Investment situations are extended situations in which each person, at each of a series of preliminary steps, must make an “investment” in order to move toward a desirable goal. For example, in seeking to establish a successful business, the owners proceed through a series of preliminary steps at which they invest time and effort in order to reach their goal. They work evenings and weekends, forgo short-term financial profits, and reinvest early earnings in development activities, including employee training and construction projects. In the situations considered here, those of mutual investment, both owners must engage in these activities. If either loses heart and backs out of the venture, their investments are lost and the company fails. If both persist and jointly work their way through the early steps, making suitable choices and effective investments of time, effort, and resources, they may achieve a desirable goal – a company that will earn substantial profits.
In like manner, the partners in an emerging romantic relationship must work together, making their way through preliminary steps at which they invest a variety of resources in their involvement. They disclose private thoughts and feelings to each other, purchase joint possessions, develop a shared friendship network, spend time becoming acquainted with one another's family members, and exert effort to resolve conflicts involving incompatible preferences. If both partners successfully surmount the preliminary hurdles of their involvement, they may achieve a desirable goal – a committed, trusting relationship in which each partner gratifies the other's needs.