Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview

12
From Passion to Commitment:
Turning Points in Romantic
Relationships

Connie Bullis University of Utah

Carolyn Clark
University of Utah

Rick Sline
University of Utah

Thirty years ago, Bolton ( 1961) asserted the importance of the turning point as a unit of analysis for understanding the development of romantic relationships. Since that time, relatively few studies have been conducted that examine this potentially important "window for understanding" the ups and downs of romantic associations between women and men. At the same time, relational scholars have increasingly adopted relational theories that are consistent with turning point analysis. For example, in introducing several essays, Duck ( 1988) cited his own earlier contention that "relational development should not be assumed to be smooth rather than jerky; steady in growth rather than marked by times of activity and inactivity; continuous rather than discontinuous; and characterized by smooth growth curves rather than steps and plateaux" (p. 363). Turning point analysis provides a means of empirically exploring a rich array of questions and issues associated with this contemporary view of relationship development. In spite of its proven value in past studies and its rich potential for the empirical study of current theories, turning point analysis has been under used to date.

Turning point analysis has been profitably used to study the rate of change in romantic relationships ( Huston, Surra, Fitzgerald, & Cate, 1981); general reasons for turning points ( Lloyd & Cate, 1984; Surra, 1984; Surra, Arizzi, & Asmussen, 1988); how particular events function in a variety of ways to create changes in relationships ( Bullis & Baxter, 1985); commitment processes ( Surra et al., 1988); organizational socialization ( Bullis & Bach, 1989a; Kirk & Todd-Mancillas, 1989); and mentor relationships ( Bullis & Bach,

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