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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2019

16 - Relationship Maintenance in the Age of Technology

from Part IV - The Social Context of Relationship Maintenance


This chapter examines how computers and smartphones are used with (or instead of) face-to-face (F2F) interactions for relationship maintenance. After explicating two different definitions of the phrase “relationship maintenance,” we summarize research on the role of particular communication technologies in relationship maintenance. We argue that much contemporary relationship maintenance in romantic relationships occurs in mixed-media relationships, which occur when the “parties conduct in whole or in part through the use of multiple media, including F2F” (Parks). The primary focus of this chapter is on the maintenance of romantic relationships, yet we also review research on other types of relationships when the processes examined seem applicable to close relationships more broadly. We conclude with several important points for future research on relational maintenance and communication technologies, including recognizing that (a) even though technologies can help people maintain their relationships, they also can create burdens and problems; (b) the way people use technologies influences the effects of those technologies in relationships; (c) there is a need for more research on the specific behaviors using technologies in romantic relationships; and (d) even with the rise of communication technologies, face-to-face maintenance behaviors remain important.