Explanations of the dissolution of relationships
Stage models of relationship dissolution
Lee's model (1984)
Loren Lee (1984) used a questionnaire to investigate personal experiences of the dissolution of premartial, romantic relationships. She collected data from over 100 students and concluded that there were five distinct stages in the process of break-up:
- Dissatisfaction (D) One or both partners recognises problems.
- Exposure (E) Problems brought out into the open.
- Negotiating (N) Attempting to resolve problems by discussing issues raised in E stage.
- Resolution (R) Partners try to resolve problems from N stage.
- Termination (T).
Lee found that stages E and N were the most intense and exhausting parts of this process. Not all couples went througj all five stages. Those who went straight from D to T (i.e. just walked out) reported having felt less intimate with their partners even when the relationships were satisfactory. People whose journey from D to T was particulary protracted reported more attraction to their partners and the greatest loneliness following the break-up.
Rollie and Duck's model (2006)
Keeping it personal The process begins when one of the partners becomes distressed with the way the relationship is conducted (breakdown). This leads to an intrapsychic process characterised by brooding focus on the relationship. During this phase, nothing is said to the partner, although the dissatisfied partner may express dissatisfaction in other ways, e.g. in a personal diary entry.
Some people will end relationships without discussing their dissatisfaction with their partners. The promise of 'I'll call you' or 'Let's stay friends' often disguises a deeper dissatisfaction with the other person as a romantic partner. In the dyadic process, people confront their partners and begin to dicuss their feelings and the future. At this stage, the relationship might be saved or partners begin to involve others in their dissatisfaction.
Going public Up to this point, partners might have kept their dissatification fairly private, but it now spills over to a netwrok of friends and family as it reaches the social process. Others may take sides, offer advice and support, or help in mending any disputes between the two sides. Alternatively, friends/family may speed the partners towards dissolution through revelations about one or other of the partners.
Once breakdown occurs, partners attempt to…