Looking For a Friend and a
Lover: Perspectives on Evolving
Pamela J. Kalbfleisch
University of Kentucky
Interpersonal relationships are the cherished ingredients of our everyday social milieu. Our friends, lovers, and those who are dear to us are irreplaceable. As Duck, Lock, McCall, Fitzpatrick, and Cayne ( 1984) delineated, replacing a member of a personal relationship changes the very nature of this relationship itself. These are the people for whom there are no substitutes. They are the ones we turn to in times of need, look to for comfort and companionship, and laugh, cry, and share our lives with throughout the cycle of our existence.
These unique relationships have received extensive attention recently by researchers in the combined fields of communication, psychology, sociology, and family studies. This research focus is an atypical setting, in which scholars from several sister disciplines in the social sciences are working together to understand the nature of these close relationships.
It is this very backdrop of the human relationship that is the nucleus of this book. Specifically, this book considers the fundamentally voluntary or self- selected interpersonal relationships of friends, companions, and romantic partners. These are the relationships whose members are not automatically participants as a result of their birth and kin affiliations. They are relationships that must be forged from the sometimes indifferent, and sometimes hostile social milieu. The contributors to this book consider (a) how these relationships evolve from initial interactions, (b) how they flourish and fade in the process of ongoing relationships, and (c) whether these relationships can eventually become mature affiliations that will withstand the test of time.