Who am I in it for? Relationship goals as predictors of relationship satisfaction

Hadden, Benjamin
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University of Delaware
Research by Crocker and Canevello (2008) has investigated two types of relationship goals – compassionate goals to support others and self-image goals to maintain desired images of the self. In their examination of roommate pairs, high self-image goals were associated with partners’ perceiving less support in the relationship. The current study examines how these goals function in romantic relationships. At Time 1, 45 heterosexual couples completed measures of compassionate and self-image goals, relationship satisfaction, and relationship need satisfaction. At Time 2 (4 weeks later), participants completed a satisfaction measure. Given the interdependence of the data (Kenny, 1995), a series of multilevel random coefficient modeling analyses revealed that both self and partner compassionate goals were predictive of Time 1 relationship need satisfaction. Relationship goals were also found to be predictive over time, as Time 2 satisfaction was related to partner compassionate goals. These results suggest that people’s compassionate goals for their relationships have implications for their own relationship quality as well as for their partner’s relationship quality, and that goals may affect relationship functioning over time.