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Using the textbook, additional readings and lecture notes that support this assignment, analyze “The Saga of Sam and Alex” in terms of the concept areas highlighted above. Wherever you can, use short quotes from the story to support your argument.  Your answer should include, at least, an analysis of: (1) the stages this relationship has gone through and where it seems to be now, (2) how our culture’s beliefs about love and romance may have contributed to the problems faced by this couple, (3) how the “hamburger fight” is an indication of this couple’s inability to deal with conflict, and, (4) how this fight might have been done differently and perhaps have led this “saga” to a different ending.

FINAL WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT
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FORMAT: 8 Pages, Printed, Double-spaced
The Assignment:
We develop relationships with others to serve basic human functions and to meet our needs.
We create perceptions of the other person and attempt to get them to perceive us in certain
ways through various levels of self-disclosure, using different kinds of talk (e.g. CONNECT,
D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.). To sustain a relationship, a supportive climate (the Humanistic model) must
be enacted by both parties in order to encourage on-going disclosure and the movement
towards deeper emotional ties, while keeping the use of defenses and game playing (from TA)
to a minimum.
Climate is particularly important when we need to deal with the various levels of disagreement
or conflict that inevitably emerge in our relationships. In building and maintaining relationships,
how people fight is just as important as how they love. Their “fighting style”depends on their
quality of their emotional self-management and conflict management skills (e.g. light or heavy
CO.N.T.RO.L. vs. D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.).
Finally, all continuing romantic relationships go through a variety of developmental phases
that involve different types or levels of intimacy and love. How we respond to this cycle is
shaped, in part, by the beliefs about love and romance (see additional readings on web site)
we have adopted from our families and the mass media.
Using the textbook, additional readings and lecture notes that support this assignment,
analyze “The Saga of Sam and Alex” in terms of the concept areas highlighted above.
Wherever you can, use short quotes from the story to support your argument. Your answer
should include, at least, an analysis of: (1) the stages this relationship has gone through and
where it seems to be now, (2) how our culture’s beliefs about love and romance may have
contributed to the problems faced by this couple, (3) how the “hamburger fight” is an indication
of this couple’s inability to deal with conflict, and, (4) how this fight might have been done
differently and perhaps have led this “saga” to a different ending.
Note:
You may analyze not only the communication you see in the case but also the communication
that you might reasonably infer has (or has not) happened in the story when it is noted that
some time has elapsed. You’ll note that the names of each person are gender-neutral
“nicknames”. If you wish, you may assign a gender to each of the participants and use this
concept in your analysis. Just remember to stay focused on the data on gender and
communication style we have referred to in lectures and readings.
The Saga of Sam and Alex
ALEX: Hi. Didn’t I see you in English last semester?
SAM:
Yeah. I’m surprised you noticed me. I cut that class more than I attended. I really hated it.
ALEX: So did I. Higgins never did seem to care much about whether you learned anything
or not.
SAM:
That’s why I think I skipped so often. Your name’s Alex, isn’t it?
ALEX: Yes. And you’re Sam right?
SAM:
Right. What are you doing in Interpersonal Communication?
ALEX: I’m majoring in communication. I want to go into television production ‑ or something
like that. I’m not really sure. What about you?
SAM: It’s required for engineering. I guess they figure engineers should learn to
communicate.
ALEX: You gonna have lunch after this class?
SAM:
Yeah. You?
ALEX: Yeah. How about going over to the student centre for a bite?
[At the Student Centre Food Court]
SAM:
I’m not only surprised you noticed me in English. I’m really flattered. Everyone in
the class I met seemed to be interested in you.
ALEX: Well. I doubt that, but it’s nice to hear.
SAM:
No, I mean it. Come on. You know you’re popular.
ALEX: Well, maybe … but it always seems to be with the wrong people. Except for
you, of course.
SAM:
(Smiling) Cool. Keep talking.
ALEX:
Well…are you up for doing something tonight? Maybe a movie? I know it’s last
minute but just in case….
SAM:
I’d love to. Hang on. (Looks down at a cell phone and starts texting.) That takes
care of that…I’m good.
ALEX: OK, because now I’m feeling good.
SAM:
Me too.
[Six months later]
ALEX: I got a surprise for you. Something I hope you’re gonna like.
SAM:
What is it?
ALEX: Take a look.
SAM:
[Opens the package and finds a ring] I love it. I can’t believe it! You know, a few
weeks ago when we had to write up a recent fantasy for class, I wrote one I didn’t
turn in. And this was it. My very own fantasy, coming true – I love you.
ALEX. I love you … very much.
[Alex and Sam have now been living together for about two years.]
ALEX: (Pleasantly happy) It’s me. I’m home.
SAM:
(Pleasant) So am I.
ALEX: (Vigilant annoyance) That’s not hamburgers I smell, is it?
SAM:
(Defensive annoyance) Yes, it is. I like hamburgers. We can afford hamburgers.
And I know how to cook hamburgers. Make something else if you don’t want’ em.
ALEX. (Heavy sarcasm) Thanks so much. Nice to know you care to
make something I really like. I hate these damn things. And I
really hate’em four times a week.
SAM:
(Sharp, cold anger) Then eat out.
ALEX: (Frustration) You know I have work to do tonight. I haven’t got time to go out.
SAM:
(Contempt) So shut up and eat the burgers. I love them.
ALEX: (Sarcasm) Great. It’s all about you. Whatever happened to us and we?
SAM:
(Angry sadness) They died when I found out about your little side trips up north.
ALEX: (Frustration and remorse) But I told you I was sorry about that. That was
six months ago, anyway. I got involved. It was stupid, I’m sorry. Are you
gonna punish me forever? I’m sorry. Damn it I’m sorry!
SAM:
(Anger and sarcasm) Yeah, well so am I! I’m the one who really got screwed while
you were out screwing around.
ALEX: (Sadly frustrated) Is that why you don’t want to make love? You always have some
kind of excuse.
SAM:
(Intense anger) It’s not an excuse, buddy, it’s a reason! I’ve been lied to and cheated
on. I’m not making love to someone who treats me like dirt?
ALEX: (Remorseful) But I don’t treat you like dirt, I love you.
SAM:
(Angry contempt) Well, I don’t love you. Hell, maybe I never did!
ALEX: (Controlled rage) I’m outta here!
[Two weeks later]
ALEX: (Submissive, fearful) Did you mean what you said when you said you didn’t love me?
SAM:
(Sad, acceptance) I think I did. When I learned about your little “trips”, I just
couldn’t deal with it. I guess I tried to protect myself and, in the process, I
just lost my feelings for you.
ALEX: (Apprehensive) Then why do you stay with me? Why don’t you leave?
SAM:
ALEX:
SAM:
(Angry acceptance) Fine. Then let’s separate. I can’t live with someone
who stays with me out of fear of being alone, who doesn’t want to be
touched, and who doesn’t want to love me. (Pause, softer)…maybe we
need some distance, maybe you’ll realize that we should try again.
(Sad acceptance) I won’t. Maybe separation is the best thing.
ALEX:
SAM:
(Frustrated, annoyed) So you’re going to stay with me because you’re afraid to
be alone? That’s crazy. Crazy. I’d rather have us break up than live like this ‑ a
loveless pair, living separate lives under the same roof. What kind of life is that?
(Sad acceptance) Not much.
ALEX:
SAM:
(Fearful, acceptance) I don’t know. Maybe I’m afraid to be alone. I’m not sure I can
do it alone.
(Calmer acceptance) OK. You stay home and I’ll go to my brother’s place tonight.
I’ll pick up my things tomorrow when you’re at work. I just couldn’t do that when
you’re here.
(Deep sadness) Good‑bye.
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
THE BASES FOR RELATIONSHIPS
Lecture 20a
FUNCTIONS OF INTERPERSONAL
RELATIONSHIPS
• TO ALLEVIATE LONELINESS
• TO SECURE STIMULATION
• TO MAXIMIZE PLEAURE AND
MINIMIZE PAIN
• TO GAIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND
SELF-ESTEEM
RELATIONSHIPS MEET DEEP
PERSONAL NEEDS
SELF-ACTUALIZING
ESTEEM
BELONGING
SECURITY
PHYSIOLOGICAL
RELATIONSHIPS ANSWER KEY
QUESTIONS
• SELF-CONCEPT IS
PERCEPTION/COGNITION OF SELF WHO AM I?
• SELF-ESTEEM: HOW WE FEEL ABOUT
SELF
•
•
•
DO I MATTER?
AM I CAPABLE?
CAN I INFLUENCE MY LIFE?
TWO KEY BASES OF HUMAN
ATTRACTION
• Proximity – Geographic closeness
•
THOSE WE INTERACT WITH MORE OFTEN
• Similarity – People who share
•
•
MANY OF OUR INTERESTS, VALUES, ATTITUDES
KEY PERSONAL NEEDS: BELONGING
• IT’S ALL ABOUT:
• Consistency – We like people like us
•
•
LIVE NEAR PEOPLE SOCIALLY LIKE US
AS WE COMMUNICATE WITH SOMEONE SIMILAR TO US,
WE BECOME MORE SIMILAR IN OUR ATTITUDES TOWARD
A GIVEN ISSUE.
BASES OF HUMAN
ATTRACTION
• Attraction develops from proximity and
similarity in the following situations:
• Perceived Reciprocity of Liking
• Attraction to others can depend on whether you feel that
the people you like also like you- SIMILARITY
• Another’s “liking”increases your self-worth you return the
compliment with reciprocal liking.
• Complementary needs
• Attraction is also based on COMPLEMENTARITY rather
than on similarity
• Dominance/submission, protection/dependence,
talk/silence
COMPLEMENTARITY: NEEDS AND
BEHAVIOR
DOMINANCE
Hi
AFFILIATION
ADVISES
COORDS.
DIRECTS
LEADS
ANALYZES
CRITICIZES
DISAPPROVES
JUDGES
Hi
Lo
ACQUIESCES
AGREES
ASSISTS
OBLIGES
CONCEDES
EVADES
RETREATS
WITHDRAWS
Lo
SATISFYING
RELATIONSHIPS
THREE FEATURES OF SATISFYING
RELATIONSHIPS
â–ª INVESTMENT
▪ WHAT WE GIVE TO OTHER AND CAN’T GET BACK IF
RELATIONSHIP ENDS -OURSELVES, OUR HISTORY
â–ª COMMITMENT
â–ª BELIEF IN FUTURE; WORK THROUGH CONFLICTS
â–ª TRUST
â–ª
â–ª
â–ª
â–ª
RELIABILITY (DO WHAT YOU SAY)
COMMUNICATE HONESTLY
RELY ON OTHER FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
BUILD TRUST THRU SELF-DISCLOSURE
TRUST: REMINDER
â–ª TRUST
â–ª BUILD TRUST THRU SELFDISCLOSURE
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
THE BASES FOR RELATIONSHIPS
Lecture 20b
TRUST AND SELF-DISCLOSURE
• SHOULD HAPPEN GRADUALLY
• RECIPROCITY – MATCHING LEVELS
• DECLINES OVER TIME
KNOWN TO SELF
KNOWN
TO
OTHERS
1. OPEN
AREA
UNKNOWN
TO
OTHERS
3. HIDDEN
AREA
UNKNOWN TO SELF
2. BLIND
AREA
4. UNKOWN
AREA
SELF IN A TRUSTING
RELATONSHIP
KNOWN TO SELF
KNOWN
TO
OTHERS
UNKNOWN
TO
OTHERS
OPEN
AREA
HIDDEN
AREA
UNKNOWN TO SELF
BLIND
AREA
UNKOWN
AREA
TRUST AND SELF-DISCLOSURE
• Early Small Talk
• Breadth –
the variety of topics communicated.
• There are many relationships in which the range of subjects you
talk about is broad, yet discussion remains superficial.
• Depth -the intimacy of what is communicated.
• Tell someone about your work you do, but add your
dissatisfaction with it or your search for a new one is far more
personal and revealing. Such information intensifies the depth
of your relationship
OVER TIMES DISCLOSURE CAN
DEEPEN
• Statements Perceived as occuring in a Two
Hour Conversation Perviously Unacquatined
Persons:
• 200 Adults reviewed a 150 statements. A few of
them are outlined below. They agreed that in a two
hour conversation one might reveal them in this
order.
• In the first 15 minutes:
• I’m a volunteer at a local hospital
• I’m from Toronto
• My son is in first year year at York.
• From 15 -30 minutes
• My wife is a good cook.
• The Leafs suck this year.
OVER TIMES DISCLOSURE CAN
DEEPEN
• From 45 to 60 minutes.
• I’ve never been away on vacation.
• I wear contact lenses.
• From 60 to 75 minutes.
• People who don’t finish what they start annoy me.
• I don’t believe in evolution..
• From 75 to 90 minutes:
• I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I’m not sure.
• My mother-in-law really hates me.
• From 90 – 105 minutes:
• I have a violent temper.
• I think we got married much too young.
SATISFYING RELATIONSHIPS:
RELATIONAL DYNAMICS
â–ª TENSIONS IN ALL
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN:
â–ª AUTONOMY/CONNECTION
â–ª SHARING OF SPACE VS.DISTANCE TO
MAINTAIN INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY
â–ª NOVELTY/PREDICTABILITY
â–ª BALANCE ROUTINE WITH NEW EXPERIENCES
â–ª OPENNESS/CLOSENESS
â–ª SHARED THOUGHTS VS. PRIVACY
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
THE BASES FOR RELATIONSHIPS
Lecture 20c
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF
SATISFYING RELATONSHIPS
•
•
•
•
•
1. TRUST
2. INTIMACY
3. ACCEPTANCE
4. SUPPORT
5. PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE
SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS OF
FRIENDSHIP RELATIONSHIPS
1. Demonstrate emotional support.
2. Try to make the friend happy when the two
of you are together.
3. Stand up for the friend in his or her absence
4. Share information and feelings about
successes.
5. Trust each other; confide in each other.
6. Offer to help the friend in time of need.
SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS OF
ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Acknowledge one another’s individual identities
and lives beyond the relationship.
Express similar attitudes, beliefs, values, and
interests.
Enhance one another’s self-worth and selfesteem
Be open, genuine, and authentic with one another.
Remain loyal and faithful to one another.
Have substantial shared time together.
Reap rewards commensurate with their
investments relative to the other party.
Experience a mysterious and inexplicable
“magic” in one another’s presence.
ROMANTIC LOVE: THREE
DIMENSIONS
• 1. PASSION (“Magic”)
• EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, INTELLECTUAL
• 2. COMMITMENT
• AN INTENTION TO REMAIN WITH A RELATIONSHIP ACT OF WILL.
• 3. INTIMACY
• INCLUDES FEELINGS OF CLOSENESS, CONNECTION,
AND TENDERNESS
â–ª D. Sternberg
LOVE’S PROGRESS
• PASSION: QUICK TO DEVELOP (+) AND LEVEL OFF. HABITUATE.
• INTIMACY GROWS STEADILY AT
FIRST THEN LEVELS OFF
• COMMITMENT: INCREASES
GRADUALLY, THEN MORE RAPIDLY,
LEVELS OFF
COMMITTED ROMANTIC
RELATIONSHIPS
•
•
•
•
VOLUNTARY RELATIONSHIPS
PRIMARY AND CONTINUING
PERMANENT
ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL FEELINGS
AND LOVE
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
Romantic Love,“Real Love”And
The Cycle of Relationships
Lecture 21a
KEY EXPECTATION OF A ROMANTIC
RELATIONSHIP
Experience a mysterious and
inexplicable “magic” in one
another’s presence.
FALLING IN “LOVE”
SEX-LINKED EROTIC EXPERIENCE -THE
CHEMICAL COCKTAIL.
EFFORTLESS -TALK IS EASY
COLLAPSE OF EGO BOUNDARIES
ALWAYS PASSES
NO EXTENSION OF SELF – NO REACHING
BEYOND GOOD FEELING
The Language of Romantic
Love
The Phenomena of
Recognition
• We’ve just met, but I feel like I already know you.
Timelessness
• Feels like I’ve always known you.
Reunification
• When I’m with you I feel complete. I’ve found my other half.
Necessity
• I can’t lie without you.
H. Hendrix, getting the Love You Want
Romantic Love is an
“emotional brain” Phenomena
Falling in love
• Emotional brain – fuses image of lover with primary
caretaker
Intimate love is the ultimate in caretaking
• Illusion of safety and security
• Total absorption
Instinctual bonding
• The way a mother bonds with infant
Not the same as mature or “real” love
• That requires consciousness
“REAL” LOVE (COMMITMENT):
SCOTT PECK
THE WILL TO EXTEND ONESELF FOR THE
PURPOSE OF NURTURING ONE’S OWN
OR ANOTHER’S SPIRITUAL GROWTH
TIES SELF-LOVE WITH LOVE FOR OTHER
REQUIRES EFFORT – D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
ACT OF MINDFULNESS -WILL, CHOICE
MYTH OF ROMANTIC LOVE
THERE IS ANOTHER “MEANT FOR YOU” TRUE LOVE
RECOGNITION OF THIS OTHER -YOU “FALL
IN LOVE”
PERFECT MATCH – SATISFY EACH OTHER
FOREVER
FALL OUT OF LOVE – DREADFUL MISTAKE
SEARCH AGAIN
CULTURAL BURDEN
MASS MEDIA AND ROMANCE
TRADITIONAL FORMULA:
THE ENCOUNTER: COURTSHIP
THE CONFRONTATION: LOVER’S QUARREL
THE SEDUCTION: SEXUAL- INTELLECTUAL
CONFESSION OF LOVE: AFTER FIGHTING
MARRIAGE: NO DRAMA AFTER THIS
REALITY TV HAS IMPROVED ON THIS SITUATION THROUGH SHOWS LIKE “JESSICA AND NICK” or
DR. PHIL
• WHERE THE DRAMA IS IN THEIR INCOMPETENCE
RE DAILY LIFE SKILLS
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
1. COMING TOGETHER
5 SUB-STAGES
2. COMING APART
5 SUB-STAGES
MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
Romantic Love,“Real Love”And
The Cycle of Relationships
Lecture 21b
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING TOGETHER
ANSWERING THE THREE KEY
QUESTIONS
REDUCING UNCERTAINTY
THE THREE KEY QUESTIONS
What’s going on?
• The purpose of the talk, are we going to get through this
conversation smoothly?
. Who am I to you and who are you to me in
this situation?
• Particularly noticeable at moments like the first time you meet
someone
• We let others know about the kind of people we are and how they
are (in our eyes)
What is going to happen next?
• Are we going to do something together (instrumental), or simply
connect in the moment (relational). Discovering what we are
going to do next also shapes our communication in the moment.
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING TOGETHER
1. INITIATING
INVITATIONAL COMMUNICATION: SCAN
EACH OTHER FOR INTEREST – WATCH
RESPONSE
CONNECT TALK: RITUAL
CONVERSATION STARTERS
CAUTIOUS VS. CONVENTIONAL – AR
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
2. EXPERIMENTING
TRY DIFFERENT TOPICS – CONNECT TALK-LOOKING FOR
SIMILARITIES – SOMETHING IN COMMON
ANY PERCEIVED RECIPROCITY OF LIKING
3. INTENSIFYING
INCREASE RELATIONSHIP DEPTH THRU PERSONAL
KNOWLEDGE – self-disclosure – opening “box 3”
PHYSICAL CLOSENESS
CREATING A PRIVATE CULTURE
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
4. INTEGRATING
THEY AND OTHERS CONSIDERS THEM A COUPLE
SYMBOLIC ID – RING, OUR SONG, PLACE
VALUE MORE OF SAME THINGS, FOCUS ON SOME PARTS OF
PERSONALITY-MINIMIZE OTHERS
REINFORCES THE CONSISTENCY PRINCIPLE: The more we communicate with
someone similar to us on the surface, the more similar we become to them in deeper
ways, e.g. in our attitudes towards particular issues.
WE ARE CREATING AN “US”
CAN LEAD TO A COMMITMENT TO PERMANENCY
5. BONDING
FORMAL RITUALS -ENGAGEMENT, MARRIAGE, LIVE TOGETHER
GAIN SOCIAL SUPPORT – ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIP RULES
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING APART
1. DIFFERENTIATING
NOTICE AND FOCUS ON DIFFERENCES
TALKING ABOUT COMING APART
COMMMUNICATION IN
EVERYDAY LIFE
Romantic Love,“Real Love”And
The Cycle of Relationships
Lecture 21c
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING APART
1. DIFFERENTIATING
NOTICE AND FOCUS ON DIFFERENCES
TALKING ABOUT COMING APART
COMING APART: REVIEW OF KEY
FACTORS
UNRESOLVED TENSIONS
AUTONOMY/CONNECTION
SHARING OF SPACE VS.DISTANCE TO MAINTAIN INDIVIDUAL
IDENTITY
NOVELTY/PREDICTABILITY
INCOMPLETE SELF
DISCLOSURE
AREAS OF SELF: OPEN, HIDDEN,
BLIND, UNKNOWN
BALANCE ROUTINE WITH NEW EXPERIENCES
OPENNESS/CLOSENESS
SHARED THOUGHTS
SHATTERED
EXPECTATIONS
1. TRUST
2. INTIMACY
3. ACCEPTANCE
4. SUPPORT
5. PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE
PROBLEMATIC FIGHTING
STYLES
“ VOICES” USED
PARENT, CHILD, ADULT
TYPE OF TALK
LIGHT – HEAVY C.O.N.T.R.O.L. – ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE
D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Forcing-Accommodation-AvoidanceCompromise-Collaboration
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING APART
1. DIFFERENTIATING
NOTICE AND FOCUS ON DIFFERENCES
COUPLE “NEEDS SPACE” SO,
FIGHTING INCREASES
MORE USE OF MUTUAL HEAVY
C.O.N.T.R.O.L.
HEAVY C.O.N.T.R.O.L
R.
H
E
0.
A
V
Y
L.
RIGHTEOUS
ANGER
RIGHTEOUS
INDIGNATION
OVERT
AGGRESSION
OVERT
PASSIVE
AGRESSIVE
PUT DOWN
LABEL
MINDREAD
COMMAND
VENT-YELL
DEMAND
THREATEN
CRITICIZE
RIDICULE
USE SARCASM
LIE
INTENSE
COMPLAINT
DISQUALIFY
WORDS
WHINE
PLAY MARTYR
WITHHOLD
DENY
LAY
BLAME
LAY
BLAME
PUT DOWN SELF
GIVE EXCUSES
PROCRASTINATE
THREE KEY QUESTIONS:
RENEGOTIATING THE ANSWERS
Question number two is key:
Who am I to you and who are you to me in this
situation?
• “You’re not the person I married….I thought I knew?” “What’s
happened to you…” “I thought you liked my cooking, mother,
father, ideas on…..” “When did you start getting interested in ….
What’s going on?
• “What do you mean…you need your space?”
• “What are we really talking about here?”.
• REMEMBER, HEAVY CONTROL IS ABOUT INTENTION, TRUTH,
BLAME.
What is going to happen next?
• Are we going on together or not? Are we adjusting, changing,
struggling some more, leaving?”
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING APART
2. CIRCUMSCRIBING
REDUCE FREQUENCY- INTIMACY OF COMMUNICATION
“HOT” TOPICS AVOIDED TO REDUCE FIGHTS
INCREASED FORMALITY
3. STAGNATING
“HOLDING ON” FOR OTHER REASONS
RELATIONSHIP NO LONGER DISCUSSED
THE MARRIAGE DISSOLUTION
CASCADE
Repeated
• Complaining and criticizing leads to
• Contempt, which leads to
• Defensiveness, which leads to
• Listener Withdrawal from
interaction (stonewalling).
See Gottman in Additional Reading 15
MARRIAGE DISSOLUTION CASCADE:
Flooding and Contempt
VIDEO EXAMPLE
MARRIAGE DISSOLUTION CASCADE:
Flooding and Contempt
VIDEO EXAMPLE
LIFE CYCLE OF RELATIONSHIPS
COMING APART
3. STAGNATING
“HOLDING ON” FOR OTHER REASONS
RELATIONSHIP NO LONGER DISCUSSED
4. AVOIDING
PHYSICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL SEPARATION
SEEK SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS/FAMILY
5. TERMINATING
LONGER THE RELATIONSHIP MORE PAINFUL
SPECIFIC SEPARATION MESSAGES
MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS
PROSOCIAL BEHAVIORS
POLITE, CHEERFUL, FRIENDLY; AVOID CRITICISM;
COMPROMISE EVEN WHEN IT INVOLVES SELF-SACRIFICE.
TALKING ABOUT A SHARED FUTURE
CEREMONIAL BEHAVIORS
CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS,ANNIVERSARIES
DISCUSSING PAST PLEASURABLE TIMES
EAT AT FAVORITE RESTAURANT
MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS
“TOGETHERNESS” BEHAVIORS
DOING THINGS AS A COUPLE, JOINT ACTIVITIES,
CONTROL “EXTERNAL-TO-RELATIONSHIP” ACTIVITIES
COMMUNICATION BEHAVIORS
CALL JUST TO SAY, “HOW ARE YOU?”
LISTENING ACTIVELY, USING D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E. ABOUT SHARED
FEELINGS, ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RELATIONSHIP.
RESPOND CONSTRUCTIVELY IN A CONFLICT: FAIR FIGHTING
Four Effective Problem-Solving Skills
in a Long-Term Relationship
1.
Physiological soothing
Basic to all other skills
Calming self
2.
Softened start-up
Descriptive I-Messages
Open Acknowledgement
3.
Repair and De-escalation
Metacommunication
Accepting influence
4.
Compromise
Based on common ground
See Textbook
Communication in Everyday
Life
FAMILY
COMMUNICATION
Lecture 22a
WHY FAMILIES?
TO MEET ALL OF OUR NEEDS
SELF-ACTUALIZATION
SELF
ESTEEM
BELONGING
INCLUSION, FUN
SAFETY
SHELTER
PHYSICAL NEEDS
AIR, FOOD, SEX
FAMILY: DEFINITION
• Family: “networks of people who
share their lives over long periods of
time; who are bound by ties of
marriage, blood or commitment, legal
or otherwise; who consider themselves
as family; and who share future
expectations of connected relationship”
– AR
FUNCTIONS OF THE FAMILY
• Internal
• External
• Provide care
• Socialization
• Intellectual
development
• Emotional support
and development
• Recreation
• Transmission of
cultural values
• Adaptation to social
change
STRUCTURES OF THE
FAMILY
• POWER-AUTHORITY STRUCTURE
• POWER HELD BY ONE OR BOTH PARENTS
• CHILDREN DEVELOP OWN POWER
• CLEAR AUTHORITY LINE OR VARIABLE
• DECISION-MAKING STYLE
• FORCING/ACCOMMODATION/COMPROMISE
• COLLABORATION
• AD HOC
• INTERACTION STRUCTURE
• WHO TALKS TO WHOM ABOUT WHAT
Communication in Everyday Life
FAMILY
COMMUNICATION
Lecture 22b
FAMILIES AS “PEOPLEMAKING FACTORIES”
• FAMILY COMMUNICATION SHAPES
• SELF-CONCEPT AND SELF-ESTEEM
• COGNITIVE AND EMOTIONAL
DEVELOPMENT
• PARTICULARLY WHEN CHILD’S
BEHAVIOR DOESN’T FIT FAMILY
“RULES”
FAMILY COMMUNICATION
RULES
• Regulative rules – guides to action
• Obligatory: explicit: “you must” “you have to” or implicit
example setting
• Appropriate: not force of obligation but deemed “good
behavior”
• Constitutive rules – how certain communicative acts
are to be counted
• “Helping your brother means you care”
• “Snide remarks are a sign of disrespect”
HOW THE FAMILY COMMUNICATES
ITS VIEWS OF CHILD: REVIEW
• Direct definition
•
•
Labels (+ and -) and instruction
Not only defines self but self-worth (role names and character names)
• Identity scripts
• Who we are, how we are supposed to live, including T.A.’S
ok/not ok life positions
• Attachment styles
• Secure, fearful, dismissive, anxious
ATTACHMENTS STYLES
BASED ON FIRST BOND WITH PARENT
CAREGIVER:
CONSISTENTLY LOVING
AND ATTENTIVE
CAREGIVER:
UNINTERESTED,
REJECTING
CAREGIVER: INCONSISTENT SOMETIMES LOVING THEN
REJECTING
CAREGIVER:
CONSISTENTLY NEGATIVE,
REJECTING, ABUSIVE
PARENT TALK
•
THE MESSAGE
(CONTENT)
VERSUS THE
• METAMESSAGE
(RELATIONSHIP)
Video Example
PARENT TALK
•
THE MESSAGE
(CONTENT)
VERSUS THE
• METAMESSAGE
(RELATIONSHIP)
PARENTING STYLES
Hi
Child Centered, responsive, warm,
accepting, and child-centered, but nondemanding. They lack parental control.
Lo
Neither responsive nor demanding. They
do not support or encourage their child’s
self-regulation, and they often fail to
monitor or supervise the child’s behavior.
Their style is adult-centered and
uninvolved.
Lo
Child Centered, Hi parental involvement,
Active interest in child’s life, Rules and limits
clear but flexible. Negotiated structure and
control. Open communication, Acceptance,
Trust. Know where, with whom children are.
Demanding, but not responsive. Show
little trust toward their children, and their
way of engagement is strictly adultcentered. Often fear losing control, and
they discourage open communication.
Hi
Communication in Everyday Life
FAMILY
COMMUNICATION
Lecture 22c
PARENTING GOALS:
BE RIGHT OR DEVELOP CHILD’S
CHARACTER (EQ)?
LIGHT C.O.N.T.R.O.L. TALK:
VARIABLE EFFECTIVNESS
•
•
•
•
•
Teaching
Advising
Coaching
Placating
Lecturing
•
•
•
•
•
Judging
Derailing
Mind Reading
Moralizing
Ineffective praising
PARENTING GOALS:
BE RIGHT OR DEVELOP CHILD’S
CHARACTER (EQ)?
HEAVY C.O.N.T.R.O.L. TALK :
INEFFECTIVE
•
•
•
•
•
•
Ordering
Threatening
Pitying
Shaming
Interrogating
Denying
AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING
MEANS D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
• DESCRIPTION
•
•
Try to stay as close to the bottom of the inference ladder as possible
Description is about “what is” (as you perceive, understand it) not about
how it “should be”
• I-MESSAGES
•
Start with I – Acknowledge other, describe your perceptions, needs, wants
• ASKING QUESTIONS
•
The 4w2H questions – to seek info and create support not defense
ASKING QUESTIONS IN
D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
• DON’T JUDGE SUPPORT
• ASK
QUESTIONS(4W2H):
•
•
•
•
WHAT -WHERE
WHEN – WHO
HOW-HOW MUCH
MAKE “DIDYA?” “WHAT
DIDYA?”
• CREATE SAFE PLACE
FOR CHILD TO TALK
• CLIMATE OF TRUST
AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING
MEANS D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
• LISTENING ACTIVELY
• Only ask questions to clarify, not to give your opinion or tell your
story.
• Reflect back in your own words what other is thinking and
feeling,to show full understanding.
• Avoid telling them what they should be thinking/ feeling and avoid
giving advice unless asked.
AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING
MEANS D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.
•LISTENING ACTIVELY
•Only ask questions to clarify, not to give your opinion or tell your story.
•Reflect back in your own words what other is thinking and feeling,to
show full understanding.
•Avoid telling them what they should be thinking/ feeling and avoid
giving advice unless asked.
• OPEN ACKNOWLEDGMENT
•
I-message to show you understand from their point of view.
• GENUINE SUPPORT
•
I-message(s) to affirm, compliment, thank or explain how things could go better
WHEN CHILDREN “ACT UP”
• Parent try various methods with no success. :
– time-outs,
– reward systems,
– Scolding – “stop being a baby” and
– spanking
• Why no success?
• Rather than addressing their children’s feelings, they are
putting a “lid” on them
• They have failed to address the real fuel source of their
behavior – their emotions
• M. S. Kurcinka, Parents, Kids and Power Struggles
TWO KINDS OF PARENTAL
RESPONSES
• AUTHORITATIVE STYLE: INDUCTION
• SELF-DISCPLINE AND EMOTIONAL SELFMANAGEMENT
• TALK WITH CHILD
• HELP CHILDREN UNDERSTAND WHY THEY SHOULD FOLLOW
RULES AND MANAGE THEIR EMOTIONS
• THE CHILD LEARNS TO SELF-MANAGE
• AUTHORITARIAN STYLE: CONTROL
• EXTERNAL DISCIPLINE
• POWER ASSERTION -ACTIVE C.O.N.T.R.O.L
• LOVE WITHDRAWAL-PASSIVE C.O.N.T.R.O.L
• BOTH SHORT TERM FIXES
EFFECTIVE “DISCIPLINE”
FEEDBACK
FEEDBACK FOR INDUCTION
• Non-Judgmental
• Point of view: child is good, loved. Use descriptive language, adult
voice.
• Specific
• Focus on particular behaviour/situation
• Immediate
• Do it as close to occurrence as possible
• Ask Questions
• Get their views, understanding, feelings about what happened
EFFECTIVE “DISCIPLINE”
FEEDBACK
• Consistent
• Predictability, follow rules you’ve set, keep promises
• Disclose
• Describe your own feelings (“I-messages”) Vs. tell them their feelings
(“You –message”)
• Congruent
• Verbals and non-verbals match. Kids particularly vulnerable to
incongruency. Double-bind effect.
• Likely to create internal ethical standards – apply
without parent there
• Basis for Development of Emotional Intelligence
5
The Life Cycle of Relationships
Social scientific research has demonstrated that long-term relationships involve
definite stages of growth, maintenance and decline. One of the most widely recognized
models of these stages is that developed by Knapp and Vangelisti2. The model’s steps are
summarized under two general categories of “Coming Together” and “Coming Apart.”
Coming Together
The first five stages – “coming together” – describe the growth of interpersonal
relationships.
Initiating refers to the very first attempts we make at conversation with a new
person. We use the type of C.O.N.N.E.C.T. talk we called “ritual small talk.” Our
communication is generally cautious and conventional in these opening moments.
We just want to make contact and express interest.
Experimenting is the phase in which we try a variety of topics in order to learn
something about the other person. We ask a lot of questions and exchange a lot of
small talk (low level disclosure). “Where are you from?” “What kind of music do
you like?” We are looking for potential similarities and ways of building on some
common ground.
Intensifying indicates the deepening of self-disclosure and openness – “My parents
are divorced.” “I’m not a very good student” – and the beginnings of intimacy. This
stage is also indicated by changes in non-verbal behavior. For instance, as
acquaintances become intimate friends, their emotional closeness shows in their
physical closeness.
Integrating takes place when two people begin to consider themselves a couple
and demonstrate the investment of time, energy and emotional commitment
required for lasting relationships. Moreover, as they actively cultivate all the
interests, attitudes, and qualities that make them unique, others begin to treat them
as a distinct couple. As the two of them begin to value the same things, they
intensify some aspects of their personalities and minimize others.
Bonding is a more formal stage. It can occur as “going steady,” engagement or
marriage. In this stage a couple acquires social or institutional support for their
relationship. They agree to accept a set of socially recognized rules – norms –
including those about loyalty and faithfulness, for managing their relationship.
Bonding becomes a kind of contract and this becomes a frequent topic of
conversation.
6
Coming Apart
Relationships may stabilize at any of the building stages that precede the most
intimate stage, but even relationships reaching that phase can deteriorate. The next
five stages in Knapp and Vangelisti’s analysis describe the increasing deterioration
that can occur in relationships that have been at the bonding stage.
Differentiating occurs when two people decide that perhaps their relationship may
be too confining. They begin to focus on their differences rather than their
similarities. They begin to emphasize their individuality and the need to have a
little breathing room. In this stage there is an increase in the number of fights.
Circumscribing refers to a stage in which couples limit the frequency and intimacy
of their communication around “hot topics” (like money and sex) since they only
produce more fights. They begin to talk as if they don’t know each other very well:
“Is it okay with you if I …” “I don’t care. Do whatever…”
Stagnating reflects a declining relationship that people are trying to hold together,
for reasons such as finances, religion or the children involved. Communication
becomes more and more like that between strangers and the relationship itself is no
longer discussed.
Avoiding is a closely related coping tactic for minimizing the pain of a totally
collapsed relationship. In this stage people often separate physically, but we all
know couples that lead separate lives in the same house. If participants must remain
physically close, they manage to keep contact to a minimum.
Terminating is the final stage in any relationship. Messages of distance and
dissociation are often exchanged at this time, and usually these summarize and
clarify what is happening between the two people – for example, “I’m leaving you
… and don’t bother trying to contact me.”
Although these ten stages seem to deal primarily with male-female relationships,
many of the concepts and principles apply to same-sex relationships as well.
Additional Reading
In reading fifteen, Conflict and Problem Solving in Relationships, Kehoe
provides detailed notes analyzing conflict in long-term relationships and
recommendations for its management from A. Taylor and J. Miller (Conflict and
Gender) and from J. Gottman (What Predicts Divorce? and The Marriage
Clinic).
7
Talk and Relationship Stabilization
Not surprisingly, the life cycle model of relationships reflects an emphasis on various
levels of C.O.N.N.E.C.T. talk in the “Coming Together” mode, but this seems to understate
the struggles that underlie the search for the similarity and common ground that connection
requires.
We have all endured misunderstandings and difficult communication moments as
well as “lover’s quarrels” on the way to establishing a lasting relationship with another.
Almost inevitably the quarrels are about something fairly trivial, but the hidden forces behind
these incidents reflect a struggle to find agreement on where each person in a relationship is
comfortable along three critical dimensions:
Autonomy vs. Connection: This focuses on the independence of action and closeness
in physical space the couple finds comfortable. A successful relationship tries to
strike a balance between individuality and the merging of one’s self with the other
Novelty vs. Predictability: The focus here is on striking a balance in everyday
interaction between routine and new experiences. Without some level of
predictability, no relationship could last, but with too much predictability, boredom
sets in.
Openness vs. Closedness: This reflects efforts to strike a balance between the degree
of disclosure of everyday thoughts and the need for personal privacy and selfprotection in a lasting relationship.
Thus the development of a lasting relationship certainly emphasizes C.O.N.N.E.C.T. talk but
must also involve problem-solving talk (C.O.N.T.R.O.L. or D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E.) and a good
deal of conflict management as the couple grows closer.
In fact, the type of talk we use with each other, as well as the style of conflict
management we typically use, can build the foundation for bonding but also set the scene for
decline in the future. In early conflicts on the way to permanence, a couple may use a fair
amount of accommodation or avoidance to resolve issues. They are driven by their attraction
and bonding emotions and may see the cost of this kind of peace as lower than the cost of
losing the relationship. The difficulty is that these forms of conflict management and the
styles of talk involved may not reflect how each of the participants “really” feels about
themselves. Knapp and Vangelisti note that during the integrating stage of their model: “We
are intensifying and minimizing various aspects of our total person.” The interesting question
is how much of our real self is present at the altar (or any other publicly recognized form of
bonding ritual) when we formally declare our relationship to be a lasting one, and how much
will appear as we try to maintain the relationship over time.
8
Maintaining a Lasting Relationship
Gottman’s detailed study of the maintenance and dissolution of marriages highlights
these points. Each person brings to the relationship what Gottman and his colleagues called
“uninfluenced” stable steady states of positivity or negativity (measured when they were not
being influenced by their spouses) that result from their temperaments, personal histories, and
pervious relationship experiences. These states contribute to how they will manage the
conflict that is a natural part of everyday living together. His data demonstrated that for
relationships to work well, theses stable states must reflect a large balance of positivity versus
negativity in both parties’ perceptions and in their ways of talking. For instance, he found that
the ratio of positive to negative behavior (words and acts) during conflict resolution is at least
5:1 in stable, happy marriages and is about 1:1 or less in marriages that later dissolved.
In his observations of newlywed couples, for example, Gottman found that the
appearance of positive behaviors (e.g., humor, smiling, assent, laughter, engaged listening,
positive physical contact, and agreement) occurred more often in some couples than in others.
During observed conflict moments, couples that ended up happy produced about 30 seconds
more of positive affect than negative compared to those that eventually dissolved. This seems
like quite a small difference until Gottman reminds us that these are recurrent patterns and
that 30 seconds amounts to about 100 words and, when multiplied by 365 days in a year, adds
up to about the length of a book of poetry.
Over time, words and the emotions they represent (the emotional bidding process
discussed for C.O.N.N.E.C.T. talk) do matter. Gottman3 states: “… in marriages that work
(wind up stable and happy) – and only in these marriages – positive affect was used with great
precision in the service of de-escalating marital conflict … The de-escalation was also related
to physiological soothing, usually self-soothing (see Chapter 8), but occasionally the wife
soothing her husband with humor.”
“Coming Apart”
Gottman’s work also clarifies the underlying behavior cycle that tips a couple over
from “Maintenance” to “Coming Apart.” Repeated use of angry criticism by one person
(“You are …” “You made me …”) in dealing with the 3D’s leads to defensiveness in the
other which, in turn, generates the emotion of contempt in the first (contempt being a
combination of anger and disgust – as per Plutchik). Contempt is one of the most corrosive
and damaging emotions we can communicate. In dysfunctional couples, the receivers of
contempt have higher rates of reported physical illness than their partner. The standard
defense against this kind of communication is called “stonewalling.” The receiver of
contempt simply stops talking. Over time this can lead to emotional disengagement from the
relationship.
Gottman observed this type of communication pattern recurring so often in the early
“Coming Apart” stages of a couple’s decline that he gave it a distinct name. He called the
cycle of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, “The Four Horsemen of the
9
Apocalypse.” In general, couples enter this cycle unwittingly (they bring their “stable steady
states” to the table) and, if they stay in the cycle, they virtually guarantee relationship
disintegration. Gottman argues that all couples can engage the first three Horsemen
unthinkingly, and they do, but his observations are that many of them can also repair their
relationship before they reach the stonewalling stage. They can be taught how to do this by
being reminded of the following ideas.
Repairing the Relationship
He reminds struggling couples of the importance of the 5:1 ratio of positive to
negative talk as a binding mechanism in a lasting relationship. As we respond positively to
the other’s emotional bids, we are creating credit in their emotional bank account that we can
call on when things get difficult.
Then he shows them how to fight more effectively, because everybody fights. Most
relevant to our model is that he asks each person to use “softer startups” when they raise
issues. Essentially he asks them to move from using the direct criticism (C.) of active
C.O.N.T.R.O.L. (“You are …” “You made me …”) to the more indirect complaint of passive
C.O.N.T.R.O.L. (“I don’t like what you did …”) and, in its extended form, the “I-message”
formula we talked about for D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E. This softer approach to raising issues reduces
the level of defensiveness that may occur in the other and gives them the space to respond
with description rather than defensive judgment.
Gottman also describes the “repair attempts” made by successful couples and how
to notice them when they occur in the midst of conflict. Repair attempts include metacommunication; attempts to soothe one another; acknowledgement of the other’s concerns;
and expressions of appreciation as a way of softening complaints. Just as importantly, he
shows couples how they automatically express contempt and defensiveness – tone of voice,
eye rolling, whining, sarcasm – and tells them they must control these expressions if they
intend to improve their communication.
Finally, one of the key things Gottman teaches is that all relationships have
“perpetual issues” – never-to-be-resolved differences between people – that often reflect
their differences along the three critical dimensions listed above. A lasting relationship
requires that couples use D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E. when dealing with these issues rather than the
C.O.N.T.R.O.L. talk that leads to the emotional gridlock of the Four Horsemen. The idea is to
Openly acknowledge what is going on; Describe its effects in I-messages; Ask how the other
sees it and Listen actively to what they say; and then collaborate – or at least find a
compromise – on ways of dealing with these difference so that they don’t irritate or anger
each of the parties so much.
These issues represent unchangeable parts of our selves and they will come up again
in the relationship. The idea is to keep talking about them openly. Even though they’ll never
10
go away, they can be made less difficult so that, on balance, the relationship created is a
positive for both participants.
Gottman’s realistic advice represents a deeper level of commitment to maintaining a
lasting relationship than may have been present when the couple got together in the first
place. In the “Coming Together” stages, we are often seduced and deluded by the biochemistry of attraction into making commitments without realizing the long-term
implications for the work required to keep a relationship going. In more poetic terms, when
we commit to doing the D.I.A.L.O.G.U.E. of relationship maintenance, we grow up and shift
our focus from romantic love (which is all about me) to “true” love, which is about the other
and the “us” that we’ve created through our commitments.
 
1
The following sections draw upon concepts outlined in Tubbs, S. & Moss, S. (1994), Human
Communication, (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill, Inc., Chapter 6; Wood, J., (2004), Everyday
Encounters, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., Chaps. 7 and 8; Knapp, M. & Vangelisti, A.
(2005), Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships, (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA:
Allyn & Bacon, Chapter 2.
2
Knapp, M., & Vangelisti, A. (2005) Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships (5th
ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
3
Gottman, J. (1999) The Marriage Clinic. Chicago: Norton Publishing.
1
Excerpted from:
Kehoe, D. (2012) Communication In Everyday Life, 4th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
Chapter 13.
RELATIONSHIPS AND TALK
No human being is born outside of connection to another human. Before we are born,
we experience a complete and intimate interlocking relationship with another human body.
During the development process in the womb, we live out the only period in life when we are
fully and completely integrated with another human being without words, when we are biochemically at one with another. And then, of course, there’s the trauma of birth – the process
during which the most unified, fully committed, highly integrated system of life that we have
ever been a part of literally gets cut off. We spend the rest of our life reconnecting with
people using the only tool we have – our ability to communicate. We build relationships to
connect, to be stimulated, to be alive, and to maintain our well-being in a way that maximizes
our pleasure and minimizes our pain. To do all this, we need other human beings in our life
on a regular basis, whether as family, friends, or romantic long-term relationships.
Relationships and Proximity1
We start our life by sharing space with people who we come to feel are similar to us.
Similarity becomes the basis for our attraction to others. It is a search for similarity that
drives our relationship building throughout life and we find it in the following ways.
Repetition and Familiarity
We begin life by interacting with the same people over and over again. We share the
same space, speak the same language, enact the same general behavior and, in the process,
become similar to them in our attitudes toward the world. In our family, we learn to like
people who are like us and we learn to seek similarity in others as we re-enact this process of
sharing space and repetitive interaction with playmates, friends, schoolmates, lover, and
work colleagues. We want to be near people we think are like us. It connects us to our need
for belonging and certainty. This doesn’t mean we never disagree with people who are like
us; it just means that we agree to disagree about specific things while feeling that we like
them better than people we don’t know and who are not like us because they are from outside
of our social environment, i.e., our neighborhood, class, ethnicity, religion, and personal
value system.
2
Reciprocity
By repeatedly interacting with people who are nearby and who seem to be like us, we
also trigger the reciprocity principle: the more we like them, the more they seem to like us.
People who are like us and that we like are probably going to like us back. This increases our
self-worth. Our good feeling encourages us to act positively toward them, which in turn
encourages their better behavior toward us. This reciprocal influence tends to increase liking.
Complementarity
Although similarity – strengthened by closeness and repetition – is the primary force
that draws people together, we don’t necessarily continue our efforts to connect with
everyone who is similar to us, nor does everyone reciprocate our emotional bids. In our
search for relationship, we realize that within any group of similar people, some individuals
connect to us more easily than others. At work is a second general principle of attraction.
Complementarity
Particular people connect to us on the basis of some areas of difference at the level of
our personality and its behavioral manifestations. For instance, we may be drawn to a
particular individual because their more submissive behavior fits our need to be dominant; or
our need for protection supports their need to provide it; or our need to talk is greater than
theirs. These complementary differences attract us to particular individuals within a general
category of people who are similar to us.
Additional Reading
In reading fourteen, Interpersonal Attraction (excerpts from Social
Psychology Chapter 9) Aronson and his colleagues review the research on
what attracts people to each other for both friendship and long-term romantic
relationships.
Lasting Relationships: Some Defining Characteristics
Investment
So what goes into making a satisfying, lasting relationship? The fundamental feature
of satisfying relationships is a sense of investment. That is, we need to put something into the
relationship that we couldn’t get back if the relationship stopped existing. We are investing
3
our time and energy in creating something that will not be available to us again. We begin to
build a mutual history out of pieces of our self that, if the relationship ends, are irretrievable.
Commitment
Along with this investment comes commitment to another that lasts over time and
has a sense of a common future. Since each person begins to believe in a common future, they
develop the intention to work through their conflicts. In other words, a discussion that starts
with “Put your socks in the hamper” doesn’t end the relationship. To build a satisfying, longterm relationship, there must be the belief that, “We will find ways of solving the problem.
We will get through this. There will be a tomorrow.” Why? Because we have invested so
much of ourselves in this relationship already, we don’t want to give up on it.
Trust
There must also be a sense of trust in a long-term relationship – a sense of reliability
on both our parts. We need to keep our promises and do what we say we will do. This
demands honesty from both parties and, to sustain that, we need to speak openly about what
we’re feeling. In fact, when we communicate trust and honesty, we are seen as high-integrity
people. In a satisfying relationship, people give of themselves over time; have a commitment
to the future even if the present is not going that well; and are expected to have integrity, that
is, to keep their promises and speak honestly. When we perceive the other’s integrity, we trust
them to take care of us, protect us, and help us through the difficult times.
Self-disclosure
We create a satisfying relationship by showing pieces of ourselves to each other.
Trust and investment and commitment emerge from acts of self-disclosure. As the
relationship grows, each party gradually begins to reveal things to the other that only they
know. That is, they begin to expand box number one of the Johari Window (Reading Number
Eight).
Disclosure begins with simple ritual exchanges of fact like, “My grandparents were
born in Scotland and they moved here in 1939 … I grew up in the suburbs … my favorite
singer is …” These simple disclosures give the other person information to start discovering
their similarities to us. They also encourage more information to flow from the “unknown to
the other” box of the Johari Window to the “known to both parties” box. As our exchange
increases, a relationship develops and we begin to tell each other things that are not so easy to
tell but more important for both parties to know. This level of exchange is intended to see if
the other will stay committed as we gradually reveal our deeper and darker secrets.
There seems to come a moment in human relationships when the need to continue to
disclose does not appear to be as important. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t continue, since an
unexpected or unpleasant disclosure can destroy a fragile relationship, but it seems that few
people continue to disclose throughout the length of the relationship. The rate of disclosure
4
tends to rise in the first couple of years and then levels out. There always remain things that
each of us knows about ourselves that we will never reveal to the other. We use selfdisclosure to start a relationship but we don’t use it to maintain a relationship.
Friendship and Romantic Relationships
Although both friendship and lasting romantic relationships share the same defining
characteristics – investment, commitment, and trust based on disclosure – we expect them to
operate at different levels.
A friend is someone who demonstrates trust and support, tries to make us happy,
stands up for us when we’re not around, helps us when we’re down, shares information about
their successes and, in turn, expects the same level of commitment and trust from us.
Lasting romantic relationships are differentiated from friendships by the feeling that
this is the only person in the world for us. This feeling is induced by the unique chemical
cocktail of attraction brewed in the limbic system of the brain (a combination of the
excitement hormone dopamine and the “bonding” hormone oxytosin). This “magic factor”
(distinctive and intense feelings of intimacy, passion) makes us feel that we are “one” with
the other and requires deeper levels of commitment of time and energy than we would expect
in a friendship:
Equality of investment: We feel that people in romantic relationships should give
equally to the relationship and be rewarded in the relationship in an amount equal to
what they give.
Shared time and identity: In a world where there are lots of competing demands on
our time, we are expected, in a romantic relationship, to spend as much time as
possible with one person. On the other side of the coin, to make a romance last we
must consciously acknowledge one another’s individual identity and life beyond the
relationship.
Openness and authenticity: As with a friend, we expect our beloved to be open with
us and not to lie to us. A lasting romantic relationship also requires authenticity. We
have to be real. It’s not just about telling the other our thoughts but about being
present with the other – as if they are a part of us – in a way that we might not be
with a friend.
Loyalty and faithfulness: Romantic commitment adds considerable weight to the
continuity aspect of a relationship. Where the investment, commitment, and trust
aspects are vital to a friendship, loyalty and faithfulness are added to the list for
romantic relationships because we have obligated ourselves only to each other. We
may feel that a friendship with somebody else can accommodate lots of other
friendship relationships, while a romantic relationship cannot.

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