Dialectic Relational Theory

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An Application of Relational Dialectics

Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery are interested in the communication that occurs in close relationships. I am going to focus on the three relational dialects which consist of connectedness-separateness, certainty-uncertainty, and openness-closedness. These three dialects are central to Baxter's and Montgomery's theory but they want to go more in depth than previous theorists have on these specific dialects. I will discuss this theory in the context of "When Harry Met Sally."

Connectedness-Separateness:

Billy Crystal plays "Harry," a man who believes that women and men cannot be friends. Harry is a man with a high sex drive and sex occupies and therefore believes that all men are the way that he is and for this reason Men always have sex on their minds so it interferes with the chance to be plutonic friends with women. He shows a separateness from women because he doesn't want to get to close to Meg Ryan who plays "Sally," a woman who believes the exact opposite. Their relationship starts out with contraditions and continues throughout the movie.

As years pass, they meet up with one another again and continue their argument over the relationship between men and women. This time, "Harry" is engaged which comes as a shock to "Sally." Yet they still have different opinions about relationships. It isn't until several years later and one divorce and a broken engagement later that they start to show a slow progression toward connectedness. "Harry" begins to talk to "Sally" more about women and starts a bond with her while still saying that women and men can not be friends.

As the movie progresses, there is a specific scene that illustrates Baxter and Montgomery's theory. They are both in their apartments yet he needs to call her before going to bed. The audience can obviously see that he is becoming attracted to her, but he is still unwilling to admit it. She also is glad to hear his voice.

Another clip...
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