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Keywords:

  • commitment;
  • dissolution;
  • satisfaction;
  • love;
  • mate selection

The authors used changes in commitment to wed and reasons for these changes to classify couples into developmental pathways. Using data from a random sample of dating couples (N = 376), they found 4 distinct commitment processes: (a) dramatic, (b) conflict ridden, (c) socially involved, and (d) partner focused. Dramatic commitments were defined by relatively frequent fluctuations in commitment and negative attributions about their relationships. Conflict-ridden commitments were defined by high levels of conflict and relatively frequent decreases in commitment. Individuals in socially involved commitments reported the highest proportion of positive dyadic attributions and references to joint interaction with social networks. Those in partner-focused commitments reported a high proportion of positive dyadic attributions and references to interaction with partners. Types also differed on important relational variables, including satisfaction, love, ambivalence, worries about marriage, and leisure. Dramatic commitments were more likely than any other type to break up and showed an increased likelihood of regression in stage of involvement.