Too much commitment in romance can boomerang

December 3rd, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 3 (IANS) Don’t be too committed in romantic relationships or it might boomerang, leaving you depressed, anxious and fretful, warn experts.When one or both partners place too much emotional weight on their relationship, they tend to evaluate their self-worth solely based on the outcomes of their romantic interactions.

This is what psychologists term as relationship-contingent self-esteem (RCSE) and, according to University of Houston researcher and assistant professor Chip Knee, it’s an unhealthy factor in romantic relationships.

“Individuals with high levels of RCSE are very committed to their relationships, but they also find themselves… devastated when something goes wrong — even a relatively minor event,” said Knee.

RCSE can trigger depression and anxieties during even the most minor or common relationship-based incidents, such as miscommunication, short spats over non-critical matters or a critique of one’s personality or appearance.

It also factors into one or more partners developing manic, obsessive (or needy) behaviour with regard to love, said a University of Houston release.

RCSE might place one at risk for serious mood changes after break-ups, divorce or threats to one’s relationship. Identifying it during the early stages of a relationship can prevent such negative outcomes or help partners recognise that they are incompatible.

Knee, director of the University of Houston Interpersonal Relations and Motivation Research Group, adds that “an overwhelming amount of the wrong kind of commitment can actually undermine a relationship.”

Knee and associates observed RCSE impact among heterosexual college students in a series of studies, including a 14-day diary procedure in which 198 participants recorded the most positive and negative events in their romantic relationships.

“What we found with this particular study was that people with higher levels of RCSE felt worse about themselves during negative moments in their relationships,” Knee said.

“It’s as if it doesn’t matter why the negative occurrence happens or who was at fault. The partners with stronger RCSE still feel badly about themselves.”

Their findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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