University of Kentucky
In the following, partner baggage and the contributing factors will be discussed. These factors are the equity theory, attachment styles, when to reveal and when to conceal, and the cognitive dissonance theory. These factors play a very big role in relationship baggage and they are all discussed extensively through many scholarly articles. The following articles illustrate the research done on the topic of partner baggage as it pertains to these particular factors in romantic relationships.
Keywords: partner baggage, relational uncertainty, ...view middle of the document...
Equity theorists see a relationship as fair when the ratio of results-to-inputs are equivalent for both members of the relationship” (pg. 20). Equity theory states that if a couple is putting in the same amount of effort in the relationship, then they will have a successful relationship. But, this is not always the case. Often you find it that one member of the couple will put forth more effort than the other. This is when strain is put on the relationship and we then call the relationship inequitable. Being in an inequitable relationship is not easy to do. According to Hatfield, Traupmann, Sprecher, Utne, and Hay, “When individuals find themselves participating in inequitable relationships, they feel distress regardless of whether they are the beneficiaries or the victims of the inequity. The over benefited may label their distress guilt, dissonance, empathy, fear of retaliation or conditioned anxiety. The under benefited feelings can be labeled anger or resentment” (pg. 102). No matter which partner you are in the inequitable relationship, there is going to be a downside. You will either feel guilty that you don’t put in as much effort as your partner, or you will be angry that your partner isn’t contributing the same amount of attention that you are. Inequitable relationships don’t always have to stay this way. There are steps that a couple can take to ensure that the relationship they are in can be equitable again. According to Hatfield, Traupmann, Sprecher, Utne, and Hay, “A participant can restore actual equity by altering his own or his partner’s relative gains” (pg. 103). If a couple wants to restore the relationship that they have, they need to put forth enough effort to satisfy the other individual. Equity theory plays a role in relationships that include baggage. In a relationship you want your partners baggage to be somewhat equal, just as in equity theory. It is beneficial to a relationship if both partners have similar amounts of baggage because both partners have to work through an equal amount. It would be inequitable if one partner had a large amount of baggage coming into the relationship and the other to have a small amount or none at all.
Baggage in relationships can cause uncertainty. This uncertainty can lead to avoidant and attachment behaviors. According to Jang, Yoo, and Tian, “Scholars suggest that avoidance behaviors are most evident as individuals experience uncertainty in close relationships, because an event that creates uncertainty not only elicits negative emotions, such as anger and sadness, but also disrupts individuals’ beliefs about their partner’s honesty” (pg. 301). Uncertainty in close romantic relationships, especially relationships with a lot of partner baggage can be affected by the attachment style of the individuals in the relationship. There are three types of attachment styles, anxious, avoidant and secure.
Anxious individuals according to Jang, Yoo, and Tian, “are...