Opening lines are usually preceded by eye contact. Reciprocation of eye contact may mean the other person is interested. When eye contact is reciprocated, choose an opening line. Examples might be:
“ Good morning” or “You’re very attractive” or a simple “hello.”
Taking things further…
Surface contact: phase of the relationship finds us seeking common ground and testing mutual attraction.
Small talk: A superficial form of conversation that allows people to seek common ground to determine whether they wish to pursue a relationship.
Self-Disclosure: Opening up is central to building intimate relationships. Just make sure to be a “late discloser” rather than an “early discloser.”
C is for Continuation
Once a relationship is built, it enters the stage of continuation. The goal of this stage is mutual cyclical growth.
Mutual cyclical growth: A process by which commitment and trust in a relationship develop.
C is for Continuation
Mutual cyclical growth occurs within an environment of trust.
Caring: An emotional bond that allows intimacy to develop.
Mutuality: a phase of the relationship in which two people think of themselves as “we.”
C is for Continuation
Jealousy: Sexual jealousy is aroused when we suspect that an intimate relationship is threatened by a rival.
Jealousy can lead to loss of feelings of affection, feelings of insecurity and rejection, anxiety and loss of self-esteem.
Research points out gender differences in jealousy (males seem to be most upset by sexual infidelity whereas women are more upset by emotional infidelity).
D is for Deterioration
While deterioration is the fourth stage, it is not inevitable. Positive factors that can prevent deterioration are investing time and effort in the relationship, working at improving the relationship, and being patient.
Negative factors that can lead to deterioration include lack of investment of time and effort in the relationship, deciding to end the relationship, or simply allowing deterioration to continue unchecked.
E is for Ending
Factors that can contribute to avoidance of a relationship ending are finding sources of satisfaction, people who are committed to making the relationship work, or who believe that they will eventually overcome their problems.
According to social-exchange theory, relationships end when negative forces are in sway (when partners find little satisfaction in the affiliation, when barriers to leaving are low and when alternative partners are available.)
An informal (not prenuptial) contract that helps couples clarify and communicate their expectations is often helpful.
What factors contribute to relationship satisfaction?
Communication ability is a prime factor in satisfying relationships. Other factors include spending focused time together, sharing values, flexibility, sharing power, physical intimacy, emotional closeness, empathy and sexual satisfaction.
While it may seem that everyone has an affair, recent studies show that only 25% of husbands and 10% of wives will have an affair (however, it is likely that the incidence of affairs is underreported).
At the same time, 86% of respondents to a New York Times poll were “absolutely certain” that their spouses were faithful.
Why Do People Have Affairs or Cheat?
For the sake of variety.
To break the routine of a confining marriage or relationship.
As a way of expressing hostility.
Curiosity and desire for personal growth.
To boost their self-esteem.
To feel attractive.
In 1920, one marriage in seven ended in divorce. In 1960, the number rose to one in four. Today, 40-50% of all first marriages end in divorce.
Why the rise in divorce (what do we think)?
Increased economic independence of women
Higher expectations of marriage
Problems in communication and understanding
Cost of Divorce
Women and children typically experience a large drop in standard of living.
Increased rates of psychological disorders (men and women) and suicide (men).
Negative impact on children.
Generation EX: Children
A child’s world is turned upside down.
Most suffer downward movement in socioeconomic status.
Children of divorced parents are more likely to have behavioral problems, engage in substance abuse, and earn lower grades.
Problems increase during the first year following a divorce and then decrease during the second year.
Dating after Divorce
Give yourself time to heal
Establish good routines and structure for your family.
Children thrive on consistency.
Keep dating and parenting separate.
Children need to know that their time is important.
Avoid sleepovers when children are present.
Only introduce the person to children if you believe the relationship has long term potential.
Don’t have the children refer to the new person as a relative.
Don’t have children call the new person mom or dad.
Singlehood is the nation’s most common lifestyle among people in their early to mid-twenties.
There has been an increase in the number of never-married adults over the past 40 years. In 1950, 20% of women and 26% of men aged fifty or older had never been married. By 1999, 25% of women and 30% of men aged 50 and older had never been married.
So while most people still get married, but the traditional family unit is becoming less common (traditional family comprises of 24% of family households versus 40% in 1970).
Factors contributing to the increased proportion of single people include:
Postponement of marriage to pursue educational and career goals.
People getting married at later ages.
Less social stigma attached to remaining single.
Making relationships work
Behaviors that increased satisfaction
Partly acknowledging partners’ points of view
Carefully listening to accusation
Understanding how partners feel, even in heat of argument
Changing one’s views
Long term destructive behaviors
Being defensive or making excuses
Making countercharges for every charge
Telling partners what they should stop doing
Erroneously accusing partners of bad feelings, ideas, or motives that they don’t really have
Conflict Resolution: Disagreement itself is not damaging, how partners handle the disagreement is the key.
Techniques for resolving conflicts in a relationship :
Challenge Irrational Expectations
Contract for exchanging new behaviors
Enhancing communication skills
Poor effective and problem-solving communication are two major factors that impact relationship satisfaction.
How to get started with improving communication?
Talk about talking
Request permission to raise a topic
How to listen?
Reinforce your partner for communicating
Use unconditional positive regard
Beyond listening…meeting needs.
Listening is a good start but sometimes you need to do more than just listen…
Ask questions that will help your partner communicate (closed vs open-ended questions)
Give your partner permission to say something that might be upsetting to you.
How to make you own requests?
Use “I” talk; be more direct with requests
Criticism…(dun dun dun)
Delivering criticism is tricky.
Some guidelines to note in giving criticism:
Evaluate your motives
Pick at good time and place
Express dissatisfaction in terms of your own feelings
Keep complaints to the present
Try to phrase the criticism positively
“ Ouch”: How to receive criticism
Honest criticism is hard to take.
Ways to take criticism:
Ask clarifying questions
Paraphrase the criticism
Acknowledge your mistake, if you have made a mistake
When differences are too great…
Sometimes communication can’t solve everything.
When you are at an impasse you can also:
Try to see the situation from your partner’s perspective