SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY APPLIED
Excursus on Love
Love is the polar case of intrinsc attraction. Love appears to make
human beings unselfish because they enjoy giving pleasure to people they love.
Generally, this devotion actually rests on the aim to maintain the other person's
love. Exchange processes occur in love relations. It differs from social
associations of extrinsic significance in that rewards are exchanged because the
are means to produce the ultimate reward of intrinsic attraction. In other social
associations, exchange of specific rewards is its very objective. In love relations,
rewarding the partner is due to the need to express and to confirm commitment to
the association, not to the expectation of rewards.
During the early stages of falling in love, each partner hides his/her true
feelings due to fears of rejection and dependence. This concealment, together
with increasing dependence on each other, causes frustration. Here, dependence
on each other is tested. This threatens the survival of the relationship. Individuals
are compelled to express sufficient commitment in order to save the relationship.
When one of them is not yet ready to commit the conflict may terminate the
Human beings derive pleasure from sacrificing for those they love. After
having sacrificed for a loved one and repeatedly rewarded for it by increasing
attachment from the other, giving pleasure eventually seems to be intrinsically
gratifying. Favors and presents, being signs of love, may stimulate one's affection
for the other and vice-versa. One may encourage more gifts and favors not
because of the material benefits themselves but because of the need to foster the
other's love for him/her.
As the feeling of love increases, so does the need to please the other.
The individual with less involvement in the relationship gains more in the
association since the other's concern with the continuance of the relationship
makes him/her dependent and thus, giving the less involved more power. This
said power may lead to exploitation of the other. A common manifestation of the
said principle is that the individual with stronger affection for the other must yield
to the other's wishes and exert effort in order to please the partner. Therefore, the
individual with less affection gains advantages in the said relationship. Such an
imbalance of power and extrinsic rewards is often the source and remains the
basis of lasting reciprocal love attachments.
There is a dilemma to consider here. The ease with which an individual
obtains the reward of the other's love tneds to depreciate its value for him. A
woman/man promotes another's love by granting him/her sexual and other favors,
as demonstrations of his/her affection and as means for making associating with
him/her outstandingly rewarding for the other, yet if he/she easily dispenses such
favors readily, he/she depreciates their value and their power to arouse an
enduring attachment. Therefore, there should be restraint. To safegurad the value
of one's affection for the other, he/she must avoid being too showy or too
expressive. He/she mus make any evidence of his/her growing affection difficult to
obtain. The point made is that an individual's love depends on a) rewarding
experiences; and b) the value ge/she places on these rewards. The degree of
difficulty in obtaining expressions of affection affects their value. An individual who
refrains from showing such expression increases the value of these expressions
when they are manifested. Lovers, then, are under pressure to express affection
for one another as well as under pressure to withhold expressions of affection.
Commitments must then be kept abreast for a love relation to develop
into a lasting mutual attachment. If one is more involved...
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