Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Unequally into "Us": Characteristics of individuals in asymmetrically committed relationships

AntonioGuillem via BigStockPhotos
Our newest journal article is out. It's about the characteristics of individuals that are associated with it being more likely to be an asymmetrically committed relationship (ACR) compared to those not in such relationships. The study focuses on a sample of unmarried adults (aged 18 to mid thirties) in seriously involved relationships. Asymmetrically committed relationships are more likely to break up (especially if the woman is the less committed partner), more likely to be unhappy, more likely to include physical aggression (by either partner), and more likely to be found in cohabiting rather than dating, but not living together, relationships.

Here are a few highlights:

Those who are the less committed partner within an asymmetrically committed relationship are more likely to:
  • perceive themselves as having good alternatives to their present relationship
  • be attachment avoidant
  • have parents who never married (but not more likely to have parents who divorced)
Those who are the more committed partner within an asymmetrically committed relationship are more likely to: 
  • have anxious attachment 
Regarding commitment and attachment, those with attachment avoidance tend to hang back and those with anxious attachment tend to hang on. These are not surprising findings but it is important to observe them not only in regarding to mere high or low commitment, but regarding being in the higher or lower position of commitment in an asymmetrical relationship. 

There are other findings covered in the paper, including about numbers of prior sexual and/or cohabiting partners, infidelity, and so forth. 

The paper covers the existing literature on ACRs pretty deeply, so it provides a great way to get a solid sense of what is known on this topic. The paper also provides suggestions for working with individuals or couples in therapy or relationship education based on the existing, and growing, literature on asymmetrical commitment. 

To read the abstract, click here.

To see me discussing the study in a "video abstract" for the The journal Family Process, click here.

For an earlier summary on this blog of our research on unequally committed relationships, and their numerous negative characteristics, click here.

If you have no way to access the entire article and want to read it, email me at my university email address, on this page.

Citation: Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Kelmer, G., Scott, S. B., Markman, H. J., & Fincham, F. D. (2018). Unequally into “Us”: Characteristics of individuals in asymmetrically committed relationships. Family Process. doi: 10.1111/famp.12397. Advance online version: