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Romantic relationships affect the levels of security that people generally experience with close others. Experiences with a partner carry immediate outcomes (e.g., feeling appreciated vs. ignored), but they also can have longer lasting effects when they cause people to reflect on their overall worthiness and comfort with closeness/trust toward others. Our chapter examines how such experiences shape the mental representations that underlie chronic tendencies with attachment security, and how these representations may change with new experiences in romantic involvements. We examine change through the lens of the Attachment Security Enhancement Model, which suggests that enhancing security in relationships involves both mitigating momentary insecurity and fostering more secure mental representations over the longer term. Whether partners are effective at enhancing security may depend on the strategies they enact, and optimal strategies depend on whether a person is experiencing momentary anxiety versus avoidance. Over time, partner strategies in new situations – especially those that depart from past insecure experiences (e.g., painful interactions in close relationships) – can lead to revisions of insecure mental representations (e.g., beliefs about the self, expectations of close others). Together, using strategies to manage insecure moments and create opportunities to revise insecure mental representations may enhance security across time.
Interdependence theory is a powerful and applicable theory that has shaped the study of interpersonal relationships for decades, providing foundational constructs and elucidating key assumptions within the burgeoning field of relationship science. Research guided by interdependence theory sheds light on the diverse phenomena within ongoing relationships, including the emergence of co-operation, trust, dependence, power, and relationship maintenance. At its core, interdependence theory pinpoints key elements of daily interactions that predict specific experiences and outcomes that people have in different situations. This handbook goes further to explain how interdependence theory continues to be used fruitfully in research, driving our current understanding of relational processes. We invite you to enter the world of interdependence and discover what top scholars across disciplines are discussing in their efforts to fully understand close, intimate relationships.
In this chapter, we discuss how new communication technologies are reshaping interpersonal relationship formation, maintenance, and dissolution. Through this evaluation, we extend existing research on the socio-technical affordances of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and relational processes by (1) synthesizing the current state of mediated personal relationships research across these three relational stages and (2) describing how each relational state is influenced by the affordances of new communication technologies. An affordances framework is especially useful for evaluating and understanding complex relationships and interactions on social media platforms because it captures the plastic nature of communication tools and the user practices that accompany them, providing a more holistic understanding of the interactions between users and the tools and how these relationships evolve over time. We argue that using an affordances framework to evaluate interpersonal relationship processes highlights how social and technological attributes shape interaction patterns while acknowledging individuals’ agency in deciding how they use communication tools. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research in this area and describes some of the unique methodological, theoretical, and practical challenges of studying mediated interpersonal relationships.
Sometimes married life is blissful – intimacy and companionship are easy, feelings of trust and commitment are strong, partners treat one another with love and consideration, and the marriage seems indestructible. Unfortunately, many couples encounter periods when life is not so easy – times when intimacy and companionship are hard work at best, good times are a distant memory, trust and commitment are sorely strained, and the marriage verges on collapse. Much of married life unfolds in a middle ground between these extremes, in a state where good times are punctuated by dissatisfying incidents of greater or lesser intensity. The manner in which couples negotiate this intermediate state appears to be crucial to maintaining a long-term, enduring marriage. This chapter deals with one important feature of the “middle ground” of marriage by analyzing an interaction phenomenon termed accommodation. Interaction sequences involving accommodative behavior are initiated when one partner engages in a potentially destructive act, such as behaving in a thoughtless manner, saying hurtful things, yelling at the partner, or worse. Accommodation refers to an individual's willingness, when the partner has enacted a potentially destructive behavior, to (a) inhibit impulses to react destructively in turn and (b) instead behave in a constructive manner.
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