Chapter 15: Fostering Relationships: Getting,
Maintaining, and Repairing Them
everyone wants successful, intimate relationships. However, this is not always
an easy task. People often turn to friends and family for support when their
relationships do not work out. And sometimes they turn to professionals for
Fostering Social Bonding: Strategies People Use to Initiate
l Many people
develop new friendships out of their daily professional and social activities.
emerge from physical proximity and repeated interactions. And we often become
involved in situations that encourage friendly interactions.
l After some
time, these interactions result in new relationships.
however, people turn to more conscious strategies for making friends.
(1976) states that there are a number of “loneliness businesses” that help
people form new friendships and dating relationships.
l These include:
l Dating services
l Singles bars
l Personal development groups
businesses flourish in part to help their customers find new relationships.
non-profit organizations such as religious groups, clubs, and self-help books
fill the same purpose.
l Rook (1984)
argues that for-profit organizations usually have the sole purpose of helping
customers find a new partner and this may cause self-consciousness and anxiety
for some people.
l She contends
that people may find it easier to get to know one another if task-oriented
activities are utilized.
Personal Ads and Dating Services
have been studying the use of personal ads and newspapers on the Web since the
1970s (see Lynn & Bolig, 1985).
l These reveal
that men tend to want someone younger than themselves and physically
attractive. Women often state their physical attractiveness and say they want
study (1996) supported this and found that women significantly chose an ad for
an average-looking male lawyer versus a handsome cabdriver, while most men
chose the ad for an attractive waitress vs. the ad for an average-looking
services are used as well. These usually serve as intermediary instead of a matchmaker
and customers typically choose for themselves who they want to meet.
l In a
California study, people usually gave fairly realistic descriptions of
themselves and tried to appeal to one special person (Woll & Crosby, 1987).
l The study
concluded that only 10 to 15% of members achieved “success” through video
dating. Still, users of video dating services like the ability to screen and
the number of potential dates available.
l Another way
of meeting new people is through the use of the Internet.
users can get acquainted with one another quickly and intimately although they
may not see each other or hear each others’ voices.
friendships formed through the Internet later move to other means of
communication, such as phoning and face-to-face interactions (Parks &
l Although the
internet can and does foster interpersonal communication with distant relatives
and friends, it has been associated with declines in the size of users’ social
circles and increases in loneliness.
From a study conducted with 6th
and 7th grade students, Wentzel and Erdley’s (1993) found identified
5 strategies that students thought should be used to foster friendships:
l Initiate interaction
l Be nice
l Engage in prosocial behavior
l Provide social support
Things to avoid:
l Being psychologically aggressive
l Engaging in negative self-presentation
l Acting antisocially
l In studies
with adults, Baxter and Philpott (1982) identified the same types of strategies
with some additions:
l Self-presentation as unique and favorable
l Soliciting information about the other
Interventions Professionals Offer to Help Clients Initiate
l The most
approaches clinical psychologists use to help clients foster new relationships
are social skills training typically done in groups, and cognitively oriented
skills training programs teach clients to initiate conversations, foster the
flow of conversation, giving and receiving compliments, and enhance physical
therapies assume that clients have self-defeating thought patters and thus try
to help clients identify recurring negative thought patterns, discover
inconsistencies in thought patterns and offer more positive alternatives
Maintaining and Enhancing Existing Relationships: Partners Maintaining Their Own Relationships
l Canary and
colleagues (1991; 2000; in press) have identified several relational
l Being positive and cheerful
l Self-disclosure and open discussion
l Showing love & faithfulness; stressing commitment
l Spending time with common friends
l Especially household chores
Canary and Stafford have added more strategies. Some of these are:
researchers have identified ways that people use to sustain their
Norman, and Aron (in press) identify engaging in activities but show the
importance of the activities being novel and arousing.
McNully, and Fry (in press) believe that we typically have more positive global
evaluations or our partners than we have of their specific behaviors. They
propose that separating global beliefs from cognitions about their partner’s
specific behaviors is a way to maintain relationship satisfaction.
Professionals Helping Partners to Maintain Relationships: Premarital Programs
l A number of
structured, systematic programs for premarital counseling have been developed.
l For example,
the Couples Communication Program (CCP) centers on 4 major areas of
l Training in awareness and expression of thoughts, feelings,
l Training in better sender-receiver-clarification process.
l Training in various types of communication that may arise in
l Training in ways to build one’s self-esteem and that of one’s
l This and
other programs take an educational approach to premarital counseling and they
are carried out by trainers working with a group of couples.
programs are more structured marital enrichment programs, which aim to enhance
the relationship and prevent problems before they develop.
shows that the effectiveness of these programs are modest (Butler &
Wampler, 1999; Giblin, Sprenkle, & Sheehan, 1985; Guerney & Maxson,
l While these
programs may be helpful for some, highly distressed couples should contact an
appropriate therapeutic service (Doherty & Walker, 1982).
Sexual Enrichment Programs
l Masters and
Johnson’s (1970) pioneering work in the treatment of sexual dysfunction has
resulted in what some have called “the treatment of choice.”
l Master and
Johnson emphasized that sexuality occurs in the context of a relationship and
developed a systematic, behavioral treatment program for specific sexual
programs have had support in the literature and have generally helped women
experiencing difficulty in achieving orgasm.
Repairing Relationships: Professionals
Helping Partners to Repair Relationships
therapy has been developed in response to clients who asked for help. While
family therapy was developed as a result of professional concerns that adequate
treatment of one family member required the participation of all family
l The conjoint
therapy, in which one therapist or to co-therapists see both clients in the
same session, is widely used.
Some of the major theoretical
orientations adopted be marital therapists include:
The psychodynamic approach
l Emphasizes the role of unconscious conflicts in influencing
behavior and the need for insight into these conflicts.
The Rogerian or client-centered
l Views therapy as a process that requires the therapist to
provide acceptance and empathic understanding to clients.
The systems approach to therapy
l Assumes that a person’s unhealthy behavior reflects an unhealthy
but stable relational system and emphasizes the destabilization of the system.
l Define a distressed relationship in terms of a low level of
reinforcing exchanges between partners; aims to increase positive exchanges
between partners either contingently or noncontingently.
l Stress the role of unrealistic expectations and causal
attributions in contributing to marital distress. These approaches try to
change clients attributions and provide alternative ways of thinking about
their partners and the relationship.
many therapies have integrated approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral
focused couple therapy (EFT), which builds on attachment theory, is another
promising approach to marital therapy.
The Success of Professional Help in Repairing Relationships
l Two ways to
examine the success of psychotherapy are efficacy and effectiveness research.
studies validate the effects of a given treatment in comparison to an
alternative treatment or no treatment, as tested under controlled conditions.
studies focus on clients’ benefits after therapy and are conducted under
ordinary, nonexperimental conditions.
research is the most common form of therapy outcome assessment. When it is done
well, it allows researchers to confidently conclude that the treatment
administered caused the client to improve.
research studies has found that therapy works, and in particular, couples
therapy has beneficial outcomes.
research shows the value of clear, constructive communication and the
development of a trusting relationship between the therapist and both