Depression, emotion regulation, and the demand/withdraw pattern during intimate relationship conflict

Sarah R. Holley*, Claudia M. Haase, Irene Chui, Lian Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The demand/withdraw pattern is a detrimental set of communication behaviors in which one partner nags or pressures while the other partner avoids or withdraws. Past studies evaluating the influence of depression on this pattern have shown mixed findings. The present study sought to advance what is known by investigating whether difficulties in emotion regulation mediated the association between depression and the demand/withdraw pattern. A sample of 253 romantic couples participated in an online survey. Data were analyzed using a mediated actor–partner interdependence model framework. Results indicated that the association between an individual’s level of depression and his or her tendency to withdraw while the partner demanded was fully mediated by difficulties in emotion regulation. This study supports the notion that there is a link between depression and the demand/withdraw pattern and further suggests that difficulties in emotion regulation may play an important role in understanding elements of this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-430
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Communication
  • couples
  • demand/withdraw
  • depression
  • emotion regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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