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Growing desire or growing apart? Consequences of personal self-expansion for romantic passion.

Carswell, Kathleen L.; Muise, Amy; Harasymchuk, Cheryl; Horne, Rebecca M.; Visserman, Mariko L.; Impett, Emily A.

Authors

Amy Muise

Cheryl Harasymchuk

Rebecca M. Horne

Mariko L. Visserman

Emily A. Impett



Abstract

Romantic passion represents one of the most fragile and elusive elements of relationship quality but one that is increasingly valued and tied to relationship and individual well-being. We provide the first examination of whether experiencing personal self-expansion—positive self-change and personal growth without a romantic partner—is a critical predictor of passion. Previous research has almost exclusively examined the consequences of couples’ sharing novel experiences (i.e., relational self-expansion) on romantic relationships. Instead, the consequences of personal self-expansion for romantic relationships remain largely unexamined even though most positive self-growth may occur without a romantic partner (e.g., at work). We investigated the consequences of personal self-expansion for passion in three studies including two 21-day experience sampling studies of community couples and a study in a context likely to elicit heightened personal self-expansion: during job relocation. Within-person increases in daily personal self-expansion were associated with greater passion through greater positive emotions (Studies 1 and 2). In contrast, high between-person levels of personal self-expansion were associated with lower passion through lower levels of intimacy, suggesting that individuals may drift apart from their partners with more chronic personal self-expansion (Studies 1, 2, and 3). That is, consistently growing outside of the relationship in ways that are not shared with a romantic partner may reduce feelings of closeness and connection, and ultimately passion. Results also suggest that chronic personal self-expansion may be a double-edged sword for individual well-being, simultaneously associated with lower passion, but greater fulfillment of competence needs. Results controlled for relational self-expansion and time together.

Citation

Carswell, K. L., Muise, A., Harasymchuk, C., Horne, R. M., Visserman, M. L., & Impett, E. A. (2021). Growing desire or growing apart? Consequences of personal self-expansion for romantic passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121(2), 354-377. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000357

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jan 25, 2021
Publication Date 2021-08
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2021
Journal Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Print ISSN 0022-3514
Electronic ISSN 1939-1315
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 121
Issue 2
Pages 354-377
DOI https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000357