While high-quality relationships are associated with better physical and mental health for young people, low-quality relationships have been detrimental to health. A new study has now suggested that the faster young people get out of low-quality relationships, the better their health.
"The findings suggest that it's better for health to be single than to be in a low-quality relationship," said one of the researchers Ashley Barr, Assistant Professor at University at Buffalo in New York. "It's not being in a relationship that matters; it's being in a long-term, high-quality relationship that's beneficial," she said.
‘The longer people are in high-quality relationships, or the faster they get out of low-quality relationships, the better their health.’
The findings were published in the Journal of Family Psychology
Younger people today are waiting longer to get married than those in previous generations, and they're waiting longer to finish school. During this period, they are moving in and out of relationships.
"Much of the research literature focuses on relationships and health in the context of marriage," Barr said. "The majority of our respondents were not married, but these relationships are still impactful to health, for better or for worse," she noted.
Using the Iowa Youth and Families Project, Barr found that about one-third of the sample experienced relatively large changes in their relationships over a two-year period.
"We took into account satisfaction, partner hostility, questions about criticism, support, kindness, affection and commitment," Barr explained.
The study showed that the the longer people are in high-quality relationships, or the faster they get out of low-quality relationships, the better their health.
"Health benefits begin to accrue relatively quickly with high-quality relationships and supportive contexts," Barr said. And then we see detrimental effects from low-quality relationships - particularly, those low-quality relationships that last a long time," she pointed out.