Students will report that their mental health either increased or was not changed by their romantic relationships

This hypothesis is based on past studies of college students in serious romantic relationships who reported increased mental health due to the increased social support provided by partners . Increases in self-esteem and individual well-being have also been associated with romantic involvement .

Mental illness will not be a common cause of relationship dissolution for most college students. Existing literature has empathized that-as mentioned above-relationships improve the mental health of partners. Thus, respondents would be less likely than their single counterparts to suffer from mental illness or break up because of their context [42,43].

2.1. Participants

The authors developed a 43-item survey approved by the Institutional Review Board at a public university in the southeastern United States and posted it online in the fall of 2019. Students in the third author’s Courtship and ily course, were emailed the link and asked to complete the survey. Sociology colleagues/faculty also sent the survey link to the students in their introductory courses. Questions regarding gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, religiosity, and life-satisfaction preceded questions about the respondents’ mental health status and roman tic relationships. A total of 277 students initially completed the survey, providing a response rate of approximately 86%. After removing respondents from the sample who both reported that they were not undergraduate students at the time of the survey or who did not report information on the main dependent variable-mental health diagnoses-the survey sample consisted of 267 students.

2.2.1. Relationship Formation

Relationship formation was measured by asking respondents to agree or disagree with the following statement: “I prefer to have a relationship in which my partner does not have mental health issues” using a 5-point Likert scale in which 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree. Higher scores represented agreement that mentally healthy partners were preferred.

2.2.2. Relationship Maintenance

The association between relationship maintenance and mental health was measured by three variables. First, using the same Likert scale measure, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following five initial statements: (1) Being in a romantic relationship has improved my mental health; (2) I sometimes blame problems that I have in my romantic relationships on my partner’s mental health; (3) I sometimes blame problems that I have in my romantic relationships on my own mental health; (4) If problems occur in my romantic relationship, my partner sometimes blames their own mental health issues; and (5) If problems occur in my romantic relationship, my partner sometimes blames my mental health issues.

Mental health improvement focused on the first statement, ranging from 1 to 5, with 5 being strong agreement that the respondent’s mental health improved with their romantic relationship. The final four questions were combined into two variables: blaming the partner’s illness (based on statements 2 and 4; Chronbach’s alpha (?) = 0.61) and blaming the respondent’s illness (based on statements 3 and 5; ? = 0.60), with possible scores ranging from 2–10. These alpha scores are poor at best; however, initial tests using each question separately (5 measures instead of 3) found no statistically significant differences in outcomes, so blame variables were combined to reduce models for the manuscript. Initial tests are available by request.

2.2.3. Relationship Dissolution

Analysis related to ending a romantic relationship included three variables in regard to ending a relationship.” Partner’s dissolution” asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: A partner has broken up with me because of my mental health issues. “Respondent’s dissolution” asked a Tyskland brudar similar question, focusing on the respondent’s ending a relationship due to their partner’s mental health issues. Both measures ranged from 1–5, with higher scores indicating stronger levels of agreement. Finally, respondents were asked how many of their romantic relationships had ended due to mental health issues on behalf of one-or both-partners. For each of the two separate questions, respondents reported whether none, one, two, three, or four or more relationships had primarily ended due to their or their partner’s mental health issues. The two variables were combined to show a total count of the number of relationships ended due to mental health, ranging from 0 to 8, with higher values representing more relationships having ended due to mental illness.