Journal of Undergraduate Research


shyness, relationship expectations


Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life


Emerging work suggests that socially withdrawn individuals are at risk for a variety of problems during emerging adulthood (Luster, Nelson, & Busby, 2013; Tackett, Nelson, & Busby, 2013). In particular, a variety of studies link relationship difficulties to shy individuals within the context of romantic relationships (Nelson et al., 2008; Luster et al., 2013). Those who are shy tend to enter into their first romantic relationship later than non-shy individuals (Asendorpf & Denissen, 2008). Even once shy individuals are romantically involved, Nelson et al. (2008) found that shy individuals report lower relationship quality than non-shy individuals. There have been some studies that have explored for potential mediations in identifying the reasons for lower relationship quality for those who are shy, identifying difficulties such as poorer communication skills, poorer relationship maintenance skills, and lower self-esteem (Luster et al., 2013; Baker & McNulty, 2010; Tackett et al., 2013). However, while these studies have been helpful in explaining many of the processes that shy individuals experience in their romantic relationships, they do not explain other phenomena within these relationships, such as what the budding stages of the relationships look like and why shy individuals tend to remain in these lower-quality relationships. Hence, the purposes of this study concern both the beginning and ending parts of romantic relationships for withdrawn individuals. The first purpose is to compare withdrawn groups of emerging adults, their expectations, or what they anticipate, upon entering a romantic relationship. The second purpose is to explore reasons for why withdrawn individuals would stay in a lower quality relationship rather than breaking up. Lastly, we will do all of this while separating out withdrawn subtypes. Withdrawn Subtypes There are three types of social withdrawal (Nelson, 2013). In table 1, we list the types of withdrawal (Nelson, 2013). There are two dimensions representing social motivations that exist within each individual, an approach motivation, and an avoidance motivation (Nelson, 2013). Shy individuals frequently feel both a strong desire to approach people as well as to avoid people (Nelson, 2013). Avoidant individuals are high in avoidant motivation, but low in approach motivation. The last group of withdrawn individuals is the unsocial group, who are low in both their approach motivation and their avoidance motivation (Nelson, 2013). The last group on the table is not a withdrawn subtype, they are the social group Nelson, 2013).