Examining the Bidirectional Nature of Topic Avoidance and Relationship Dissatisfaction: The Moderating Role of Communication Skills
This study examined the bidirectional nature of the association between one's own topic avoidance and relationship dissatisfaction. It also explored how perceptions of a dating partner's communication competence and one's own communication efficacy affect this association. Three hundred
undergraduates tracked their topic avoidance with their dating partner over a two week period. The results provided modest support for the idea that the association between topic avoidance and dissatisfaction is bidirectional for women, but not men. In addition, for men and women, global dissatisfaction
with their dating relationship was a stronger predictor of daily topic avoidance (than daily topic avoidance was of daily dissatisfaction). Initial global levels of relationship dissatisfaction predicted greater levels of topic avoidance and this effect was quite stable over time, particularly
for women. The results also revealed that the perception of a partner's communication incompetence was indirectly associated with increases in topic avoidance over time only because it affected one's communication efficacy. Finally, the results indicated that women who were highly efficacious
were particularly dissatisfied by their topic avoidance over time.