Relationship Maintenance: Functions, Strategies & Purpose

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Relationship maintenance refers to keeping relationships functional or strong. Explore the functions, strategies, and purpose of relationship maintenance and learn how relationship maintenance differs between romantic and non-romantic relationships. Updated: 11/15/2021

Maintaining a Relationship

This is John Study. John Study is engaged in several relationships. Not like that - he's not some Lothario sneaking around. I mean that he has a strong association between himself and multiple people. That's what a relationship is. Over here, this is Jane Study, his wife. That's a romantic relationship. This over here, that's Jack, his friend, and over here is Joan, his co-worker. John Study has different relationships with each of these people, but these are all relationships he's looking to keep open, and that means he's working at relationship maintenance. This term can mean two basic things. First, maintenance can just be keeping a relationship functional and satisfactory. However, it can also mean keeping a relationship in a specific condition. But regardless of the type of relationship, John Study wants to keep them all maintained.

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  • 0:01 Maintaining a Relationship
  • 1:05 Non-Romantic Relationships
  • 3:34 Romantic Relationships
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
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Non-Romantic Relationships

Let's start with John Study's non-romantic relationships. John Study has known his friend Jack for a long time. They're very close, and John Study wants to maintain that closeness; he wants the friendship to continue growing. So, he's going to rely on prosocial behavior. At its most basic, a prosocial behavior is an action for the benefit of someone else. In terms of a friendship, it means actions for the benefit of the relationship. Things like openness, honesty, trust, and humor encourage the relationship, as does spending time together, being supportive, and sharing thoughts, ideas, or feelings. These are all prosocial behaviors. Now, relationship maintenance. in this case. means putting emotional and physical effort into the friendship, but it also means knowing where the line is. Some friends are intimidated by too much emotional openness, especially if the setting isn't right. Know your friends, and do what's best for that relationship to maintain it.

Now, John Study wants to see his relationship with his friend grow. But some relationships he wants to maintain exactly as they are. That's what's going on with him and his co-worker, Joan. John Study and Joan work well together, they are able to communicate pleasantly at work, and enjoy each other's company. But, John Study doesn't like mixing work and friends, so he really just wants to keep this as a workplace relationship, and not let it develop any further. But, he still does want to keep it positive at work. This sort of relationship maintenance is going to require a mixture of both prosocial and antisocial behaviors, actions that communicate distance or a lack of relationship. Basically, he draws a line that he doesn't want this relationship to cross. Knowing how to maintain a relationship exactly as it is can be important. John Study isn't looking for new friends right now and honestly doesn't have time to put into developing a new friendship. But, he still wants to maintain a positive workplace relationship with Joan without driving her away. So, this balance is important.

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