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Close Romantic Relationships: Maintenance And E...

As well as these differences in what love tends to look like in close relationships over time, there are some interesting gender and cultural differences here. Contrary to some stereotypes, men, on average, tend to endorse beliefs indicating that true love lasts forever, and to report falling in love more quickly than women (Sprecher & Metts, 1989). In regards to cultural differences, on average, people from collectivistic backgrounds tend to put less emphasis on romantic love than people from more individualistic countries. Consequently, they may place more emphasis on the companionate aspects of love, and relatively less on those based on passion (Dion & Dion, 1993).

Close Romantic Relationships: Maintenance and E...


Attractive alternative partners pose a relational threat to people in romantic relationships. Given that people are often limited in their time and energy, having the capacity to effortlessly respond to such relational threats is extremely useful. In 4 studies, we explored how people's identity in terms of their romantic relationship--their relationship-specific identity--affects their relationship-protective behaviors. We predicted that once a relationship becomes a part of one's sense of self, relationship maintenance responses are exhibited in a relatively fluid, spontaneous manner. In Study 1, we assessed the convergent and divergent validity of relationship-specific identification, demonstrating how it is associated with other relationship constructs. In Study 2, we found that less identified participants mentioned their relationship less than those high in relationship-specific identification, but only when interacting with an attractive member of their preferred sex. In Study 3, using a dot-probe visual cuing task, we found that when primed with an attractive member of their preferred sex, those low in relationship-specific identification gazed longer at attractive preferred-sex others compared to those high in relationship-specific identification. In Study 4, we found that relationship-specific identification was associated with relationship survival 1-3 years after the initial assessment. The present results demonstrate that relationship-specific identification predicts relatively spontaneous, pro-relationship responses in the face of relational threat.

When maintaining a relationship, any behavior that is positive and promotes deepening trust and closeness between people is a prosocial maintenance behavior. The more prosocial behavior is evident in a relationship, the more likely for strong bonds to be formed, and the relationship to prosper and continue. Low levels of prosocial maintenance behavior give less reinforcement in the relationship, and thus more a weak foundation often leads to the relationships deterioration, or at least non-progression.[4]

Friends who have romantic intentions are more likely to use prosocial maintenance behavior. Friends that want to move to romantic relationships use more maintenance behaviors, as increases in maintenance behavior mark a change from friendship to romance.[5]

Romantic relationships have an extra element that is not found in friendship relationships. In romantic relationships, there is the intimacy element that is added. This is physical intimacy and a deeper emotional intimacy than a friendship would have. There are four relationship stages when it comes to romantic relationships:[9] casually dating, seriously dating, engaged, married.

People in long-distance relationships typically use fewer maintenance behaviors, such as openness, assurances, and joint activities, than people who are in a geographically close relationship.[13][14]

Romantic and close personal relationships use more openness and assurance maintenance behaviors and these are easier to communicate in person. But even these close connections are relying on more computer mediated communication today. Texting can have many uses, from coordinating task sharing to simply letting someone know they are being thought of. People may use Facebook to plan activities with others, announce new relationships, and provide support and encouragement to those in need. Even the birthday card has migrated online. Although technology cannot replace face-to-face communication in these cases, it can supplement and reinforce the importance of the relationship.[4]

Casual connections do not need the same amount of attention as close friendships and romantic relationships. Although there may be some face-to-face communication or telephone calls, social media such as Facebook is enough to maintain an acquaintanceship. Here they can post photos and comments to maintain contact and keep up on each other's lives. If someone is having a bad day, they can provide the necessary support and positivity needed to maintain the relationship.[4]

Some relationships start and stay online. Individuals may meet through a message board or on Facebook while living hundreds of miles away. These virtual relationships require the least amount of maintenance. People in a virtual-only relationship may be highly committed to each other and display just as much maintenance behavior as those in close proximity.[17]

Statistically, couples have shown that routine maintenance means more to their relationship than strategic maintenance does. Part of this has to do with the difference in routine maintenance and an exchange relationship. The key difference being that benefits are given without one expected in return, as in an exchange relationship. From this perspective the maintenance and enhancement of close relationships depends on the extent that both people are concerned for each other's needs, and are willing and able to meet those needs.[19]

Dailey, R. M., Rossetto, K., Pfiester, R. A., & Surra, C. A. (in press). A qualitative analysis of on-again/off-again romantic relationships: "It's up, it's down, all around." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Dailey, R. M., Hampel, A. D., & Roberts, J. (2010). Relational maintenance in on-again/off-again relationships: An assessment of how relational maintenance, uncertainty, and relational quality vary by relationship type and status. Communication Monographs, 77, 75-101.

Relationship maintenance strategies are tactics, efforts, and actions that individuals and partners utilize to keep a relationship, and the characteristics of a relationship, intact. The goal of relationship maintenance is not simply just to keep the relationship itself intact, but also the qualities of the relationship that both partners find enjoyable. For example, most partners in romantic relationships employ relationship maintenance strategies to keep the closeness, trust and commitment of the relationship. If these qualities were to falter the relationship would be terminated. (Canary & Dainton, 2003). [1]

All ongoing relationships require maintenance, but not necessarily the same level of maintenance; consider romantic relationships, friendships, relationships with family, as well as professional relationships with coworkers, colleagues and customers. A relationship with your sibling may not require the same level of maintenance as a relationship with a cousin. Relationships require a degree of mutual effort and investment from both partners (Kelly, et al., 1983).[2] Because relationships are ongoing, relationship maintenance must be continuous as well. Research from relational communication scholars shows that people spend more time maintaining a relationship than they do creating, growing, or ending a relationship (Duck, 1988). [3] 041b061a72


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