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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1986 May;50(5):942-52.

Attraction and exchange in continuing and noncontinuing dating relationships.

Abstract

Measures enabling one to assess general feelings about a relationship, social exchange behaviors, and the particularism and symbolism of resources given to and received from another were examined longitudinally in 38 dating couples. These variables were first measured shortly after a couple began to date and again approximately 4 months later. We found that in contrast to what might be expected from prevailing theories of relationship development, the later status of couples (still dating or broken up) could be predicted with a high degree of accuracy from the initial measures. This finding corroborates and extends previous work dealing with same-sex friendships. Couples who were still dating 4 months later demonstrated greater love, more relationship-maintaining behaviors, more favorable evaluations of the dating relationship, and greater amounts of self-disclosure at the time of initial contact than did couples who broke up. Over time, these differences (as well as others) between couples who did and who did not continue dating intensified. In terms of the types of resources subjects gave and received from their dating partner, more particularistic and more symbolic resources were exchanged in continuing couples only later. Although both continuing and noncontinuing couples showed a decrease in the correlation between the love that members reported, this was offset in continuing daters by increasingly similar reports of reward, equity, and liking. Results are discussed in terms of initial versus gradually evolving differences between continuing and noncontinuing relationships.

PMID:
2423680
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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