Perceptions of Partners’ Problematic Alcohol Use Affect Relationship Outcomes Beyond Partner Self-Reported Drinking: Alcohol Use in Committed Romantic Relationships
Rodriguez, Lindsey M.
Øverup, Camilla S.
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Alcohol use is prevalent among college students, including those who are in committed romantic relationships. Individuals’ perceptions of their partner’s alcohol use may have significant effects on how they view both their partner and their relationship. The current study examines the effect of one’s perception of one’s romantic partner’s drinking as problematic on one’s relationship satisfaction and commitment, and whether this varies as a function of one’s partner’s drinking. Both partners in romantic heterosexual relationships (N = 78 dyads) completed an online survey assessing alcohol use and problems, relationship satisfaction and commitment, and the perception that their partner’s drinking was problematic. Analyses using Actor-Partner Interdependence Models (APIMs) revealed a partner-moderated actor interaction, such that partner self-reported drinking significantly moderated the association between the actor’s perception of their partner’s drinking as problematic and actor relationship outcomes. Results indicated that when partners drank at higher levels, perceiving their drinking as problematic did not have an effect. These individuals were less satisfied regardless of their perceptions. However, when partners drank at lower levels, perceiving their drinking as problematic was negatively associated with relationship outcomes. Furthermore, for alcohol consumption, three-way interactions with gender emerged, indicating that this effect was stronger for males. Results extend the literature on drinking in relationships and on interpersonal perception. Implications and future directions are discussed.
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