Relationship and sexual satisfaction: a longitudinal actor–partner interdependence model approach

Laura M. Vowels, Kristen P. Mark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Research has demonstrated a strong link between relationship and sexual satisfaction in the context of romantic relationships. However, little research has examined this in the context of a dyadic longitudinal sample, where both partner and actor effects are considered over time. The current study aimed to assess directional fit of the link between relationship and sexual satisfaction with the actor–partner interdependence model (APIM) on the cross-sectional and longitudinal level. Data were collected online from 204 mixed-sex couples (408 individuals) in an online quantitative longitudinal study (baseline, 2 months, and 4 months). The average age of participants was 34 and participants were in a relationship for an average of nine years. Results from the cross-sectional APIM indicated that relationship satisfaction as a predictor of sexual satisfaction provided a better fit to the data. The over-time APIM further supported this directionality. Although prior research has shown mixed results, with some studies providing support for a bidirectional model, the current results indicated that relationship satisfaction precedes sexual satisfaction. This provides additional support that targeting relationship building to improve relationship satisfaction may be a fruitful approach to improving sexual satisfaction in relationships. Implications of the findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-59
Number of pages14
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.


  • APIM
  • Sexual satisfaction
  • dyadic research
  • relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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