Close Relationships

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Why is that so many humans find themselves tuning into the royal wedding, admiring old couples who are still in love, and dreaming about the day they find that person to be with for the rest of their lives? According to Baumeister and Bushman (2017), “good relationships are good for you. Married people (especially happily married people) live longer, healthier lives than single or divorced people.”(p. 389). Close relationships is an ideal for most individuals around the world and Social Psychology informs us how to make this goal of having healthy, lasting, and loving relationships, possible.

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In this chapter we are presented with research on close relationships between heterosexual and homosexual couples. The research informs us why some relationships last while others end quickly, why some turn into marriage and others do not, and why some marriages last a lifetime and others end in divorce. This chapter highlights the stages in romantic relationships, beginning with the factors that influence and define love, different types of relationships, how a relationship is maintained, and sexuality.

Researching close relationships is important to Social Psychology because it allows for people to understand that there are stages in relationships and ways to make them succeed. By using the data from lasting relationships as well as ones that fall apart, we are able to better understand what attributes cause these outcomes. Social psychologists are interested in all aspects of relationships and the ways that psychology can improve those interactions. Their research can help us to understand how people form close relationships and when these relationships can be harmful. For example, people who are in abusive relationships. Research can provide insight in ways to recognize the signs of a person who may become abusive and work to change people with abusive urges. Also, research is always moving on with the time period.

Homosexuality is a huge topic in the world today and new studies are being publicized. Social Psychologists have done research on homosexual relationships and it has given the world some insight on their situations. People can understand more about how they feel, and see both the similarities and differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Social Psychology is giving the world knowledge that is useful for their own relationships but also understanding relationship dynamics around us.

Through this chapter I was able to understand the dynamic of my parent’s relationship with a new perspective. My parents were never married but together for over ten years. They had four kids together, but separated when I was three years old. The first section of the chapter, covers the definition and factors that influence love. Sternberg’s Triangle Theory suggests that the combination of passion, intimacy, and commitment makes for a loving and lasting relationship. He believes each ingredient happens at different times and that if none are present, there is no love. Passion usually comes first and is the quickest stage. Passionate love is often called the “honeymoon phase,” or the point in a relationship where your feelings are based on attraction, excitement, and longing for one another. Intimacy often develops over time because it is getting to know your partner and feeling like you understand one another. Lastly, commitment is more of a feeling of dedication and responsibility for another person. (Baumeister and Bushman, 2017).

My parents always say that they love each other and I never understood what they meant. They do not live together, they both have other partners, and do not spend much time together. However, it is evident that although the passion is gone between them, there still remains a sense of intimacy and commitment. Baumeister and Bushman (2017) define intimacy as, “ a sense of understanding the partner and being understood by him or her. Intimacy also entails a mutual concern for each other’s welfare and happiness.” (p.358). Through all the years my parents were together, and even the years they spend apart, they got to know each other on a deep level. They still want the best for each other and even though their romantic relationship did not last, their friendship has. As for commitment, my parents had four kids together and will forever be in each others lives. “Sternberg observed that when many people speak of love, they refer more to a conscious decision than to a feeling state. Emotions come and go, but commitments based on decisions remain constant unless they are deliberately revoked” (Baumeister & Bushman, 2017). Through their commitment to us kids, my parents in ways have made a commitment to each other to be there for us and each other whenever necessary. Although my parents no longer have a romantic relationship and lack passion, they still share intimacy and commitment, which under Sternberg’s Theory, does conclude that they do love each other.

In the future, I hope to one day get married. To reach this goal I would have to learn what it takes to maintain a relationship. In an article relating to ways of giving benefits in a marriage, Margaret Clark (2010) writes, “ each person attends to the partner’s welfare and acts in ways that promote that person’s welfare. Each person seeks support from the other as needed. Attention to one’s own and one’s partner’s needs and opportunities for mutually enjoyable activities moves flexibly according to cues of each person’s needs and desires. People do not keep records of who has done what.” (p.1). Communal relationships are about helping one another in every aspect of life, whether it is financially, emotionally, or physically. This kind of relationship creates a sense of security, because you know your partner is helping and supporting you because they want to, rather than because they are getting something in exchange. In my marriage I want a communal relationship because it is more genuine and caring. I believe an exchange relationship lacks unity and is less of doing something nice for the sake of doing it, and more you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours mentality.

Being married or in a long relationship is difficult and requires work. Studies have shown that love and relationship satisfaction decline over time. In the textbook Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman talk about how most relationships over time stay the same or get worse. If you want your relationship to work you have to avoid the downward spiral, because it hard to stop it when it starts. I believe that it is important to know ways in which you can make your relationship succeed, especially if you feel like it may be losing its spark. In the book The New Psychology of Love, Robert and Karin Sternberg (2008) mention that, “ once relationship partners can no longer gain substantial expansion from the initial development of the relationship, that can renew that sense to some extent by engaging in expanding activities together and thus associate the relationship and partner with the expansion from that shared expanding activity.” (p.7) It is important that when your relationship is at a plateau, you find new and exciting things to do together that can increase your relationship satisfaction. These activities should have expanding elements, such as being interesting, challenging, and fun. This is beneficial to the relationship because boredom is now replaced with an activity, and something you can do together.

Jealousy is one of the most inevitable feelings you can have in a relationship. Sonja Utz (2011), a researcher on social network sites and romantic relationships says, “ jealousy is defined as the emotional reaction on a threat to the relationship, and is one of the most prevalent, but also one of the most potentially destructive emotions in romantic relationships.” (p.3). I think that jealousy is normal in every relationship, but I think how you handle it, can be what makes or breaks your relationship. I think talking to your partner about what makes you jealous allows for them to explain and reassure you that whatever it is, is not a threat to your relationship. If they can not do that, then maybe your worrying is for a good reason. This is important for my future relationships because I have had time to evaluate my own jealousy issues and I think a healthy way to deal with it, is by learning from it and then having a mature conversation with my significant other.


The definition of love is complicated because most people feel different kinds of love for their family, friends, and romantic partner. With each group, you may feel a genuine hope that they are happy, healthy, successful, and financially secure, regardless of any benefit to yourself. However, with your romantic partner it may extend further, to where you feel an attraction and physical intimacy that is not developed with your family and friends. Most people experience love in their life, and through the works of social psychologists, we are allowed to learn from both observation and research what we can do to make our relationships succeed. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (2008) said “ having close social relationships and being married specifically have been reliably associated with health benefits including lower morbidity and mortality.” (p.240). Having healthy and happy relationships goes as far as increasing your health. Close relationships is not something we should take for granted or not work really hard at. Knowing yourself and the other person is a crucial part of having a healthy relationship. You have to work together everyday to make the relationship succeed and notice when it is not working. It is important to find time to do things together that will expand and add excitement to the relationship. Being in love is not easy but it is worth it!


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Close Relationships. (2019, Nov 08). Retrieved from