Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Kara B. Wettersten


Autism spectrum disorder is an extremely prevalent developmental disorder, which impacts social-relational functioning. The majority of past research into autism has focused on childhood early intervention and skill development. In comparison, a minute amount of research has been dedicated to the study of autistic adults, particularly within the context of romantic relationships. In this article, we explore the relationships between autistic traits, relationship quality factors (i.e. intimacy, passion, commitment, and satisfaction), and the mediating variable of relationship maintenance behaviors as a possible mechanism in explaining this relationship. Contrary to our hypothesis, autism traits were shown to have no relationship with relationship maintenance behaviors among our participants, and only a minor relationship with relationship quality factors.Relationship maintenance behaviors did strongly predict relationship quality, regardless of autistic trait presence. Our results suggest the need for more study and a deeper understanding of relational processes within the ASD community.