Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 4-19-2018

First Advisor

Dr. Ruth Hickerson

Abstract

The purpose of this project was to examine the impact of a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis in the romantic relationships of emerging adults. By applying the Relational Turbulence Model (RTM), my goal was to uncover how relational confidence and partner interference were affected by the diagnosis as a turbulent event. After conducting 12 in-person interviews with individuals who had been diagnosed with anxiety in their romantic relationships, a few key themes emerged. My findings indicate that most couples had different relational satisfaction levels post-diagnosis. Additionally, participants who reported higher relational confidence levels post-diagnosis were able to maintain their relationships, while those who reported lower confidence ultimately broke up with their partners. If partners were supportive post-diagnosis, relational satisfaction grew. However, if partners were perceived as not being supportive, relational satisfaction often went down. Couple communication styles fell into one of two categories: Open communication or guarded communication. Other patterns indicated that when describing relationships, many participants used catastrophic language and metaphors. These findings support previous literature that explored interactions between turbulent events, relational confidence, and partner interference. Ultimately, this study contributes new knowledge to the realm of mental health as it is applied to the Relational Turbulence Model.

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