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Close Relationships

Building, Continuing, Deterioration, & Ending

H. Colleen Sinclair

on 4 April 2017

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Transcript of Close Relationships

Close Relationships
From building to termination
The ABC's of Relationships
(Levinger, 1980)
Cultural Context
Social Network
Relationship Qualities
Partner B's Attributes
Partner A's Attributes
Partners' Compatibility
(A x B)
Low Quality Alternatives
Vulnerability-Stress-Adaptation Model
(Karney & Bradbury, 1995)
Adaptive Processes
External Stressors
Enduring Vulnerabilities
Initial Satisfaction
Change in Satisfaction
Relationship Dissolution
How does culture matter?
Consider that:
The majority of cultures allow polygamy
Or that arranged or semi-arranged marriages are still common
Or even in micro-cultures - cultures within cultures - single parenthood or co-parenting might be your family prototype
Or that in this increasingly technological age, online meetings are becoming common in industrialized nations.
These cultural norms will affect individual attitudes, expectations, and choices.
Courtship Cooperatives: Friends & Family
Set norms
Are the primary source of relationship introductions
Facilitate dating (actively & passively)
Are the primary source of "relationship work"
And their support - or lack thereof - can make or break a relationship (Le et al., 2010; Sprecher et al., 2006; aka: "The Social Network Effect.")
No Couple is an Island
(Revisit Attraction)
Frequency, Diversity, Time --> Interdependence
Valence --> Positive-Negative Asymmetry
Conflict Resolution
Attachment Styles
Do you pursue love or does love pursue you?
Implicit Theories of Relationships
(Knee, 1998)
0 = Not at all characteristic, 4 = Completely characteristic
____ A. It is easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or having others not accept me.
____ B. I am uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others.
____ C. I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don’t value me as much as I value them.
____ D. I am comfortable without close emotional relationships. It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient, and I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me.
Elements of Commitment Model
In Theory

(Inclusion of Other in Self)
Satisfaction (Global, Sexual)
Idealization (Positive Illusions)
Relationship Cognition & Affect
What is your attitude toward your relationship?
All good things...
Who Initiates
Breaking Up...
Willingness to Sacrifice
Derogation of Alternatives
It takes work to make relationships work
Relationship Maintenance
(v. Revenge)
(v. Assumption)
(v. Boredom)
(v. Selfishness)
and Equity
(v. Attractive Alternatives)
But what's fair?
Hatfield et al., 1978
More than just relationship math, though
Perception Matters (and that is influenced by an array of factors)
Communal vs. Exchange Orientations
Lively et al. 2008
The meta-analysis reveals that willingness to sacrifice was associated with both dyadic adjustment and persistence-termination, accounting for 21 % of the variance in adjustment and 16% of the variance in persistence .
The maintenance of a well-functioning relationship entails some willingness to set aside personal interests that conflict with couple well-being.
Perhaps as a consequence of relationship deterioration individuals become increasingly self-interested and exert less effort toward the goal of relationship maintenance
van Lange et al., 1997
Have you thanked your partner today?
Recent research has underscored the importance of gratitude to psychological and physical well-being (Emmons & McCullough, 2003),
And has shown that gratitude can help facilitate the development of close relationships (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008).
Among long-term relationships Gordon et al. (2010) had 50 couples (both husbands and wives) with a mean relationship length of 20.7 years complete daily diaries of their self-reported ratings of felt and expressed gratitude as well as relationship satisfaction for 2 weeks.
Results indicated that one’s felt and expressed gratitude both significantly relate to one’s own marital satisfaction.
Cross-partner analyses indicate that the individual’s felt gratitude also predicts the spouse’s satisfaction, whereas surprisingly his or her expressed gratitude does not.
I only have "neural activation" for you
Meyer et al., 2011
Types of Investments
Time (Past, present, future)
What would you lose if you lost the relationship?
Or not-so-good things...
Usually between year 7 & 8
"The 7-year itch"
Rejection --> Social Pain --> Physical Pain
Breakup of a significant relationship creates a panic response in the brain and such stress in the body that neuroscientists believe it can lead to a lowered immune system and illnesses.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a breakup can create physical heart pain (lower ventricles "stunned"), adrenaline rush, and shortness of breath. They call it
Broken Heart Syndrome.
Both men and women who were rejected, compared with those who did the rejecting, experienced more depression, loss of self-esteem, and rumination.
Rejectors, on the other hand, experienced the reputational cost of being perceived by others as cruel (Perilloux & Buss, 2008).
Specifically, individuals who were close to their former partner, who had dated the former partner for a long time, and who believed they could not easily acquire a desirable alternative tended to experience more pronounced distress following dissolution (Simpson, 1987).
Also, in a national study in Canada: Men who had undergone marital breakups were six times more likely to report an episode of depression (see also Bloom et al., 1978; Davis et al., 2003; Nolen-Hocksema & Girgus, 1994)
Constant Craving...
Recall from rejection lecture that there is physiological basis linked to "cravings" for the ex-partner.
Unwanted breakups disrupt or activate areas of the brain associated with
The self
Emotional regulation
More common if married young, less educated, and no children
Psychological Impact
Facebook Official
So is it?
And Don't Forget About Maintaining Physical Intimacy
Activate Oxytocin!
Lively et al., 2008
Helgeson, 1994
Self-expansion theory
(Aron & Aron, 1996)
However, it is "global" idealization that matters. You want specific realism (and to minimize negative realities & accentuate the positive).
It helps that there is also evidence for a "bro code"
Men evolutionarily programmed to not mate poach from a friend?
"Adult males usually elevate testosterone when interacting with adult women who are potential mates, but in a striking reversal, they have lower testosterone if the woman is a conjugal partner of a close friend." (Flinn et al., 2012)
Research on positive illusions shows that:

A. You want to idealize everything about your partner throughout your relationship.
B. You want to idealize your relationship generally, but be accurate about specifics.
C. You want to be accurate about your relationship generally, but gloss over the specifics.
D. Positive illusions about one’s partner ultimately leads to disappointment.

Lori doesn’t believe in the whole “love at first sight” idea. She believes there are any number of possible matches out in the world, but ultimately they are likely fleeting romances as the moment conflict arises her relationships tend to end. Which relationship orientation does Lori exemplify?

A. Cultivation
B. Evaluation
C. Helplessness
D. Optimization

Vulnerability-Stress-Adaptation Model
(Karney & Bradbury, 1995)
Adaptive Processes
External Stressors
Enduring Vulnerabilities
Initial Satisfaction
Change in Satisfaction
Relationship Dissolution
Full transcript