Interpersonal relationships are the research focus of this contribution; as such, special attention was given to exploring the role of relationships over the last century. The relationship, which used to serve the level of merely sufficing instinctive needs, today plays a decisive role in the individual's development throughout his or her lifespan. In recent decades, the science of relationships has shifted the focus of study from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal field, as well as gained a new component - the interactional space between the self and other. It is about the generation of interpersonal space and potential psychic space for intimacy (Gostečnik 2010a, 346), all of which can lead to new states of consciousness, co-creating our minds and our own selves (Siegel 2015, 307-310).
Our research provided the basis for our exploration and evaluation of the unique role played by couple relationships. Our premise was that partners maintain a constant emotional interaction and that the couple relationship represents a unique space for interpersonal emotional interactions (Niven et al., 2012, 246-260; Zhang 2012, 697-712). We were interested in whether individuals who are engaged in a couple relationship differ from those who do not have the experience of an intimate couple relationship. Our research aimed to determine whether there are differences - as regards emotional processing, peer attachment and the emotional experience of parental relationships - between married individuals, unmarried individuals in a committed couple relationship, and single individuals. The results showed that differences exist in all three areas of research.
As concerns peer attachment and the capacity for emotional processing, individuals in a committed couple relationship are quite similar as compared to single individuals. Individuals in a committed couple relationship feel that they experience more interpersonal closeness with their peers and are emotionally more stable as compared to single individuals. As regards the emotional experiencing of parental relationships, the research demonstrated that unmarried individuals and single individuals are quite similar.
They claimed to have experienced better relationships with their parents while they were growing up than did married individuals; this is however not consistent with the findings of other studies.
A deeper analysis of the differences between groups has shown that the causes of inconsistency are likely due to the uneven distribution of important factors such as age, gender and type of living community.