What are Destiny and Growth Beliefs
Destiny and growth beliefs are the assumptions an individual has about how relationships are cultivated and developed, and whether certain aspects of relationships are unchangeable. These beliefs run on a continuum rather than a dichotomy. Therefore, you can have a combination of the two ranging between high and low on either belief. The image below shows the continuum of high/low destiny and high/low growth beliefs, and the four subgroups they create:
So what are destiny beliefs? Individuals with strong destiny beliefs will find the most relationship satisfaction when they believe that their partner is “the one”. This can also be seen as a “soulmate” perspective, waiting for their “one and only”. This belief places the most importance on initial relationship satisfaction and initial closeness as successful relationship cues. These individuals tend to disengage, shut down, or distance themselves in response to conflict. If satisfaction is low early in the relationship, they will be more likely to end it, rather than work on it. They are also more likely to use negative strategies to end the relationship, like ghosting (suddenly ending communication with a partner). These individuals tend to have more deal breakers in a relationship, but will also acknowledge their part in a relationship ending. Though this belief has its qualms, destiny beliefs do hold utility when the best outcome of a relationship is to end (ie. abusive relationships or high conflict relationships).
Now on to growth beliefs. Individuals with high growth beliefs rely on working together, or working out conflict, in a relationship in order to have relationship satisfaction. Since they find importance in working out relationship problems, they are more likely to use positive coping mechanisms and elicit discussions of problem solving in response to negative relationship events. These beliefs are also associated with less denial about relationship hardships, and stronger desire to continue to work on it rather than end the relationship. If these individuals discover that their partner is not their ideal/perfect mate, they may not be threatened by this and may not dissolve the relationship due to this alone. These individuals often have optimistic outlooks on both the evaluation of relationship potential and when looking retrospectively on ended relationships.
Growth beliefs hold the most utility in maintaining a relationship, and therefore, it is often used/supported in couples counseling. Those with higher growth beliefs will be more likely to seek professional help when the conflict is too difficult to work out on their own. These individuals are often open about feelings and non-defensive towards one another in sessions. Having a higher willingness to compromise, implement new coping strategies, and being less likely to avoid issues, often leads to a higher success rate while in couples therapy. Therefore, possessing strong growth beliefs can foster a positive outcome for couples in therapy. If those with stronger destiny beliefs do seek professional guidance, it is more often to ask if the relationship should be terminated. A therapist working with a couple who possess stronger destiny beliefs may have a difficult time trying to facilitate compromises (especially on deal breakers), change in their avoidant patterns, openness with their partner, and growth within themselves. All in all, by utilizing growth beliefs, therapists can teach communication skills, problem solving tactics, and encourage the discussion and acceptance of differences.
Franiuk, R., Cohen, D., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2002). Implicit theories of relationships: Implications for relationship satisfaction and longevity. Personal Relationships, 9(4), 345–367. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6811.09401
Freedman, G., Powell, D. N., Le, B., & Williams, K. D. (2019). Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(3), 905–924. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517748791
Knee, C. R. (1998). Implicit theories of relationships: Assessment and prediction of romantic relationship initiation, coping, and longevity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(2), 360–370. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2060
Knee, C. R., Nanayakkara, A., Vietor, N. A., Neighbors, C., & Patrick, H. (2001). Implicit theories of relationships: Who cares if romantic partners are less than ideal? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), 808–819. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167201277004
Knee, C. R., Patrick, H., & Lonsbary, C. (2003). Implicit theories of relationships: Orientations toward evaluation and cultivation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7(1), 41–55. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327957PSPR0701_3
Knee, C. R., & Petty, K. N. (2013). Implicit theories of relationships: Destiny and growth beliefs. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of close relationships (pp. 183–198). Oxford University Press.
Kracht, T. M., & Powell, D. N. (2021). Media Consumption: Association With Implicit Theories of Romantic Relationships. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 26(4). Shanmugavelu, G., & Arumugam, A. (2020). The process and importance of marriage counseling for married couples: An overview. EPRA International Journal of Research and Development (IJRD), 5(12), 159–166. https://doi.org/10.36713/epra5915