Romantic Relationships It is said that love is the most profound emotion known to human beings. Every day people fall in love, commit into relationships and fall out of them. Romantic relationships are one of the most unique types of interpersonal relationships, they’re different from any other. Love can be the most amazing feeling, but it can also being the most heart break. Learning how to manage a romantic relationship is key if you plan to maintain a healthy one. Interpersonal communication on this level differs from communication with a friend or acquaintance.
It takes more time and patience. However, if you put the work in, you can reap the most rewarding benefits. Like anything, there are stages to developing a relationship. The first stage is the initiating stage. This is where two people first meet and exchange first impressions. This is an important stage because this is where the two decide if they wish to further their communication. This is generally where the most shallow interaction occurs. They say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but let’s be honest, physical attractiveness when first meeting someone is key.
The next stage is called the experimenting stage. In this stage partners look for similarities. They seek common ground on which to build a relationship. Partners can reveal parts of their personalities in this stage which is important. The communication in this stage is generally relaxed, uncritical and noncommittal. The next stage is called the intensifying stage. This is where partners make initial move to greater their involvement. The use of nicknames or endearing gestures become apparent. Pronouns like we or us begin to be used. Self-disclosure also increases.
The next stage is called the integrating stage. In this stage, the individuals become a couple publicly. The couples social circles merge and attitudes and interests are shared. The integrating stage allows couples to become fully indulged in one another, they almost become a part of the other person. There are various obstacles the couple endures to test each others commitment. The final stage to building a relationship is the bonding stage. This is the stage where a public ritual will legitimize the relationship. This mean some sort of commitment ceremony like marriage would occur.
In every relationship, relational maintenance is key. Maintenance involves certain strategies that keep two individuals relationship at a desired level. There are several different types of strategies and what might work for one couple may not necessarily work for another. The five most identified include positivity, openness, assurance, networks, and task sharing. Using positivity includes being patient and optimistic with each other. It also is important to refrain from criticizing one another and build up each others self esteems. Openness involves opening up to one another.
This means having good communication and discussing feelings and what each person needs. Assurance is all about indicating each others commitment to one another and demonstrating their faithfulness. The couple must talk in ways that show they believe the relationship has a future. Networks is referring to spending time with each other’s families and mutual friends. Finally, task sharing refers to taking a joint partnership. This means both individuals taking responsibility for the relationship and helping equally with tasks that need to be done. There are essentially 5 elements to a healthy relationship.
These elements include good communication, respect, reciprocity, realistic expectations, and intimacy. Good communication is all about being able to discuss everything openly in the relationship. Each individual should feel comfortable to discuss any kind of feelings or issues. Each person should take the time to listen and not react rashly to their partners thoughts. Respect refers to the way the couple speaks to each other and how they speak about each other to outsiders. It is key to speak to your partner in a respectful manner and never bad mouth them behind their back.
Reciprocity is about the give and take of a relationship. Individuals must learn to compromise and sometimes back down to keep the relationship healthy. Realistic expectations is very important in maintaining a healthy relationship. Each individual must come to terms with the fact that no person is perfect. People make mistakes and couples need to be able to forgive one another. Also discussing each others expectations at the start is important so your partner isn’t blindsided if a fight occurs when not meeting your expectations. The final element, intimacy, is not just about sex.
Intimacy is about feeling comfortable and safe with your partner. In any relationship, conflict is bound to occur. Conflict is practically unavoidable, because at some point a couple will run into some kind of incompatible goal. However, there are ways to handle conflict and each persons attitude will dictate how the conflict is handled. Some people choose to withdraw. As soon as conflict arises, one person decides to just walk away from it or change the subject. In some cases, withdrawing may be appropriate. However, many times this just postpones the issue and make it worse. Some chose to use a strategy called forcing.
This is when one person only has their own interests in mind. They set aside their partners feeling and do what they feel will benefit themselves the most. This is never good in a romantic relationship because too much domination will destroy the equality of the relationship. Another strategy is accommodating. This is when one partner gives in immediately to fight. If the conflict is unimportant then there is no problem with accommodating. However of the conflict is bigger, constant accommodation can lead to unstated resentment. Compromising seems like a great way to solve conflict, however, that’s not always the case.
When compromising, each person gives up part of what he or she wants. This can lead to a lack of satisfaction. Problem solving is the best way to solve conflict. This strategy involves brainstorming and coming up with a new creative solution for equal satisfaction. The drawback of this tactic is that it takes time and skill. Many times people would rather chose an easy way out. Just like there are stages to build a relationship, there are also stages to terminating a relationship. The first stage is called the differentiating stage. In this stage, the couple begins to look at previously overlooked discrepancies.
Couples begin using terms like “you” and “me” rather than “us” or “we. ” The next stage is called the circumscribing stage. In this stage couples begin to restrict communication. The begin putting certain topics off limits because they seem painful to discuss. Expressions of commitment are also decreased. The next stage is called the stagnating stage. This stage is where silence and inactivity occurs. Communication is scarce and the communication that does occur is awkward and rigid. The next stage is called the avoiding stage. This is where partners separate physically or emotionally. They avoid each other at all costs.
If physical separation is impossible, a couple will separate psychologically. They will pretend as though the other doesn’t exist. The last and final stage is the terminating stage. This is where both parties come to term with the ending of their relationship. If the relationship had been failing, this may come as a relief. Other times it isn’t so easy, and can be heart wrenching. The outcome of the break up comes from the type of relationship a couple had. Levels of attachment can have serious effects on whether it is a clean or messy break up. It also can determine whether the couple will try again.
When two people come together in this kind of commitment, it can be the most beautiful bond. Love is a powerful thing. When treated well, a romantic relationship can be the most exhilarating experience. Your relationship is only as good as you treat it. It requires care and patience, and beyond that, good communication. However, once you master these skills, you can expect a happy, strong and successful relationship. Citations Trenholm, Sarah. (2008) Interpersonal Communication. Thinking Through Communication: An Introduction to the Study of Human Communication. Edition 6 pp. 132-163 Madey, Scott F. ; Jilek, Lori. 2012) Attachment Style and Dissolution of Romantic Relationships: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Or Is It? Individual Differences Research, Vol. 10 No. 4 pp. 202-210 “5 Elements Of A Healthy Romantic Relationship. ” Mademan RSS. N. p. , n. d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. . Vangelisti, L. Anita. (2012) Interpersonal Processes in Romantic Relationships The SAGE handbook of interpersonal communication chapter 18 Butzer, Bethany; Kupier, Nicholas A. (2008). Humor Use in Romantic Relationships: The Effects of Relationship Satisfaction and Pleasant Versus Conflict Situations. The Journal of Psychology, 142(3), 245–260.