Establishing and Maintaining Relationships

Establishment and maintenance of relationships

According to the dictionary, a relationship is defined as “the state of being connected or related” or “the mutual dealings, connections or feelings that exist between two parties”. Whether social, sexual, emotional, legal or work-related, a successful relationship involves mutual commitment and expectation of benefit for both parties. In the reward/need satisfaction model of Byrne & Clore (1970), it is the rewarding aspects of the relationship that are key to its formation; if there is no, or little, reward, then the formation does not take place. It is important to note that mutuality of reward does not necessarily imply tangible equivalence or equity – the two parties can derive apparently widely divergent benefits from their relationship.

The establishment of the relationship depends on the facility for communication between the parties as this is the essential conduit linking the initial need or desire to the eventual reward or objective. Although there may be social, physical or cultural barriers that impede the formation in the first place, failure to communicate satisfactorily will make it difficult both to establish the relationship and to keep it going. Verbal and written communication can be limited by language barriers but non-verbal communication such as body language and gestures are universally understood and can enable an effective level of communication nonetheless.   Language barriers, the existence of physical or sensory impairment in one or both parties or difference in religious beliefs may all deter individuals from initiating a relationship but even if initial lines of communication are formed to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, the issue of their potentially different expectations can then make the continuation of the relationship difficult or even derail it. The charming young man you met at the party turns out to be very controlling, discouraging you from seeing your friends...