K. JACOBS BAO
erators and mediators in the adaptation process—if we had
followed our participants for longer than 8 weeks. Furthermore,
the nonlinearity of the data decreased the power, decreasing the
chances of finding significant predictors of changes in positive
emotions over time.
Future research should strive to recruit a broader sample—
beyond merely college students—as the pattern of results may
differ for older participants. Young adults, many of whom may
be in their first serious relationships, may be less likely to adapt
rapidly to such novel experiences. They may be more likely to
savor and appreciate the experiences because they are under-
going them for the first time. Young adults also may feel less
rushed in their relationships (e.g., to get married or start a fam-
ily), and thus may have more time to relish their relationship
experiences. Also, by assessing participants on many occasions,
including weeks, months, or years before they start a romance,
we may obtain a better understanding of the processes underly-
ing adaptation to intimate relationships. Such a long period of
assessment would allow us to capture not only those who adapt
relatively quickly (e.g., days or weeks), but also those who may
take years to adapt to their relationships. In addition, we would
be able to observe different trajectories of well-being over time
and possibly connect those changes in well-being with different
life events (e.g., getting engaged, having a child, etc.) or with
individual difference variables (e.g., sex or ethnicity composi-
tion of the relationship or personality).
Furthermore, it is important to use a sample of participants
who are in dating, rather than married, relationships, because
much of the adaptation process occurs before one even starts to
think about getting married. The first few months of a relation-
ship may entail the biggest changes in well-being, and thus it is
important to capture those months using a dating population.
We may even find that a relationship is characterized by multi-
ple adaptation periods. Lucas and colleagues (2003) have found
evidence of adaptation to marriage, but adaptation may also
occur to the beginning of the premarital relationship. It would
be interesting to compare a person’s baseline well-being to her
well-being after adapting to a new relationship and, later, after
adapting to marriage to her relationship partner. It is possible
that people adapt completely to marriage, but they do not adapt
completely to the premarital relationship. These and other ques-
tions about well-being and hedonic adaptation remain. Learning
the answers to these questions will aid in understanding how
people can thwart adaptation to relationships, which will pro-
mote greater relationship satisfaction, higher well-being, and
may even help to lengthen relationships.
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