Skip to main content
Log in

Substance Use and Relationship Functioning Among Young Male Couples

Archives of Sexual Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


Research shows that, for different sex couples, individual levels of substance use are deleterious for relationship quality (e.g., satisfaction, intimate partner aggression), whereas dyadic concordance is usually protective. However, there has been no research on these effects among male couples, even though they show increased risk for substance use and certain indices of relationship distress (e.g., intimate partner aggression) compared to different sex couples. Male partners also display distinct similarity patterns and norms surrounding substance use, suggesting that there might be unique effects of substance use on relationship quality among this population. We conducted actor–partner interdependence models of substance use on relationship quality (intimate partner aggression, satisfaction) among a large sample of male dyads (N = 934 individuals, N = 467 dyads). Results suggested that there are novel actor, partner, and similarity effects that imply unique pathways to relationship well-being for male couples. These results are discussed in light of future clinical and empirical efforts. [NCT03186534 – 6/12/2017; NCT03284541 – 6/23/2017].

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Several factors influence transformation of motivation, including how relationship-oriented a person is. However, for the purposes of this study, we focus our review on health/health behaviors (e.g., substance use) relevant to a romantic relationship.

  2. Details on intervention and randomization may be found elsewhere (Newcomb et al., 2017, 2020).

  3. This approach differs from other paradigms (e.g., Judd et al., 2001) in that difference scores are retained at the couple level (i.e., both partners within the couple have the same score, valence is not retained). This is a common procedure for handling dyadic dissimilarity when using a structural equation APIM framework.


Download references


The research leading to these results received funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01AA024065, PI: M. Newcomb) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (DP2DA042417, PI: M. Newcomb). REDCap is supported at the Feinberg School of Medicine by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Science (NUCATS) Institute, which is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR001422, PI: D. Lloyd-Jones). Madison Smith’s time was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (F32DA057128, PI: Smith). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


The authors declare that they have no financial interests. Non-financial interests: Author Michael E. Newcomb serves on the editorial board for Archives of Sexual Behavior. Requests for collaboration and analysis code should be directed to the authors.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



MSS and MEN were involved in conceptualization; MSS and MEN helped in methodology; MSS contributed to validation; MSS was involved in formal analysis; MEN helped in investigation; MEN contributed to resources; data curation was performed by MSS; MSS helped in writing—original draft preparation; MEN and MSS helped in writing—review and editing; MSS was involved in visualization; MEN helped in supervision; MEN contributed to project administration; MEN and MSS were involved in funding acquisition.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Madison Shea Smith.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethics approval

Approval was obtained from the Northwestern University Institutional Review Board. The procedures used in this study adhere to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 149 KB)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Smith, M.S., Newcomb, M.E. Substance Use and Relationship Functioning Among Young Male Couples. Arch Sex Behav 52, 2097–2110 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: