We tested hypotheses concerning the developmental roots of becoming the "weak-link" (less committed) partner in adult romantic relationships and the associations between partners' absolute and relative levels of commitment and dyadic outcomes. We examined 78 target 20- to 21-year-olds who were involved in a romantic relationship and who had been studied since birth. As predicted, people who received lower-quality support from caregivers in toddlerhood or who were less able to resolve conflicts with a best friend in midadolescence were more likely to become the weak-link partner in a romantic relationship at age 20 to 21. Furthermore, lower commitment on the part of the weak-link partner coupled with greater discrepancy in commitment between partners predicted a greater likelihood that the couple would display hostility (rated by observers) during a videotaped conflict-resolution task when they were 20 to 21 years old. These findings are discussed from developmental and dyadic perspectives.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health to Byron Egeland, L. Alan Sroufe, and W. Andrew Collins ( R01-MH40864 ); Jeffry A. Simpson ( R01-MH49599 ); M. Minda Oriña ( 5T32MH015755-28 ); Jessica E. Salvatore ( T32MH015755-32 ); and Katherine C. Haydon ( MH19893 ). It was also supported by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to W. Andrew Collins, Byron Egeland, and L. Alan Sroufe ( R01-HD054850 ).
- developmental trajectories
- romantic relationships
- weak-link partners