Other Free Encyclopedias » Marriage and Family Encyclopedia » Relationships » Relationship Maintenance - Maintaining Stability, Maintaining Quality, Maintaining The Status Quo, Repairing Troubled Relationships, Managing Dialectical Tensions

Relationship Maintenance - Maintaining The Status Quo

strategies intimacy platonic level

Once a relationship has reached a particular level (e.g., a certain level of intimacy or satisfaction), people might try to sustain the status quo. That is, there should be no changes in the fundamental nature of the relationship. Accordingly, current levels of intimacy, for example, should remain within a predictable and low level of fluctuation around a set point. Dramatic fluctuation—whether they reflect increases or decreases in intimacy—is not desired.

Joe Ayres (1983) examined hypothetical reactions of participants who imagined that their partners wanted either to increase or decrease the level of intimacy they had. Ayers derived three maintenance strategies, or approaches to dealing with the situation: directness, or discussing the nature of the relationship; avoidance of the partner and behaviors that might change the relationship; and balance, or behaving in ways that would counteract what the other person does (e.g., balance favors with favors). When imagining a partner who wanted to escalate intimacy, people reported they would use directness and avoidance. When imagining a partner who wanted to reduce intimacy, participants reported that they would use directness and attempt to balance the situation. Clearly, Ayres provides evidence that people respond to changes in the status quo with particular communication strategies and that these strategies might vary as a function of how the partner wants to change the status quo.

In an examination of a particular relationship context, Susan J. Messman, Daniel J. Canary, and Kimberly Hause (2000) investigated how opposite-sex friends maintained their relationships as platonic. Messman and her colleagues found that opposite-sex friends used several strategies to sustain the platonic nature of the relationship. These include positivity (e.g., be nice and cheerful), support (i.e., show one's support by comforting and giving advice), share activity (e.g., share routine activities), openness (e.g., discuss the relationship), no flirting (e.g., discourage familiar behaviors such as eye gazing), among others. The most commonly used strategies to keep a relationship platonic were alike for men and women: first came positivity, followed by support, share activity, openness, and no flirting.

Noting that many researchers have presumed that opposite-sex relationships are ripe with sexual tension, Messman and her colleagues (2000) also wanted to link different motives for having a platonic friendship to relational maintenance strategies. Motives included safeguard relationship, which refers to keeping the positive benefits afforded by the relationship (e.g., obtains information about how members of the opposite sex think); not attracted (e.g., never thought about the friend in a sexual manner); third party (e.g., the platonic friend was involved with someone else); network disapproval (e.g., others would disapprove of the relationship becoming romantic), as well as other less commonly reported motives. The desire to safeguard relationship was the strongest predictor of all the maintenance strategies. This finding underscores the power that wanting to keep a relationship in a particular state can have.

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almost 9 years ago

I think it is time that the platonic friendship debate concludes. Platonic relations can indeed occur between man and wife or a hetero man and a hetero woman, platonic love between a man and woman is as romantic as physical love (or lust as this can be called by some). Both are romantic loves or attractions. Between men and women it is a state of flirtation. Flirtation is not always sexual. Maybe to the immature mind it is. One must understand the balance that makes a relationship work. Ignorance will only cloud one's judgment and views. Platonic love does exist but it is widely misunderstood. Like sex, one can have multiple partners if one so chooses. Romance is a delicate balance of physical love and platonic love. Love based on merely sex is clearly not a mature love. The balance may vary but the romance is still there. Platonic love between a man and a woman vastly differs from platonic love between a parent and a child or platonic love between a human and it's pet(s). Boundaries between a man and a woman are very delicate. Humanity is imperfect. We are all responsible for our own actions, decisions and beliefs and values and therefore our own consequences as well. We all want different things. It is important to clarify what platonic love is between man and woman(hetero) and the importance of clarification. A happy and successful relationship can be defined by its balance of platonic and physical love. After all it may prove to be difficult to find happiness and a strong connection with your partner if that friendship is not there. I will not touch on boundaries. Life is boundless if one so chooses it to be. I will not touch on the difference between right and wrong either. People make mistakes, some learn from them, some don’t and some don’t want to. People will do as they please. As I have said above people want different things and value different things. My purpose here is to clarify what platonic love truly is. It is a beautiful thing when completely understood. People will define boundaries according to their values and personal moral. Rather than debate one must educate them selves and be honest with them selves. A closed mind is not a mind open to truth and wisdom. Truth and wisdom will bring one to true enlightenment and a clear peace of mind. Sometimes in life one has to explore to find answers. One must under stand that truth may be spoken and maybe unspoken, seen or unseen. Mistakes do happen. Some risks are worth taking and some are not worth taking. Propaganda and mis-information closes the minds of many. How can one evolve as a person with a closed mind and the acceptance of reality? How can one be true with a partner if they are not truthful with self?