Emotion regulation difficulties have been found to predict relationship satisfaction in adult samples, yet little is known with regards to the processes explaining these associations in adolescent dating relationships. Furthermore, among the available literature, most studies only consider one romantic partner. To address this gap, this study used a dyadic approach and considered the role of conflict resolution strategies (i.e., positive problem-solving, withdrawal, and conflict engagement) in the association between adolescents’ emotion regulation and romantic relationship satisfaction. A sample of 117 heterosexual adolescent couples from Québec, Canada, was recruited (Mage = 17.68, SD = 1.57; 50% female, with 40.60% being in their first romantic relationship, and 48.29% reporting that this relationship was ongoing for more than a year). Results from APIMeM analyses indicated no direct effects between emotion regulation and relationship satisfaction. Significant indirect actor effects indicate that boys and girls with greater emotion regulation difficulties were less satisfied with their relationship via more withdrawal strategies. A partner effect emerged for girls, such that their boyfriend’s regulation difficulties and greater withdrawal had a negative impact on their relationship satisfaction. This study identifies withdrawal as a key strategy in explaining the associations between emotion regulation difficulties and relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, it highlights that within adolescent couples, boys’ withdrawal can be particularly deleterious to relational well-being.
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E.T. contributed to the conception of the study and the design, participated in the data collection, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript; A.P. contributed to the conception and design of the study, supervised data collection, material preparation and data analysis, and helped draft the manuscript; T.H. provided insightful comments to improve the rational of the study and contributed to writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This study was accomplished with funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC; 430-2018-00771) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et Culture (FRQSC; NP-2018-204990) awarded to Alison Paradis.
Data Sharing and Declaration
Due to the sensitive nature of the data, the manuscript cannot be made available openly. Further information about the data and access conditions is available from the corresponding author, Alison Paradis, upon request.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no competing interests.
This study has been approved by the Université du Québec à Montréal’s institutional ethics committe for research with human subjects (Comité institutional d’éthique de la recherche avec des êtres humains); certificate # 1770_e_2018; file #592.
Informed consent was obtained through signed consent forms. Participants were solely identifiable by an assigned identification code.
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Todorov, EH., Paradis, A. & Ha, T. Emotion Regulation Difficulties and Relationship Satisfaction in Adolescent Couples: The Role of Conflict Resolution Strategies. J Youth Adolescence 52, 1753–1767 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-023-01787-6