Antecedents and consequences of explicit agreements to declare a topic taboo in dating relationships

Michael E. Roloff*, Danette Ifert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Some intimates try to prevent relational problems by agreeing not to talk about them again. This article investigates the antecedents and consequences of explicitly or implicitly declaring a topic taboo. A survey of college daters indicated that explicit agreements are more likely when individuals declare the topics unimportant to their relationship, but are less likely when the topic is perceived to be relationally harmful. Furthermore, prolonged discussion prior to declaring a topic taboo increases the explicitness of the accord. Relational satisfaction is negatively associated with the number of taboo topics, and with the degree to which such agreements are explicit. However, the association between satisfaction and explicitness is moderated by relational commitment. The negative association is only statistically significant among individuals who are relatively uncommitted or moderately committed to their relationship. Furthermore, this ordinal interaction proves to be a more powerful predictor of relational satisfaction that is the number of taboo topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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