The long-term consequences of relationship formation for subjective well-being

J.P.M. Soons, A.C. Liefbroer, M. Kalmijn

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


This study examines how relationship transitions affect subjective well-being (SWB) and how this effect changes over time. We used prospective data containing information about 18 years of young adults’ lives (PSIN,N = 5,514). SWB was measured with the Satisfaction with Life Scale.Within-person multilevel regression analyses showed that dating, unmarried cohabitation, and marriage had additional well-being enhancing effects. After entry into a union, well-being slowly decreased. A large SWB decrease was found after union dissolution, but through adaptation or repartnering well-being increased again. Well-being of never-married and never cohabiting young adults decreased slowly over time. These effects were independent of parenthood and employment. Our results confirm expectations from the resources theory but contradict some assumptions of the set-point theory. Key words: adjustment; cohabitation; dating; fixed effects; models; union formation; well-being
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254-1270
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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