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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Moderators of the association between personal self-expansion and long-distance couples’ relationship satisfaction Lasanen, Brittany D.


Individuals in long-distance relationships often feel that living distant from partners is an arrangement they must endure for professional advancement and personal fulfillment but worry that partners may grow apart as they experience growth and change (i.e., personal self-expansion). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine how long-distance mixed-sex couples’ (N = 69) maintained and facilitated their relationship satisfaction when partners experienced personal self-expansion. I investigated whether personal self-expansion predicted relationship satisfaction over 6 months, and whether inclusion of other in self (IOS), perceptions of partners’ responses as supportive, and disclosure quality strengthened the association. Hypotheses were largely unsupported. Multilevel models indicated that men’s and women’s personal self-expansion were unrelated to men’s relationship satisfaction regardless of moderators. Women’s IOS weakened the positive association between men’s personal self-expansion and women’s relationship satisfaction, and women’s perception of supportive responses to disclosures of self-expanding experiences strengthened the negative association between women’s personal self-expansion and their relationship satisfaction. The quality of partners’ disclosures of experiences did not moderate the association between partners’ personal self-expansion and women’s relationship satisfaction. A post-hoc analysis indicated that partners’ personal self-expansion more positively predicted women’s relationship satisfaction when women’s personal self-expansion was high but was unrelated when women’s personal self-expansion was low. When men expand alongside women, women might be reassured that the couple is not growing apart but growing together while apart, which might enhance couples’ partnerships.

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