The Impact of Relationship Acceptance and Romantic Secrecy on Commitment Processes and Proportion of Time Spent on Sex

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Description: Little research has examined how relationship secrecy and acceptance impacts various aspects of people’s romantic relationships. The extant literature concerning relationship secrecy suggests that it may have both detrimental and beneficial effects on relationships, such as lower relationship satisfaction but higher sexual attraction Similarly, acceptance may have both beneficial and detrimental effects, such that a lack of relationship acceptance is a barrier to commitment, though individuals who perceive their relationship to be stigmatized may also utilize sex as a means to increase intimacy and closeness in order to compensate for such. On this basis, we predicted that secrecy would be negatively related to commitment but positively related to the proportion of time spent on sex, and that acceptance would be positively associated with commitment and negatively associated with the proportion of time spent on sex. We also sought to test an alternative model wherein commitment was the precursor, as it is possible that low commitment motivates secrecy and impacts family and friends acceptance of partners (rather than the other way around). SEM models and individual multilevel models were computed across three studies (N = 4,271) of monogamous and polyamorous participants. Results for the hypothesized model were inconsistent across samples, but results for the alternative model were consistent across studies and suggest that commitment negatively predicts secrecy and secrecy positively predicts the proportion of time spent on sex, while commitment positively predicts acceptance and acceptance negatively predicts the proportion of time spent on sex. This research suggests that commitment may be a precursor to secrecy and acceptance, and secrecy and acceptance impact the proportion of time spent on sex in relationships.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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  • Study 2: Monogamous replication


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