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The ABC of Social Desires: Affiliation, Being Alone, and Closeness to Partner


Correspondence to: Birk Hagemeyer, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Institut für Psychologie, Humboldtstr. 11, D-07743, Jena, Germany.



We propose a triadic model of social desires directed at appetence/aversion of affiliation with friends (A), being alone (B), and closeness to one's partner (C) that account for individual differences in subjectively experienced needs for proximity and distance in serious couple relationships. The model assumes that A, B, and C can be conceptualized at the individual level as correlated latent factors measured by appetence and aversion indicators with opposite factor loadings and low shared method variance and at the couple level assuming the same measurement model and identical (co)variances for men and women. The model was confirmed with confirmatory factor analyses in a sex-balanced internet sample of 476 individuals and a longitudinal sample of both partners of 578 heterosexual couples by assessing the ABC desires with brief appetence/aversion scales. In both samples, the desires showed expected unique associations with the Big Five personality traits, loneliness and relationship satisfaction, perceived available support by friends and partner, and attachment style toward the partner and high 1-year stability in the longitudinal sample. We suggest that the ABC model helps to integrate research on couples' distance regulation along the lines of communal and agentic motivation. Copyright © 2012 European Association of Personality Psychology