas the remaining 224 had grown up with a resident father. A standardised instrument, the mate preference questionnaire, was used to collect data. This study revealed that father absence influences the preference of a sexual partner, particularly the age gap with the preferred romantic partner, physical aspects of the sexual partner and values about chastity. Women who grew up in fatherless homes showed a preference for good looks and masculinity in a romantic over issues such as good financial prospect and ambitiousness and industriousness. The most preferred characteristic expressed by women who emerged from father-absent homes was that the romantic partner should be a father figure. This study recommends that voluntary organisations that promote fatherhood programs should be set up to raise awareness on the importance of fathering. Moreover, future research should explore the impact of father absence amongst married women so as to ascertain if father absence affects relationships within a marriage.


Keywords: Partner preference, father absence, romantic partner, women, relationship.


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Zirima, H. (2020). Father absence and sexual partner preference amongst women in Masvingo urban, Zimbabwe. Global Journal of Psychology Research: New Trends and Issues, 10(1), 85-94. https://doi.org/10.18844/gjpr.v10i1.4116