Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 17
ACCOMPLISHING ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
Kathryn Dindia
Lindsay Timmerman
Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee

Personal relationships are skilled accomplishments “wherein various social and communication abilities play vital roles in every phase of relationship development” (Burleson, 1995, p. 575). Scholars acknowledge that social skills play an important role in the initial stages of relational development. For example, heterosocial skills training programs focus on relationship initiation skills (Curran, Wallander, & Farrell, 1985). But beyond initiation, communication skills play a vital role in the development, maintenance, and termination of romantic relationships.

Because relationships are made up of interactions, fundamental interaction skills are necessary for accomplishing personal relationships (see part II: Fundamental Interaction Skills, this volume). Because people pursue and service a number of functions in personal relationships (Burleson, 1995), function-focused communication skills are also necessary for accomplishing personal relationships (see part III: Function-Focused Communication Skills, this volume). In addition to fundamental interaction skills and relevant function-focused communication skills, romantic relationships involve the necessary task of accomplishing relationship development. Dating, courtship, and romantic relationships are typically conceived of as going from somewhere to somewhere, and this sense of progression is inherent in most lay and scholarly conceptions of dating, courtship and romantic relationships (Surra & Huston, 1987), even if these relationships are no longer necessarily conceived of as on a path to marriage (Cere, 2001). The primary task of a romantic relationship is to accomplish relationship development, that is, to initiate the relationship, move it to intimacy or bonding, and then keep it there. In this chapter, we address the communication skills required to accomplish romantic relationship development. In addition to the fundamental task of accomplishing relationship development, romantic relationships involve unique functional tasks. Two of the functional tasks relevant to romantic relationships are managing sexuality and managing jealousy. Thus, we also discuss communication skills for accomplishing these two functional tasks.

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