Unequally into “Us”: Characteristics of Individuals in Asymmetrically Committed Relationships

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


This study examined characteristics of individuals that are associated with being in asymmetrically committed relationships (ACRs), defined as romantic relationships in which there was a substantial difference in the commitment levels of the partners. These ACRs were studied in a national sample of unmarried, opposite‐sex romantic relationships (N = 315 couples). Perceiving oneself as having more potential alternative partners was associated with increased odds of being the less committed partner in an ACR compared to not being in an ACR, as was being more attachment avoidant, having more prior relationship partners, and having a history of extradyadic sex during the present relationship. Additionally, having parents who never married was associated with being the less committed partner in an ACR but parental divorce was not. Although fewer characteristics were associated with being the more committed partner within an ACR, more attachment anxiety was associated with increased odds of being in such a position compared to not being in an ACR. We also address how some findings change when controlling for commitment levels. Overall, the findings advance understanding of commitment in romantic relationships, particularly when there are substantial asymmetries involved. Implications for both research on asymmetrical commitment as well as practice (e.g., therapy or relationship education) are discussed.

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