How Can You Improve the Quality of Your Romantic Relationships?


What makes a romantic relationship good?

There are MANY different definitions and conceptualizations of love, which complicates attempts to assess the role of love in romantic relationship stability, quality, and satisfaction.

For example, romantic love includes passion, exclusiveness, sexual intimacy and physical attraction, yet sexual intimacy may also exist outside of it as well.

Another definition is attachment style. A romantic partner will replace a parental figure as the primary attachment figure (Hazan & Shaver, 1994). When an attachment figure is perceived as emotionally unavailable or unreliable, one may be more prone to feel insecure and have doubts about the relationship.

When a close other is perceived as available, reliable, trustworthy, and willing to provide support when needed, one is more likely to feel a sense of secure attachment, intimacy, support, and nurturance (Cassidy, 2000; Hazan & Shaver, 1994; Mikulincer, Shaver, & Pereg, 2003).

The Most Important Factors for Relationship Satisfaction

Many couples report love as being the most important aspect of their relationship satisfaction. Married couples tend to identify love as being the most important quality that makes them feel close, connected, and committed to their spouse (Riehl-Emde, Thomas, & Willi, 2003). 

Love, romance, and intimacy are all positively associated with well-being (Love & Holder, 2015).

Findings also point to the qualities of attachment, support, intimacy, companionship, and sexual satisfaction.

The 6 Love Styles and Their Impact on Relationships

Lee (1977) defined six types of love styles. First, the three main love styles are:

  • Eros (i.e., rooted in strong physical attraction)
  • Ludus (i.e., viewing love as a game, noncommittal)
  • Storge (i.e., friendship evolving into a romantic relationship)

The next three styles are combinations of the three main love styles including 

  • Mania: Combination of eros and ludus (i.e., possessive, jealous, anxious attachment to a partner)
  • Pragma: Combination of ludus and storge (i.e., practical approach)
  • Agape: Combination of eros and storge (altruistic love)

Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) developed a 42-item Love Attitude Scale that categorizes individuals into one of these six love styles. You can take this questionnaire by clicking here.

Those with eros and agape styles and those who have similar love styles tend to report better relationship quality and higher satisfaction.

Individuals within couples who have different love styles tend to report lower quality relationships and satisfaction (Davis & Latty-Mann, 1987).

How Else Can You Increase Relationship Satisfaction and Happiness?

Couples who agree on a suitable division of labor for financial and household responsibilities report the highest relationship satisfaction and marital happiness and conflict (Blumstein and Schwartz, 1983).

How you react when your partner shares good news is a really important moment for intimate relationships. You want to respond in an active-constructive manner. (Gable, Reis, Impett, & Asher, 2004).



  1. Banse, R. (2004). Adult attachment and marital satisfaction: Evidence for dyadic configuration effects. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2, 273-282.
  2. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.
  3. Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. (1983). American couples: Money, work, sex. New York: William Morrow.
  4. Brown, S. L. (2000). The effect of union type on psychological well-being: Depression among cohabitors versus marrieds. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41, 241-255.
  5. Buss, D. M. (2000). The evolution of happiness. American Psychologist, 55, 15-23.
  6. Cassidy, J. (2000). Adult romantic attachments: A development perspective on individual differences. Review of General Psychology, 4, 111-131.
  7. Chambel, M. J., & Curral, L. (2005). Stress in academic life: Work characteristics as predictors of student well-being and performance. Applied Psychology, 54, 135-147.
  8. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 676-684.
  9. Cotton, S. J., Dollard, M. F., & de Jonge, J. (2002). Stress and student job design: Satisfaction, well-being, and performance in university students. International Journal of Stress Management, 9, 147-162.
  10. Cutrona, C. E., & Russell, D. W. (1987). The provisions of social relationships and adaptation to stress. Advances in Personal Relationships, 1, 37-67.
  11. Davis, K. E., & Latty-Mann, H. (1987). Love styles and relationship quality: A contribution to validation. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 409-428.
  12. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological Science, 13, 80-83.
  13. Diener, E., Gohm, C. L., Suh, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Similarity of the relations between marital status and subjective well-being across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31, 419-436.
  14. Drigotas, S. M., Rusbult, C. E., & Verette, J. (1999). Level of commitment, mutuality of commitment, and couple well-being. Personal Relationships, 6, 389-409.
  15. Dush, C. M. K., & Amato, P. R. (2005). Consequences of relationship status and quality for subjective well-being. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 607–627.
  16. Dush, C. M. K., Taylor, M. G., & Kroeger, R. A. (2008). Marital happiness and psychological well-being across the life course. Family Relations, 57, 211-226.
  17. Efklides, A., Kalaitzidou, M., & Chankin, G. (2003). Subjective quality of life in old age in Greece. European Psychologist, 8, 178-191.
  18. Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G. C., Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to positive event disclosures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 904-917.
  19. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228-245.
  20. Glenn, N. D., & Weaver, C. N. (1979). A note on family situation and global happiness. Social Forces, 57, 960-967.
  21. Gove, W. R., Style, C. B., & Hughes, M. (1990). The effect of marriage on the well-being of adults: A theoretical analysis. Journal of Family Issues, 11, 4-35.
  22. Hawkins, D. N., & Booth, A. (2005). Unhappily every after: Effects of long-term, low-quality marriages on well-being. Social Forces, 84, 451-471.
  23. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. R. (1994). Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationships. Psychological Inquiry, 5, 1-22.
  24. Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S. (1986). A theory and method of love. Journal of Social and Personal Psychology, 50, 392-402.
  25. Hendrick, S. S., Dicke, A., & Hendrick, C. (1988). The relationship assessment scale. Journal of Social and Personal Relationship, 15, 137-142.
  26. Holder, M. D. (2012). Predictors and correlates of well-being. In Happiness in children: Measurement, correlates, and enhancement of positive subjective well-being. SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research (pp. 35-38). Springer, Dordrecht.
  27. Horwitz, A. V., McLaughlin, J., & White, H. R. (1998). How the negative and positive aspects of partner relationships affect the mental health of young married people. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 39, 124-136.
  28. House, J. S., Landis, K. R., & Umberson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, 241, 540-545.
  29. Kawachi, I., & Berkman, L. F. (2001). Social ties and mental health. Journal of Urban Health, 78, 458-467.
  30. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Newton, T. L., (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 472-503.
  31. Kim, J., & Hatfield, E. (2004). Love types and subjective well-being: A cross-cultural study. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 32, 173-182.
  32. La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-person variation in security of attachment: A self-determination theory perspective on attachment, need fulfillment, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 367-384.
  33. Lee, J. A. (1977). A typology of styles of loving. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 3, 173-182.
  34. Li, T., & Fung, H. F. (2014). How avoidant attachment influences subjective well-being: An investigation about the age and gender differences. Aging and Mental Health, 18, 4-10.
  35. Love, A. B. & Holder, M. D. (2015). Can romantic relationship quality mediate the relation between psychopathy and subjective well-being? Journal of Happiness Studies, 17, 2407-2429.
  36. Mastekaasa, A. (1994). The subjective well-being of the previously married: The importance of unmarried cohabitation and time since widowhood or divorce. Social Forces, 73, 665-692.
  37. Mehta, C. M., Walls, C., Scherer, E. A., Feldman, H. A., & Shrier, L. A. (2016). Daily affect and intimacy in emerging adult couples. Journal of Adult Development, 23, 101-110.
  38. Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., & Pereg, D. (2003). Attachment theory and affect regulation: The dynamics, development, and cognitive consequences of attachment-related strategies. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 77-102.
  39. Myers, D. (2000). The funds, friends and faith of happy people. American Psychologist, 55, 56–67.
  40. Perry-Smith, J. E. (2006). Social yet creative: The role of social relationships in facilitating individual creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 85-101.
  41. Proulx, C. M., Helms, H. M., & Buehler, C. (2007). Marital quality and personal well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 576-593.
  42. Resnick, M. D., Bearnman, P. S., Blum, R. W., Bauman, K. E., Harris, K. M., Jones, J., et al. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 278, 823-832.
  43. Richards, M., Hardy, R., & Wadsworth, M. (1997). The effects of divorce and separation on mental health in a national UK birth cohort. Psychological Medicine, 27, 1121-1128.
  44. Riehl-Emde, A., Thomas, V., & Willi, J. (2003). Love: An important dimension in marital research and therapy. Family Process, 42, 253-267.
  45. Reis, H. T., Clark, M. S., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. J. Mashek & A. P, Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201-225). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  46. Reis, H. T., Lemay, E. P. Jr., & Finkenauer, C. (2017). Toward understanding understanding: The importance of feeling understood in relationships. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 11, e12308.
  47. Sampson, R. J., Laub, J. H., & Wimer, C. (2006). Does marriage reduce crime? A counterfactual approach to within-individual causal effects. Criminology, 44, 465-508.
  48. Schiffrin, H. H. (2014). Positive psychology and attachment: Positive affect as a mediator of developmental outcomes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 1062-1072.
  49. Simpson, J. A. (1990). Influence of attachment styles on romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 971-980.
  50. Sprecher, S., & Cate, R. M. (2004). Sexual satisfaction and sexual expression as predictors of relationship satisfaction and stability. In J. H. Harvey, A. Wenzel, & S. Sprecher (Eds.), The handbook of sexuality in close relationships (pp. 235-256). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  51. Stack, S., & Eshleman, J. R. (1998). Marital status and happiness: A 17-nation study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 527-536.
  52. Taylor, Z. E., Doane, L. D., & Eisenberg, N. (2013). Transitioning from high school to college: Relations of social support, ego-resiliency, and maladjustment during emerging adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 2, 105-115.
  53. Umberson, D., Williams, K., Powers, D. A., Liu, H., & Needham, B. (2006). You make me sick: Marital quality and health over the life course. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 1-16.
  54. Uysal, A., Lin, H. L., Knee, C. R., & Bush, A. L. (2012). The association between self-concealment from one's partner and relationship well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 39-51.
  55. Van Buren, A., & Cooley, E. L. (2002). Attachment styles, view of self and negative affect. North American Journal of Psychology, 4, 417-430.
  56. Walen, H. R., & Lachman, M. E. (2000). Social support and strain from partner, family, and friends: Costs and benefits for men and women in adulthood. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17 , 5-30.
  57. Whisman, M. A. (2007). Marital distress and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders in a population-based national survey. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 638-643.
  58. Williams, D. G. (1988). Gender, marriage, and psychosocial well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 9, 452-468.
  59. Wu, Z., & Hart, R. (2002). The effects of marital and nonmarital union transition on health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 420-432.


Leave a comment