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Description: People often feel mixed and conflicting feelings (i.e., ambivalence) towards their romantic partner. So far, research has primarily shown that ambivalence is linked to negative outcomes in relationships, but is this always true? Building off the ABC (Affect, Behavior, Cognition) model of ambivalence, the present work tests the idea that, when ambivalent, individuals can experience both positive and negative cognitions and behaviors toward their partner. This idea was tested in three different studies with people in romantic relationships: a cross-sectional international study (n = 665), a ten-day daily diary study (n = 172), and a twelve-day daily diary study with two follow-ups (n =174 couples). Across studies, when people experienced greater ambivalence towards their partner, they spent more time thinking about the difficulties they faced in their relationship but also about ways in which they can make it better. Furthermore, they engaged in both constructive (e.g., wanting to spend more time with the partner) and destructive (e.g., ignoring or criticizing the partner) behaviors towards their partner and fluctuated between them. This work advances the current knowledge about ambivalence in romantic relationships and further demonstrates that individuals can experience both positive and negative reactions to a partner when ambivalent.


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