The development of romantic relationships is a complex process by which previously autonomous individuals come to perceive themselves as a social unit. We propose that the transition from casual dating to serious involvement coincides with relational turbulence in courtship, and we identify relational uncertainty and interference from partners as mechanisms that may explain why this turmoil occurs. We test our model by examining people's appraisals of irritating circumstances as a marker of relational turbulence. We conducted a cross-sectional study in which individuals evaluated the degree of severity and relationship threat of potential irritations that had occurred recently in their dating relationship. Although the effect size was small, results consistent with our predictions indicated that negative appraisals were curvilinearly associated with intimacy. Also as anticipated, we documented positive associations between negative appraisals and both relational uncertainty and interference from partners. Contrary to our expectations, however, neither relational uncertainty nor interference from partners mediated the curvilinear trajectory between negative appraisals and intimacy. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding relational turbulence in dating relationships.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science