The Trailing Partner and the Experience of Elective Relocation

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Nicole E. Taylor

Second Advisor

Kim Gorgens

Third Advisor

Marian Camden


Relocation, Trailing partners, Relationships


Young Americans are frequently relocating to new states, and many are doing so in committed relationships in order to remain with their partners. A growing number of those who relocate are choosing to do so, rather than moving out of necessity or because they are required to. In these instances of elective relocation, there is presumed to be a stronger conflict between personal identity and one’s identity within the partnership, which ultimately may make the decision to move more difficult or more meaningful. The majority of literature written about these partnerships that choose elective relocation focuses on married couples, or on how one partner perceives the experience of the trailing partner. Very little literature focuses on the experience of the trailing partner, thus the aim of this study is to better understand the unique experience of individuals who relocate for their significant other, and the decision making process involved. In addition, this study addresses populations who have previously not been represented in much of the literature (males and unmarried partners). Furthermore, this study utilized a modified narrative research design to capture the specific experience of the individual participants. Several common themes were found within the narratives of the participants: difficulty securing employment; adjusting to new social networks; reconciling reality with expectations; and feeling a sense of displeasure with the situation preceding the move. The most salient of the shared themes was an attitude of “let’s see how this goes,” suggesting openness to experience or flexibility may be a common experience by more contemporary trailing partners. Cognitive dissonance does not appear to be an inherent theme of the experience of elective relocation. Further research directions and recommendations are provided.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


38 pages

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