The quality of romantic relationships influences physical and mental health. However, maintaining happy and healthy relationships is challenging; relationship satisfaction declines over time, and relationship dissolution is frequent. This raises the question of which factors contribute to the maintenance versus decline of relationship satisfaction. In this Review, we examine the key factors that have been linked to relationship satisfaction in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Specifically, we describe how self-reported perceptions (subjective perceptions of the self, the partner or the relationship), implicit evaluations (automatic evaluations of one’s partner assessed indirectly) and objective indexes (demographics, life events, communication patterns and biological indexes) relate to relationship satisfaction. This synthesis suggests that self-reported perceptions are not always the most reliable predictors of longitudinal changes in relationship satisfaction. Thus, to uncover why some relationships flourish and others struggle over time, future research should not solely focus on self-reported perceptions, but also on implicit evaluations, demographics, life events, communication patterns and biological factors, and their combination.
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The authors thank I. Guhring, L. Scharmer and S. van Niekerken for their help with the literature review.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Righetti, F., Faure, R., Zoppolat, G. et al. Factors that contribute to the maintenance or decline of relationship satisfaction. Nat Rev Psychol 1, 161–173 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-022-00026-2
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