Distress tolerance in romantic relationships: A daily diary exploration with methodological considerations

  • James D. Doorley
  • Todd B. KashdanEmail author
  • Lisa A. Alexander
  • Dan V. Blalock
  • Patrick E. McKnight
Original Paper


Despite growing research interest in distress tolerance (DT), studies have routinely neglected the role that DT plays in close, interpersonal relationships and how DT fluctuates from 1 day to the next. In addition, an understanding of DT hinges on the presence of distress, yet existing studies have failed to include distress in conceptual and analytical models. To address these gaps, we conducted a 1-week, daily diary study with 65 heterosexual couples (n = 130) exploring the effects of DT on basic psychological needs satisfaction in romantic relationships—accounting for distress as a covariate and moderator. Findings indicated that DT was more variable over time than previously suggested. DT was also associated with greater relationship need satisfaction, but less so after accounting for distress. Our study provides initial data on the role of DT in the daily lives of romantic couples and the methodological consequences of accounting for distress along with DT in analytical models.


Distress tolerance Basic psychological needs Romantic relationships Well-being Daily diary 



Dan V. Blalock is supported by Grant No. TPH 21-000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affiliations and the Center of Innovation for Health Services Research in Primary Care (CIN 13-410) at the Durham VA Medical Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Doorley
    • 1
  • Todd B. Kashdan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lisa A. Alexander
    • 1
  • Dan V. Blalock
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Patrick E. McKnight
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Health Services Research & DevelopmentDurham Veterans Affairs Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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