COM310_ Chapter 5

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COM 310
Laura Guerrero

Changing Relationships-Stages, Turning Points, and Dialectics Relationship Stages ◦ Stage models depict relationship development and disengagement as largely linear processes ◦ Graph looks like a staircase for coming together/apart “Coming Together” Stage 1: Initiating ◦ Say something to start a conversation ◦ Keep it on a level that's safe and makes us look good ◦ Focuses on initial encounters, greeting rituals, and opening lines ◦ Disclosure is low in breadth, depth, frequency, and duration ◦ Breadth is the number of topics to discuss ◦ Disclosure is positively valenced as people try to be socially polite and make good impressions ◦ We are not going to bring up anything that is embarrassing Exception: Stranger on the Plane/Train • People find out what you do for a living and won't stop talking about their life style • Opinions • Consequences Coming Together Stage 2: Experimenting ◦ Text messaging is making small talk smaller ◦ Move out of small and into the next stage ◦ Focuses on small talk (breadth over depth with positive valence) ◦ Establishing similarities and differences ◦ Determining whether to pursue a closer relationship ◦ Most relationships (casual friends, acquaintenances) do not move beyond this stage ◦ Expectations ◦ It's important to meet face to face with a person after two weeks of messaging each other and to get to know the person. ◦ People might be more different than you think. Coming Together Stage 3: Intensifying ◦ Movement from a casual relationship to a closer more committed relationship ◦ In particular, communication is marked by: ‣ increased contact ‣ more in-depth disclosure - Talk about bigger things ‣ more relationship negotiation (discussing feelings and the state of the relationship) ‣ more social support • Main thing in friend relationships ‣ using future tense and “we” instead of “I Coming Together Stage 4: Integrating ◦ “Coupling” occurs– both within and outside the dyad—so that the dyad has a relational identity ‣ Put labels on the relationship ◦ Social networks, attitudes, and preferences often merge ◦ Can sometimes finish each other’s sentences ‣ Acting as a unit; agreeing with each other ◦ More freedom to disclose negative information ◦ High levels of depth and breadth, although complete disclosure is rare and not always beneficial Coming Together Stage 5: Bonding ◦ Public commitment via social rituals such as marriage ◦ Relationship often becomes “institutionalized” ‣ Everyone recognizes it ◦ Significant barriers to breakup are erected, such as merged social networks and shared possessions. ‣ If you bonded or married, you have in laws. Coming Apart Stage 1: Differentiating Function: to maintain individual identity and autonomy ◦ Can be healthy or bad; smothering (opposite of integrating in many ways) ◦ Doing things separately. ◦ Stating differences of opinion. ◦ Pursuing individual goals Coming Apart Stage 2: Circumscribing Function: to avoid in-depth disclosure (similar to experimenting in some ways ◦ Small talk and “checking in” statements are common ◦ Avoid any communication that could cause conflict ◦ Circling around certain issues Coming Apart Stage 3: Stagnating Function: to achieve psychological separation ◦ Communication is at a standstill ‣ Nothing is changing ◦ The relationship seems caught in a rut ‣ None of the issues has been resolved ◦ Sometimes partners feel like they are “walking on eggshells” around one another ◦ Number one reason people break up: boredom Coming Apart Stage 4: Avoiding Function: to achieve physical separation (sometimes as a testing ground) ◦ Ignore or stop talking to the partner ◦ Move out of proximity of the partner ◦ Spend more time with other people Coming Apart Stage 5: Terminating Function: to break up while minimizing
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