Addressing friendship transitions in early adulthood: An inductive examination of how individuals manage romantic relationships and close friendships simultaneously

                         Nix, James Christopher Lee; PhD

                         OHIO UNIVERSITY, 1999

                         This study examines the sometimes competing demands required of maintaining both a network of close
                         friends and a romantic partner simultaneously. In the first phase of this project, interviewing techniques
                         and diary methods were employed to examine the social phenomena experienced between platonic
                         friends and romantic partners when all of the participants shared roles in the same social network.
                         Ultimately, this phase of the study sought to explore and understand the definitional threshold(s) that
                         exit(s) between platonic and romantic relationships. Using a dialectic approach, this study investigates
                         four primary contradictions that exist/emerge between friends in the context of third party (romantic)
                         infiltration. The principle contradictions examined in this study were between those of: (1) Ideal
                         versus real friendship, (2) Stability versus change in friendship, (3) Advocation versus
                         opposition of a friend's dating partner, and (4) Exclusivity versus nonexclusivity in friendship. Also
                         included in this phase of the study are discussions of relationship maintenance strategies that respond
                         to those tensions identified and discussed. This phase of research concludes with a discussion of the
                         implications that these behaviors have for (re)defining friendship. The objective of the second phase of
                         this study is to determine whether or not men and women differed in their use of relationship
                         maintenance strategies employed in the context of third party (romantic) infiltration. Nine major categories
                         of relationship maintenance behaviors were used to assess these differences. Collectively, the nine
                         categories of maintenance behaviors were referred to as the Relationship Maintenance Inventory (RMI).
                         Results of this phase of the study indicate that men more frequently employ antisocial strategies to
                         maintain friendships. Women, alternatively, report using more supportive strategies—relying on
                         <italic>dating talk</italic> to maintain their friendships. Both phases of this project demonstrate the need
                         for a more holistic understanding of friendship maintenance. This research argues that there are practical
                         benefits to understanding relationship phenomena/episodes that are often thought to be negative.
                         Relational tension, change, and conflict are of primary interest in this study.


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