The Breakdown of Relationships

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  • Created by: imanilara
  • Created on: 25-04-16 09:41

Theory 1: Lack of skills/ stimulation/ maintenance

A) Lack of skills:
-Some ppl find relationships difficult because they lack the interpersonal skills to make them mutually satisfying, i.e. they are poor communicators + likely to be unrewarding in their interactions w other ppl. The lack of social skills means that others perceive them as not being interested in relating, and so relatinoships breakdown before theyve even got started.

B) Lack of stimulation:
-Social Exchange Theory says ppl look for rewards in relationships, and so lack of the reward of stimulation = breakup. Lack of stimulation = boredom or lack of direction for the relationship in the future. Baxter 1994 found that disengaged couples often cite lack of stimulation as their reasoning for breaking up. Ppl expect relationships to change and develop, and if they don't this is seen as a justified reason to end the relaitonship or have an affair.

C) Maintenance difficulties
-Relationships have a strain because people can't see eachother enough, eg when people go to uni (Shaver et al). Maintaining the relationship becomes overwhelming = breakdown. Maintenance usually =quality time+effort.

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AO2 of theory 1

Eval lack of skills and stimulation:

-A main reason why pl breakup is bc of extramarital affairs. Boekhout et a (1999) showed that such affair hapen bc lack of skills and/or stimulation. They asked undergraduates to list sexual and emotional reasons why pl in relaitonships may breakup. They said that sexual reasons (sexual boredom) for infidelity would most likely be used by men, whereas emotional reasons (feeling neglected) would most likely be used by women.

this evidence is supporting- emotional reasons = lack of skills? Sexual reasons = lack of stimulation.
Eval:- undergraduates, lacks pop val, student relationships are notoriously short term- factors such as stimulation and skills are perhaps more salient reasons to breakup for younger ppl than older ppl. Highlights gender differences, and so a good thing.

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Continued AO2

Eval of maintenance difficulties:

-too simplistic to say that not devoting enough time to a partner = breakup. LDR's and LDF's are more common than we may think. One study found that 70% of students sampled had experienced at least one LDRR and that 90% had experienced a LDF (Rohfling 1995). In our MOBILE society, ppl do have to move and be separated from friends and family and so develop management strategies. Holt and Stone (1988) fount that there was little decrease in relationship satisfaction as long as lovers reunite regularly. Verbal (actual) and imagined (daydreams) communication was crucial in fulfilling the physical deficit of the partner.

The evidence is a weakness of the theory- shwos some relationships can be maintained even when there is a strain such as physical separation. It also shows that ppl use coping mechanisms to overcome these maintenance difficulties.
-Good pop val- good eco val as they used couples that were in real life relationships
-self report technique subject to SDB- ppl's relationships are sensitive

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Theory 2: Relationship breakdown model Rollie+Duck

Rollie and Duck focused on the rocess of relationship breakdown.

Step 1: realisation of inequality / dissatisfaction  "I can't stand this anymore!"

Step 2: Intra Psychic process: characterised by a brooding like focus on the relationship - the other partner is unaware of the dissatisfaction + the upset is expressed in other ways eg talking to family members/friends ... ppl brood on the costs and not the rewards, social withdrawal .. "I'd be justified in withdrawing"

Step 3: Dyadic processes: this process may not be reached - relationship ends in intra psychic stage. In this stage there is confrontation with the partner about how they feel -the relationship may be saved at this point or others may be drawn into it.

Step 4: Social processes: people may have been unaware of issues up until this point- by now it as spilled over into social networks and this can resolve the dissolution process if others try to help, or it may speed it up if others spread revelations about the behaviour of the other partner - eg going public/ criticising the ex to friends...

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Continued AO1

Step 5: Grave dressing processes: having left the relationship each partner justifies their reasoning for breaking up- this is key as each person presents themselves to others as trustworthy and loyal should they wish to be accepted by future partners- they then try and paint their part in the breakdown in the most favourable light. Eg preparing stories for new audiences "time to get a new life"

Step 6: Resurrection processes: each partner prepares themselves for a new relationship by redefining themselves- this involves re-evaluating who they are and what they want in a new partner- learning from old mistakes - reframing of past relational life.

RECAP: Initial distress and realisation -->intrapsychic process --> dyadic process--> social process-->grace dressing process--> resurrection process

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AO2 Theory 2

-supported by observations of real life relationships
-Tashiro and Frazier  (2003)- surveyed undergrads who had just broke up w their partners- reported personal distress and also emotional growth- giving them new insights into themselves - clearer idea about future partners--> evidence of grave dressing process and resurrection process

Supporting of this theory
-low pop val- undergrads - duration quality and committment level of student relationships is likely to vary from those of older generations
-cannot be readily extrapulated onto the general pop

Implications for intervention- R+D's model stresses the importance of communication- counsellors should pay attention to what partner is saying, topics they discuss and the way they talk about the partner- offers insight into what stage they are in--> earlystages of relationship breakdown couples could be instructed to re-evaluate past behaviour in order to re-establish old affectionate behaviour.  In later stages others outside might be brought in- dependant on stage of dissolution.

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Theory 1 IDA:
-The importance of social skills deficits in relationship breakdown have been demonstrated by studies who have tried to enhance relationship skills in distressed couples- The couples coping enhancement training (CCET) program aims to sensitise couples on the following - equality, respect, communication and problem solving skills

Cina et al 2003: 100 couples, 50 had CCET, 50 had no therapy- result CCET group reported higher marital quality after training

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IDA Gender differences: Women more likely to stress unhappiness and incompatibility as reasons for dissolution- men are particularly upset by sexual withholding (Brehm+Kassin 1996). Women have more desire to stay friends whereas men will wish to move on.

IDA: Ethical consideration: carrying research into such a sensitive area can raise issues of vulnerability. Privacy is important, as reasons why people are usually of personal nature-confidentiality would have to be reiterated

REAL WORLD: women in abusive relationships - may face more physical harm if she discloses the fact that she has participated in the study if her partner/ex finds out- do the ends justify the means in cost benefit analysis??

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