Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview

10
What's Yours is Mine and
What's Mine is Yours:
Couple Friends

Lyn Bendtschneider University of Iowa

Steve Duck University of Iowa

"For all of us, the 'we' that is so commonly an expression of married life has both its positive side and its negative" ( Rubin, 1985, p. 133). A sense of "weness" and feelings of connectedness are the rewards of a coupled life. Yet, of life's stages none has a greater impact on our friendships than when we move from a single life to a coupled one ( Rubin, 1985). Becoming involved in a romantic relationship is a life-cycle change that exerts a major influence on an individual's friendship network ( Stueve & Gerson, 1977). Partners who are in a committed dating relationship, engaged, or married tend to have less contact with their friends compared to partners who are casually dating ( Milardo, Johnson, & Huston, 1983). This tendency is especially evident for women ( Rose, 1984). That sense of "we-ness" within couples is competition for one-on-one friendships, and friends often take second place.

This is not to say that couples do not socialize; rather, the socializing is altered by the transition from a single life to a coupled one. Dating partners with advancing relationships tend to withdraw from their separate networks as they become more involved with each other ( Johnson & Leslie, 1982; Surra, 1985) and they form a couple network of associates held in common ( Milardo, 1982). Marriage partners experience similar changes in their social network of relationships as the joint network of the couple grows with the couple's involvement ( Huston & Levinger, 1978). In other words, upon becoming involved in a romantic relationship, partners tend to socialize with others as a couple and, of course, they are introduced to each other's friends. Such socializing together often results in the development of shared friends or "couple friends."

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