Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Relationship Functioning and Extradyadic Sexual Activity Across Latent Commitment Structures

Saturday, November 18
1:15 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom E & F, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Sexuality | Couple Therapy
Presentation Type: Symposium

OBJECTIVES: Extra-dyadic sexual activity (EDSA) has traditionally been conceptualized as infidelity/cheating, presuming that the vast majority of relationships use a monogamous commitment structure. The current study challenged that assumption, exploring diversity in commitment structures using Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) to identify fundamental commitment classes. The study then examined how different commitment structures impacted trajectories of relationship functioning over time and how they might moderate the impact of EDSA on relationships.


METHODS: An online sample of 529 heterosexual dyads (83% Caucasian; 62% cohabiting; 48% married/engaged; together M = 6.9yrs) completed a baseline survey and 6 monthly diaries (90% provided follow up data).


LPA RESULTS: A 4-class solution provided the best fit, extracting the following relationship classes: MONOGAMOUS (n=263, low EDSA rates, strong pro-monogamy attitudes), OPEN  (n=43, high EDSA rates, stronger anti-monogamy attitudes for both partners, agreement on openness, and high levels of awareness of EDSA), AMBIVALENT-MALE (n=122, poor agreement and awareness, twice as much male EDSA, female pro-monogamous), and AMBIVALENT-FEMALE (n=101, poor agreement and awareness, twice as much female EDSA, male pro-monogamous).


IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS: Three-level HLM slope-intercept models with APIM examined trajectories of relationship functioning across time. MONOGAMOUS: Male and female partners in monogamous relationships had higher than average relationship satisfaction and lower sexual dissatisfaction at baseline, though their sexual dissatisfaction increased across time. OPEN: Males in open relationships showed drops in sexual dissatisfaction across time and showed lower sexual dissatisfaction with their partner in waves in which they reported EDSA, suggesting that EDSA could invigorate those relationships. AMBIVALENT-MALE: Males in these relationships had lower relationship satisfaction at baseline whereas their female partners showed significant drops in relationship functioning over time, suggesting short and long-term adverse correlates of this structure. AMBIVALENT-FEMALE: Females in these relationships had lower relationship functioning at baseline whereas their male partners showed significant drops in relationship functioning over time, with drops in both partners’ satisfaction in waves in which females reported EDSA, suggesting that EDSA by female partners might hold unique salience. Implications for treatment will be discussed.

Ronald D. Rogge

Associate Professor
University of Rochester

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