Nix, James Christopher Lee; PhD
OHIO UNIVERSITY, 1999
SPEECH COMMUNICATION (0459); PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIAL (0451); SOCIOLOGY, INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY STUDIES (0628)
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.
Social Systems Simulation Group
P.O. Box 6904
San Diego, CA 92166-0904
Roland Werner, Principal
Phone/FAX (619) 660-1603