The Course of Well-Being in Romantic Relationships: Predicting Positive Affect in Dating Participants


People use different methods to make themselves happier, but their attempts at lasting happiness are often thwarted by the hedonic adaptation process. We examined changes in well-being over 8 weeks in participants who were involved in romantic relationships and those who were not. On average, both groups declined in well-being over time, but the relationship group experienced more positive emotions overall. High positive affect was predicted by higher aspirations, higher passionate love, and being in a same-ethnicity relationship. None of the variables we measured significantly predicted changes in positive affect over time, which may be due to the short duration of the study.

Share and Cite:

Bao, K. (2012). The Course of Well-Being in Romantic Relationships: Predicting Positive Affect in Dating Participants. Psychology, 3, 1091-1099. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.312A161.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. E. (2000). Couples’ shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 273-284. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.78.2.273
[2] Boehm, J. K. (2010). Getting used to the good things in life: Hedonic adaptation to positive life events. Dissertation Abstracts International, 70, 5229B.
[3] Boswell, W. R., Boudreau, J. W., & Tichy, J. (2005). The relationship between employee job change and job satisfaction: The honeymoon hangover effect. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 882-892. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.90.5.882
[4] Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276
[5] Donovan, C., Heaphy, B., & Weeks, J. (1999). Citizenship and same sex relationships. Journal of Social Policy, 28, 689-709. doi:10.1017/S0047279499005747
[6] Dush, C. M. K., & Amato, P. R. (2005). Consequences of relationship status and quality for subjective well-being. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 607-627. doi:10.1177/0265407505056438
[7] Frederick, S., & Loewenstein, G. (1999). Hedonic adaptation. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N.Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 302-329). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
[8] Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (l986). Measuring passionate love in intimate relations. Journal of Adolescence, 9, 383-4l0.
[9] Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995) The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, method, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3-34. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.118.1.3
[10] Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 410-422. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.65.2.410
[11] Kim, J., & Hatfield, E. (2004). Love types and subjective well being. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 32, 173 182. doi:10.2224/sbp.2004.32.2.173
[12] Kurdek, L. (1999). The nature and predictors of the trajectory of change in marital quality for husbands and wives over the first 10 years of marriage. Developmental Psychology, 35, 1283-1296. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.35.5.1283
[13] Kurdek, L. A. (2002). Predicting the timing of separation and marital satisfaction: An eight-year prospective longitudinal study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 64, 163-179. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00163.x
[14] Kurdek, L. A. (2004). Are gay and lesbian cohabiting couples really different from heterosexual married couples? Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 880-900. doi:10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00060.x
[15] Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. New York: Penguin Press.
[16] Lucas, R. E. (2005). Time does not heal all wounds: A longitudinal study of reaction and adaptation to divorce. Psychological Science, 16, 945-950. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01642.x
[17] Lucas, R. E. (2007). Long-term disability is associated with lasting changes in subjective well being: Evidence from two nationally representative longitudinal studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 717-730. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.4.717
[18] Lucas, R. E. & Clark, A. E. (2006). Do people really adapt to marriage? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 405-426. doi:10.1007/s10902-006-9001-x
[19] Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2003). Re-examining adaptation and the setpoint model of happiness: Reactions to changes in marital status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 527-539. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.3.527
[20] Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2004). Unemployment alters the set point for life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 15, 8-13. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2004.01501002.x
[21] Lyubomirsky, S. (2011). Hedonic adaptation to positive and negative experiences (pp. 200-224). In S. Folkman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of stress, health, and coping. New York: Oxford University Press.
[22] Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803
[23] Murstein, B., Merigihi, J. R., & Malloy, T. E. (1989). Physical attractiveness and exchange theory in interracial dating. The Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 325-334. doi:10.1080/00224545.1989.9712049
[24] Rusbult, C. E. (1983). A longitudinal test of the investment model: The development (and deterioration) of satisfaction and commitment in heterosexual involvements. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 101-117. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.45.1.101
[25] Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2012). The challenge of staying happier: Testing the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention (HAP) model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 670-680. doi:10.1177/0146167212436400
[26] Tsapelas, I., Aron, A., & Orbuch, T. (2009). Marital boredom now predicts less satisfaction 9 years later. Psychological Science, 20, 1-3. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02332.x
[27] Willi, J. (1997). The significant of romantic love for marriage. Family Process, 36, 171-182. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1997.00171.x
[28] Zuckerman, M., & Lubin, B. (1965). Normative data for the multiple affect adjective check list. Psychological Reports, 16, 438. doi:10.2466/pr0.1965.16.2.438

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.