Are Differences Between Partners Always Detrimental? The Moderating Role of Future Connectedness


  • Simon Andrew Moss
  • Jasmine Dolan


Whether perceived differences between romantic partners compromises or enhances relationships may depend on the characteristics of individuals. This study explores the possibility that differences in capabilities but not motives enhance relationship satisfaction—but only when the individuals feel connected to their future identity. In particular, when individuals feel connected to their future identity, their primary motivation is to accrue capabilities and resources that could be useful in subsequent decades. They will thus seek partners with capabilities they have yet to acquire because, consistent with self-expansion theory, they tend to perceive these abilities as part of their own self-concept. To test this premise, 152 individuals rated the motives and capabilities of both themselves and their partners and also answered questions that gauge their relationship satisfaction and connectedness to their future identity. Perceived differences in motives and capabilities were inversely associated with relationship satisfaction. However, when participants felt connected to their future identity, the inverse association between differences in capabilities and relationship satisfaction diminished. Accordingly, if individuals perceive their lives as stable, they can embrace some differences between themselves and their partner.