Together is Better: Higher Committed Relationships Increase Life Satisfaction and Reduce Loneliness

Abstract

Recently, the term mingle was introduced for persons with an intimate relationship who do not define themselves as romantic partners. This study examines differences between single, mingle and partnered adults in terms of life satisfaction and loneliness. Furthermore, need fulfillment is investigated as a mediator concerning the link between relationship status with life satisfaction and emotional loneliness. Lastly, a longitudinal analysis examined whether increases in commitment lead to higher well-being. A total of 764 participants completed an online questionnaire. Mingles fell in between singles and partnered adults regarding emotional loneliness and life satisfaction. With regard to female participants, relatedness and competence need fulfillment fully mediated the link between relationship status and life satisfaction whereas the association between relationship status and emotional loneliness was specifically mediated by the relatedness and autonomy component. Finally, shifting into more committed forms of relationship increased well-being regarding the longitudinal analysis.

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

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Notes

  1. 1.

    We used Little’s MCAR test to reveal the mechanism leading to missing values. In our model we integrated all relevant variables used in the longitudinal analyses. These were relationship status at T0 and T1, mean life satisfaction and mean loneliness at T0 and T1, age, gender and duration of relationship status at T0 (three dummy coded variables due to four categories). The test suggested the missing values to be missing completely at random, χ2(6) = 6.29, p = .392.

  2. 2.

    The variable duration of being in the current relationship status originally consisted of six categories which we subsumed into four categories to circumvent issues of small cell sizes.

  3. 3.

    We integrated age as an additional moderator into our existing models. By using hierarchical regression analyses, we tested whether adding the interaction terms between age and relationship status (dummy coded with mingle relationship as reference group) into the model leads to a significant change regarding the explained variance of the dependent variables. We compared the models with and without the interaction term between age and relationship status. Only with regard to relatedness need fulfillment through the current partner there was a significant change in R², Fdiff(1, 474) = 5.97, p = .015, \(R_{diff}^{2}\)= .01. Concerning all other dependent measures, no significant increase could be found, Fdiff < 2.55, p > .079, \(R_{diff}^{2}\) < .01. Including the interaction terms into the models did not alter the previous found main effects of relationship status.

    Furthermore, we also calculated the dfbeta values for each regression model to control for possible influential cases due to age that might have affected our findings. However, no value exceeded the critical value of |2| (Stevens 2009).

  4. 4.

    Since the total effect amounts to the sum of the indirect effect and the direct effect, the proportion of indirect to total effect can be construed of as the proportion of the effect on the dependent variable that is mediated through the mediator.

References

  1. Adamczyk, K. (2016). An investigation of loneliness and perceived social support among single and partnered young adults. Current Psychology: A Journal For Diverse Perspectives On Diverse Psychological Issues,35(4), 674–689. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-015-9337-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Adamczyk, K., & Segrin, C. (2015). Perceived social support and mental health among single vs. partnered Polish young adults. Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues,34(1), 82–96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-014-9242-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin,117(3), 497–529. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bierman, A., Fazio, E. M., & Milkie, M. A. (2006). A multifaceted approach to the mental health advantage of the married: Assessing how explanations vary by outcome measure and unmarried group. Journal of Family Issues,27(4), 554–582. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X05284111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Braithwaite, S. R., Delevi, R., & Fincham, F. D. (2010). Romantic relationships and the physical and mental health of college students. Personal Relationships,17(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01248.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review,100(2), 204–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.100.2.204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Campbell, W. K., Sedikides, C., & Bosson, J. (1994). Romantic involvement, self-discrepancy and psychological well-being: A preliminary investigation. Personal Relationships,1(4), 399–404. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1994.tb00073.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist,54(3), 165–181. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.54.3.165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chen, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Beyers, W., Boone, L., Deci, E. L., Van der Kaap-Deeder, J., et al. (2015). Basic psychological need satisfaction, need frustration, and need strength across four cultures. Motivation And Emotion,39(2), 216–236. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-014-9450-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Coombs, R. H. (1991). Marital status and personal well-being: A literature review. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies,40(1), 97–102. https://doi.org/10.2307/585665.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cotten, S. R. (1999). Marital status and mental health revisited: Examining the importance of risk factors and resources. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies,48(3), 225–233. https://doi.org/10.2307/585631.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cramer, R. E., Abraham, W. T., Johnson, L. M., & Manning-Ryan, B. (2001). Gender differences in subjective distress to emotional and sexual infidelity: Evolutionary or logical inference explanation? Current Psychology: A Journal For Diverse Perspectives On Diverse Psychological Issues,20(4), 327–336. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-001-1015-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Dailey, R. M. (2009). Confirmation from family members: Parent and sibling contributions to adolescent psychosocial adjustment. Western Journal of Communication,73(3), 273–299. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570310903082032.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry,11(4), 227–268. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment,49(1), 71–75. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest,13(1), 3–66. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100612436522.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Fletcher, G. J., Simpson, J. A., & Thomas, G. (2000). The measurement of perceived relationship quality components: A confirmatory factor analytic approach. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,26(3), 340–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Gibbs, J. L., Ellison, N. B., & Heino, R. D. (2006). Self-presentation in online personals: The role of anticipated future interaction, self-disclosure, and perceived success in internet dating. Communication Research,33(2), 152–177. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650205285368.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Glaesmer, H., Grande, G., Braehler, E., & Roth, M. (2011). The German version of the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS): Psychometric properties, validity, and population-based norms. European Journal of Psychological Assessment,27(2), 127–132. https://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759/a000058.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Green, L. R., Richardson, D. S., Lago, T., & Schatten-Jones, E. C. (2001). Network correlates of social and emotional loneliness in young and older adults. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,27(3), 281–288. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167201273002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. Methodology in the social sciences. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., & Jones, B. Q. (2008). Is there something unique about marriage? The relative impact of marital status, relationship quality, and network social support on ambulatory blood pressure and mental health. Annals of Behavioral Medicine,35(2), 239–244. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-008-9018-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Horn, E. E., Xu, Y., Beam, C. R., Turkheimer, E., & Emery, R. E. (2013). Accounting for the physical and mental health benefits of entry into marriage: A genetically informed study of selection and causation. Journal of Family Psychology,27(1), 30–41. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029803.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Horwitz, A. V., White, H. R., & Howell-White, S. (1996). Becoming married and mental health: A longitudinal study of a cohort of young adults. Journal Of Marriage And The Family,58(4), 895–907. https://doi.org/10.2307/353978.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. House, J. S., Landis, K. R., & Umberson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science,241(4865), 540–545. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.3399889.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kahn, R. L., & Antonucci, T. C. (1980). Convoys over the life course: Attachment, roles, and social support. In P. B. Baltes & O. G. Brim (Eds.), Lifespan development and behavior (pp. 253–286). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kamp Dush, C. M., & Amato, P. R. (2005). Consequences of relationship status and quality for subjective well-being. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,22(5), 607–627. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407505056438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-person variation in security of attachment: A self-determination theory perspective on attachment, need fulfillment, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,79(3), 367–384. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.79.3.367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lamb, K. A., Lee, G. R., & DeMaris, A. (2003). Union formation and depression: Selection and relationship effects. Journal Of Marriage And Family,65(4), 953–962. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00953.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. LeBlanc, V., & Cox, M. A. (2017). Interpretation of the point-biserial correlation coeffcient in the context of a school examination. The Quantitative Methods For Psychology,13(1), 46–56. https://doi.org/10.20982/tqmp.13.1.p046.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. León, J., & Núñez, J. L. (2013). Causal ordering of basic psychological needs and well-being. Social Indicators Research, 114(2), 243–253. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0143-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. McArdle, J. J. (2009). Latent variable modeling of differences and changes with longitudinal data. Annual Review Of Psychology,60, 577–605. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163612.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Morris, K., & Fuller, M. (1999). Heterosexual relationships of young women in a rural environment. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(4), 531–543. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393278.

  35. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Mplus user’s guide. Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Neubauer, A. B., Schilling, O. K., & Wahl, H.-W. (2017). What do we need at the end of life? Competence, but not autonomy predicts intra-individual fluctuations in subjective well-being in very old age. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences,72, 425–435. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbv052.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Neubauer, A. B., & Voss, A. (2016). Validation and revision of a German version of the Balanced Measure of Psychological Needs Scale. Journal of Individual Differences,37(1), 56–72. https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Neubauer, A. B., & Voss, A. (2018). The structure of need fulfillment: Separating need satisfaction and dissatisfaction on between- and within-person level. European Journal of Psychological Assessment,34, 220–228. https://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759/a000326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Olmstead, S. B., Anders, K. M., & Conrad, K. A. (2016). Meanings for sex and commitment among first semester college men and women: A mixed-methods analysis. Archives Of Sexual Behavior,46, 46–85. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0777-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Patrick, H., Knee, C. R., Canevello, A., & Lonsbary, C. (2007). The role of need fulfillment in relationship functioning and well-being: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,92(3), 434–457. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.3.434.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Perlman, D., & Peplau, L. A. (1984). Loneliness research: A survey of empirical findings. In L. A. Peplau & S. E. Goldston (Eds.), Preventing the harmful consequences of severe and persistent loneliness (pp. 13–46). Rockville: National Institute of Mental Health.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Poortman, A.-R., & Liefbroer, A. C. (2010). Singles’ relational attitudes in a time of individualization. Social Science Research,39(6), 938–949. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.03.012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Przybylski, A. K., Murayama, K., Dehaan, C. R., & Gladwell, V. (2013). Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior,29(4), 1841–1848. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Roberts, B. W., & Wood, D. (2006). Personality development in the context of the Neo-Socioanalytic Model of Personality. In D. K. Mroczek & T. D. Little (Eds.), Handbook of personality development (pp. 11–39). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Rokach, A., & Brock, H. (1998). Coping with loneliness. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied,132(1), 107–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223989809599269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Rosenthal, R. (1994). Parametric measures of effect size. In H. Cooper, L. V. Hedges, H. Cooper, & L. V. Hedges (Eds.), The handbook of research synthesis (pp. 231–244). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The Investment Model Scale: Measuring commitment level, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal Relationships,5(4), 357–387. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1998.tb00177.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Russell, D., Cutrona, C. E., Rose, J., & Yurko, K. (1984). Social and emotional loneliness: An examination of Weiss’s typology of loneliness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,46(6), 1313–1321. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.46.6.1313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Russell, D., Peplau, L. A., & Cutrona, C. E. (1980). The revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: Concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,39(3), 472–480. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.39.3.472.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Sheldon, K. M. (2011). Integrating behavioral-motive and experiential-requirement perspectives on psychological needs: A two process model. Psychological Review,118(4), 552–569. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Sheldon, K. M., & Gunz, A. (2009). Psychological needs as basic motives, not just experiential requirements. Journal of Personality,77(5), 1467–1492. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00589.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Simon, R. W., & Barrett, A. E. (2010). Nonmarital romantic relationships and mental health in early adulthood: Does the association differ for women and men? Journal of Health and Social Behavior,51(2), 168–182. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146510372343.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Soons, J. P. M., & Liefbroer, A. C. (2008). Together is better? Effects of relationship status and resources on young adults’ well-being. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,25(4), 603–624. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407508093789.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. (2016). Datenreport 2016: Familie, Lebensform und Kinder. Retrieved from https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Datenreport/Downloads/Datenreport2016Kap2.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.

  55. Stevens, J. (2009). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (5. Aufl.). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Tesch, I. (2014). Beziehungsstatus: „Mingle“– Wollen wir heute keine Verpflichtungen mehr eingehen?. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.de/isabel-tesch/beziehungsstatus-mingle-w_b_4600248.html.

  57. Uecker, J. E. (2012). Marriage and mental health among young adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,53(1), 67–83. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146511419206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Umberson, D., & Williams, K. (1999). Family status and mental health. In C. S. Aneshensel & J. C. Phelan (Eds.), Handbook of sociology and social research. Handbook of sociology of mental health (pp. 225–253). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Soenens, B., & Luyckx, K. (2006). Autonomy and relatedness among Chinese sojourners and applicants: Conflictual or independent predictors of well-being and adjustment? Motivation and Emotion,30(4), 273–282. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-006-9041-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Wei, M., Shaffer, P. A., Young, S. K., & Zakalik, R. A. (2005). Adult attachment, shame, depression, and loneliness: The mediation role of basic psychological needs satisfaction. Journal of Counseling Psychology,52(4), 591–601. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.52.4.591.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Weiss, R. S. (1973). Loneliness: The experience of emotional and social isolation. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alica Bucher.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bucher, A., Neubauer, A.B., Voss, A. et al. Together is Better: Higher Committed Relationships Increase Life Satisfaction and Reduce Loneliness. J Happiness Stud 20, 2445–2469 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-0057-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Well-being
  • Mingle relationship
  • Relationship status
  • Basic psychological needs
  • Self-determination