Relationship Breakdown

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  • Created by: Leah
  • Created on: 01-06-13 18:35

Theories of Relationships


  • Duck conducted a study into the reasons why peoples relationships broke down. There were a variety of reasons including: lack of interpersonal skills, lack of stimulation, and maintenance difficulties. The lack of interpersonal skills meant a lack of communication and a perceived lack of interest in both the partner and the relationship. The lack of stimulation led to the couple feeling dissatisfied and stagnated as the relationship lacked development. The maintenance difficulties came as a result of change in location or working more hours, which led to a strain on the relationship.
  • Other explanations for relationship breakdown come from theories of formation. According to the filter theory, relationships breakdown if we incorrectly filter at a certain stage, either being too lax or too strict and ending up choosing the wrong partner. Change in circumstance can come from not filtering at the demographic stage or beginning with the wrong field of availables. Different factors become important and needs change and so it is necessary to form a new field of desirable, potential partners. The reward/need theory would focus on the lack of rewards and satisfaction, meaning that we no longer associate the partner with good feelings but with boredom. SET would state that if the rewards do not outweigh the costs, or do not satisfy our comparison level, then the relationship is not longer worth sustaining and so breakdown occurs. If the relationship isn't fair or equitable, then equity theory would state that the 'losers' dissatisfaction would lead to the dissolution of the relationship.
  • Maintenance difficulties is a commonly cited reason for the breakdown of relationships. Lack of contact especially is important; if the couple do not spend enough time together then the relationship can become strained. However, this does not account for long-distance or internet relationships. Other examples include nurses who work long hours and yet sustain their family life. This relies mainly on individual differences and the amount of effort a partner is willing to put in to what little time they may have together. For example, one study found that 70% of students had been in a successful long-distance relationship and that 90% had a current long-distance friendship. Studies seem to suggest that as long as the couple put effort into constant constant and re-unite on a regular basis, then the relationship can survive through the difficult conditions.
  • Extra-marital affairs are often a symptom, rather than a cause of relationships breaking down. Psychologists asked students what they thought reasons for affairs were, with the participants believing men had affairs for sexual reasons (including…


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