Daily Affect and Intimacy in Emerging Adult Couples

Abstract

We investigated individual- and couple-level associations between daily intimacy and affective states (N = 2211 observations) in 20 heterosexual emerging adult couples (age 18–25 years, M = 23) who had been in a sexual relationship with one another for at least 3 weeks (M = 12 months). Individual analyses revealed that emerging adults’ feelings of intimacy varied from day to day and that there were no gender differences in daily intimacy. Affect and intimacy were positively associated within day for women, but not for men. Time-lagged individual-level analyses revealed that prior-day positive or negative affect did not predict present-day intimacy for men or women. However, prior-day intimacy positively predicted present-day positive affect in men and negatively predicted present-day negative affect in women. Time-lagged couple-level analyses revealed that men’s prior-day positive affect positively predicted their female partner’s present-day intimacy. Women’s prior-day intimacy negatively predicted their male partner’s present-day negative affect. Implications of the day-to-day associations of intimacy with positive and negative affect within emerging adult couples are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a research Grant from the Aerosmith Endowment Fund, Children’s Hospital Boston. The authors thank Lisa Sunner, Lauren Ebe, Christopher Lops, and Ashley Kendall for their assistance in conducting the study.

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Correspondence to Clare M. Mehta.

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Mehta, C.M., Walls, C., Scherer, E.A. et al. Daily Affect and Intimacy in Emerging Adult Couples. J Adult Dev 23, 101–110 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-016-9226-9

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Keywords

  • Intimacy
  • Affect
  • Romantic relationships
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Emerging adults