Single while partnered: perceived relationship status in various contexts

Jayda P. Felder, Laura V. Machia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At its core, romantic relationship status is binary (i.e., one is either single or partnered). However, many people often do not describe their status using this dichotomy. As such, we establish the construct perceived relationship status (PRS; the extent to which a person perceives themself as single versus partnered), and we demonstrate that people’s actual relationship status (ARS) and PRS are not always in alignment. In the current preregistered study, 150 participants reported their PRS across 27 hypothetical pre- and post-establishing exclusivity scenarios. We found considerable variation in PRS for every scenario, indicating that PRS is in fact distinct from ARS and is influenced by context for most people. Additionally, for the post-establishing exclusivity scenarios, the results of two repeated measures ANOVAs revealed that participants reported being significantly more single in certain intradyadic and social contexts than others. We also used this scenario data to qualitatively identify five distinct Consistent and Inconsistent profiles based on the nature of participants’ PRS-ARS misalignment. Lastly, we explored increased acceptance of infidelity as a potential outcome of the PRS-ARS misalignment within the context of the bachelor party, but our results did not indicate a significant association between the two. The implications of these findings and the need for future PRS research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13480-13491
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Bachelor party
  • Infidelity
  • Mixed methods
  • Perceived relationship status
  • Romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Single while partnered: perceived relationship status in various contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this