Communication and Social Influence Processes

By Charles R. Berger; Michael Burgoon | Go to book overview

"You've Lost That Loving Feeling...": Romance Loss as a Function of Relationship Development and Escalation Processes

Michael Sunnafrank

I nterpersonal attraction and relationships are largely created through social influence processes. Communicative attempts to positively influence attraction are obvious, particularly in cases involving desire to begin or escalate relationships with particular others ( Miller & Steinberg, 1975). An important class of such situations involves attempts to create romantic relationships. This chapter examines a neglected aspect of these romantic influence attempts: the possibility that successful strategies for beginning and developing romantic love relationships may almost inevitably sow the seeds of relational discontent and romance loss.

At the outset, clarification of the type of personal relationship being examined here is necessary. Romantic love relationships include three necessary characteristics: partners in romantic relationships are psychologically intimate with one another (actively share important personal information and feelings with one another); experience amorous feelings and an intense desire to be with one another; and expect that some degree of mutual longterm commitment to the relationship exists or may develop. Sternberg ( 1986) proposes three similar components of love relationships: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. However, he characterizes romantic love as involving only the first two of these components and refers to a relationship that adds the decision/commitment component as consummate love. Sternberg does indicate that the decision/commitment of consummate

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