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    Partner support for individual self-expansion opportunities: Effects on relationship satisfaction in long-term couples

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    Summary: Human beings have a fundamental drive toward personal growth which they generally pursue through romantic relationships. An experiment was done to examine the hypothesis that active (vs. passive) partner support for an individual’s opportunity for self-expansion may increase relationship satisfaction.

    Source: Sage Journals.

    According to the self-expansion theory, people have a deep-seated desire to develop personally, which they typically do through romantic relationships. The Michelangelo phenomenon puts forward that people strive to grow towards their ideal self, and in determining how successful they are in doing so, they are dependent on their romantic partner to play a crucial role.

    Individuals are especially effective to the extent that they love and understand their partner, and that they are willing to expend themselves to help him or her. Resource imbalance which might result from insufficient investment to meet higher needs thus undermines a person’s relationship quality and personal well-being.

    According to previous research evidence, if an individual is quite compatible, or if they do not find sufficient time and psychological resources to invest in the relationship. Relationships today are much more likely to fail than they were in the past (i.e., relationships that have developed recently).

    Prior research depicts that partner responsiveness and self-expansion play important roles in the maintenance, creation, and improvement of close relationships. An experiment was done to examine the hypothesis that active (vs. passive) partner support for an individual’s opportunity for self-expansion may increase relationship satisfaction.

    The study included a sample of 58 couples who received active or passive support messages that came from their partners. In couples who were in a longer term (14–60 months) relationship.When people got active (as opposed to passive) support for actions of self-expansion, relationship satisfaction rose noticeably more. This stated pattern was not evident when partners’ messages responded to a task that was stressful or for couples in short-term relationships.

    This specific study can be taken as the first study that provides experimental evidence for effects on relationship satisfaction of partner support that ensured individual self-expansion. Furthermore, the findings purport that there exists a potential substantial importance of relationship length as an important and moderating factor that requires research attention for self-expansion processes.



    Published: Sage Journals.

    Contact: Hayley C. Fivecoat, Clinical Research Psychologist, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology — Binghamton University.

    Details: Image source IStock.

     

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