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

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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.

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Notes

  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. 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. 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. 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.

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Correspondence to Alica Bucher.

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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

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-0057-1

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