Relationship of interdependent self-construal to grief after the break up of a romantic relationship: a test of a model
Research suggests that people commonly experience symptoms of distress and grief after relationship termination (LeGrand, 1989), which vary as a function of relationship variables such as relationship closeness (Simpson, 1987). This study examined the relationship of interdependent self-construal (Cross & Madson, 1997) to grief in college students after the break up of a romantic relationship and tested mediators of this relationship. It also examined mediators of the relationship between interdependent self-construal and relationship satisfaction. Participants were administered self-report measures assessing interdependent self-construal and potential mediating variables at two time points. Approximately five to seven months later they were contacted to participate in a follow-up phone study to determine whether their relationships had broken up and to assess either grief after the break up or relationship satisfaction for those whose relationships had not terminated. The hypothesis that interdependent self-construal is positively related to grief after break up was not support. Instead, results indicated a trend toward a negative relationship, with individuals with a high interdependent self-construal tending to experience less intense grief after break up than those with a low interdependent self-construal. No significant mediators of this relationship were found. Grief was more intense among those who were highly dependent on their relationships and among those who had few perceived alternatives to the relationship. For those whose relationships stayed together, interdependent self-construal was positively related to relationship satisfaction. This relationship was mediated by social support from the partner and by relationship quality. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.