Do Friends Help or Hurt? The Dyadic Effects of Friendships on Perceived Partner Relationship Maintenance and Relationship Satisfaction

Date

2021-08-10

Authors

Zhou, Sandra

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Abstract

While romantic relationships are often examined in isolation, the emotional and tangible resources that friendships provide may influence couples. This study explores the impact that friendship networks have on romantic relationships by taking a dyadic approach to examine the association between the quality and size of couples’ respective friendship networks, perceived partner relationship maintenance, and relationship satisfaction. It was hypothesized that higher quality and quantity friendships would attenuate the effects of perceived partner relationship maintenance behaviors on relationship satisfaction, following a couple-oriented pattern. Samples of 153 heterosexual couples and 150 queer couples in the United States and Canada were recruited. Actor-partner interdependence models with mixed moderators were analyzed through multilevel modelling. Results revealed that friendship quality and quantity had moderating effects on the association between perceived partner maintenance behaviors and relationship satisfaction in most circumstances, although the patterns of these moderating effects varied. Friendship quality was not a significant moderator for heterosexual couples. However, friendship quality had significant moderating effects for queer couples, suggesting that when perceived maintenance is low, an individual’s higher quality friends can buffer and promote relationship satisfaction. Similarly, mixed interaction patterns between friendship quantity relationship maintenance were observed for both couple types. These findings suggest that couples may benefit from being mindful of how they use and interact with their friendships to maintain or augment relationship satisfaction.

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Keywords

Friendships, romantic relationships, relationship maintenance, dyadic data analysis

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