Connections between self-esteem, commitment, and verbal aggression in romantic relationships

Old novel with picture of woman screamingAn anonymous contribution:

Growing up in a well rounded family, I never noticed a connection between verbal aggressiveness, commitment, and my parents’ self esteem. I personally perceived my parents as a committed couple that had a normal amount of verbal aggression.

In a survey of 76 heterosexual couples from a Midwestern university, researchers looked at the connection between these variables. To qualify for the study one had to be at least 19 years old and in a romantic relationship for at least a month. Specifically, the survey looked at:

  • Verbal aggression, which occurs when a person intentionally attacks another with the intention to humiliate or embarrass a person
  • Self-esteem, the value one puts in themselves and how they view themselves
  • Commitment, which involves how much one perceived their partner to be committed to them and how committed one is to their partner

The researchers found that self-esteem and commitment levels correlated positively. If a person thought that their significant other had high levels of commitment to them, then their self-esteem tended to be higher. This went both ways. If one’s self-esteem was high then their commitment to the relationship was high as well. It was also found that if one perceives their partner as being very committed their self-esteem was high also. Results showed that self-esteem and verbal aggression were closely related. As one’s self-esteem went down, one’s tendency to use verbal aggression went up. Finally, it was found that one’s own commitment to the relationship and the perceived commitment of the partner were not correlated to verbal aggression. After all the research was finished and analyzed, researchers found that there still needed to be more studies done on sociometer theory and its validity.

This study provides several key insights.  If you want your relationship to be relatively stress free, you should take your partners self-esteem into consideration. By showing high levels of commitment to your partner, you can help raise their self-esteem. By raising your partner’s self-esteem, you can reduce their tendency to use verbal aggression resulting in a less stressful relationship. After reading this study, I personally would try my hardest to let my partner know that I was committed to them.  By doing this, I feel that it would help raise my partner’s faith and commitment to me while simultaneously raising their self esteem. All of these things would help make the relationship potentially last longer and more satisfying.

Rill, L., Baiocchi, E., Hopper, M., Denker, K., & Olson, L.N. (2009). Exploration of the relationship between self-esteem, commitment, and verbal aggressiveness in romantic dating relationships. Communication Reports, 22(2), 102-113.

College Love: Uncertainty & Satisfaction in Long Distance Dating Relationships

By Guest Author Kasie Tanabe

Going on into my third year in a long distance dating relationship, I can attest to the important role of active of maintenance in keeping a fulfilling relationship. However, I was unaware of just how closely linked satisfaction is to communication strategies and their feelings on the relationship’s future.

Surveying 186 college students in long distance dating relationships (LDDRs), Maguire looked the following subjects:
• Certainty/uncertainty of reuniting in the same city – how this affected the overall relationship satisfaction
• Relationship-enhancing/distancing communicative coping strategies – which of the two are more helpful for people in LDDRs with an uncertain and certain future
• Convergent/divergent situations – how satisfaction differs for those in convergent (high probability of a favored outcome) and divergent (low probability of a favored outcome) situations, and what communicative coping strategies work best

Maguire’s results generally strengthened existing theories regarding certainty and its positive effects on maintenance and communicative coping strategies. However, people who were comfortable with their future prospects (whether it be certain or uncertain) showed greater overall relationship satisfaction. In addition, maintenance and relationship-enhancing coping strategies were more clearly associated with relationships of reduced uncertainty.

Therefore, it should not be assumed that uncertainty will always prove problematic for LDDRs. Uncertainty management theory (UMT) offers one perspective on this issue; it recognizes that not all uncertainty is negative. In some situations, certainty may be problematic, especially if the sure future involves an undesirable outcome. It is not true that if a couple is uncertain or moderately uncertain of reuniting, then they necessarily are unsatisfied and have more distress.

Miss You (from doug88888)Maintenance strategies say a lot about a relationship as well. A commitment to a future together brings about an increased amount of openness, cooperativeness, joint-problem solving, and assurances, as more importance is placed on maintaining the relationship in hopes of making it last. But no matter the case, as the study and I both suggest, keep withdrawal and verbal attacks to a minimum. No matter the certainty or satisfaction level, all participants felt these to be harmful and unhelpful coping strategies.

Finally, another important aspect of LDDRs is idealization. This occurs often, as idealized images may arise through restricted communication. One partner is allowed to see only what the other wants them to see; it is easier in LDDRs to leave out unfavorable information. This ultimately heightens satisfaction levels.

Maguire, K. (2007). “Will it ever end?”: A (re)examination of uncertainty in college student long-distance dating relationships. Communication Quarterly, 415-432.