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Chapter Outline

  1. Why we form relationships. Factors of attraction influence our choice of relational partners.

    1. Appearance is especially important in the beginning of a relationship but becomes less important as the relationship progresses.
    2. The similarity thesis states that similarities form the basis of relationships.
      1. Similarities are validating.
      2. Enable us to make fairly accurate predictions.
      3. We assume similar people will like us, so we in turn like them.

    3. Complementarity is when each partner's characteristics satisfy the other's needs.
    4. Rewards - Some relationships are based on the economic model, called social exchange theory, that we seek out people that can give us rewards that are greater than or equal to the costs we encounter in dealing with them.
      1. Rewards + Costs = Outcome
      2. Comparison level (CL) is the minimum standard of what behavior in a relationship is acceptable.
      3. Comparison level of alternatives (CLalt) is the standard that compares the rewards one receives in a current relationship and what can be expected in other situations.

    5. Competency - We like to be around talented people because we hope others’ skills and abilities will rub off on us.
    6. Proximity matters because we are likely to develop relationships with people with whom we frequently interact.
    7. Disclosure involves telling others important information about yourself. Sharing important information breeds liking based on respect and trust. Reciprocity is key to satisfying disclosure. Timing is important in successful self-disclosure.
  2. Relational dynamics and communication have been described using two different characterizations of relational development and interaction.

    1. Knapp's developmental models of relational stages should also include relational maintenance, which is aimed at keeping relationships operating smoothly, in addition to the ten stages.

      1. Initiating is the stage where the goals are to show that you are interested in making contact and demonstrate that you are a person worth talking to.
      2. Experimenting is the stage after initiating, wherein we seek information about the other person, sometimes using small talk to find the information we seek.
      3. Intensifying involves spending more time together, shared activities, etc., and is marked by relational excitement and euphoria.
      4. Integrating is when couples take on an identity as a social unit and their social circles merge.
      5. Bonding is the stage where couples make symbolic public gestures to the world that their relationship exists and that a commitment has been made.
      6. Differentiating is when the couple starts to re-establish individual identities.
      7. Circumscribing stage is when partners reduce the scope of their contact with each other.
      8. Stagnating occurs when circumscribing continues and no new growth occurs.
      9. Avoiding takes place when stagnation becomes too unpleasant and people begin creating distance between each other.
      10. Terminating is the end of the relationship.
      11. Developmental models are limited because it doesn’t describe the ebb and flow of communication in every relationship.
    2. The dialectical perspective on relational dynamics is another way of explaining interaction in relationships and is focused on dialectical tensions, or conflicts that arise when two opposing or incompatible forces exist simultaneously.

      1. The integration–separation dialectic embodies the conflicting desires for connection and independence.
        1. The connection–autonomy dialectic is where we want to be close to others but also seek to be independent; it is an internal struggle.
        2. The inclusion–seclusion dialectic is the external struggle between integration and separation. The struggle to reconcile a desire for involvement with the “outside world” with the desire to live their own lives, free of interference from others.
      2. The stability–change dialectic operates between partners and when they face others outside the relationship.
        1. The predictability–novelty dialectic is the tension within a relationship between wanting a predictable partner but not wanting to be bored
        2. The conventionality–uniqueness dialectic is the tension felt by people when they try to meet others' expectations as well as their own.
      3. The expression–privacy dialectic captures the desire for both intimacy and need to maintain some space between ourselves and others.
        1. The open–closed dialectic is the internal struggle between expression and privacy.
        2. The revelation–concealment dialectic is the external expression of the conflict between openness and privacy.

    3. Strategies for managing dialectical tensions include denial, disorientation, alternation, segmentation, balance, integration, recalibration, and reaffirmation.
  3. Communicating about relationships.

    1. Content and relational messages.

      1. Content is the subject being discussed.
      2. Information about how the communicators feel about each other is relational.
      3. The expression of relational messages is achieved nonverbally and through metacommunication, which describes messages that refer to other messages.
    2. Maintaining and supporting relationships.

      1. Relational maintenance.
        1. Positivity is keeping things polite and upbeat and avoiding criticism.
        2. Openness is talking directly about the relationship.
        3. Assurances let the other person know that he or she matters to you.
        4. Social networks involves being invested in each other’s loved ones.
        5. Sharing tasks is helping the other take care of chores and obligations.
      2. Social support is about helping others during challenging times by providing emotional, informational, or instrumental resources.
    3. Repairing damaged relationships is challenging, as problems arise from outside or internal forces or from a relational transgression, which is when one partner violates the explicit or implicit terms of the relationship.

      1. Minor versus significant needs to be considered. Small doses of jealousy or anger or distance are not harmful, but large amounts are.
      2. Social versus relational is another consideration. Some transgressions violate social rules shared by society, while others are relational and violate the unique norms constructed by the people involved.
      3. Deliberate versus unintentional captures the notion that while some transgressions are unintentional, others are deliberate.
      4. One-time versus incremental means that some transgressions occur in a single episode while others occur over time.
    4. Strategies for relational repair include discussing the violation and for the offending partner to offer an apology.

      1. The apology should consist of an acknowledgement of wrong-doing, a genuine acknowledgment of regret, and some type of compensation.

    5. Forgiving transgressions is difficult, but it has personal and relational benefits.

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