Tensions in Relationships:
The Dialectical Perspective
Fundamentals of Speech
The relational dialectics perspective is useful for understanding the ups and downs and sometimes illogical nature of interpersonal relationships. Developed by communication scholars Leslie Baxter, Barbara Montgomery and their colleagues, the dialectical perspective assumes that relationships keep changing. They are not maintained, but rather sustained through changing statuses. There are three sets of tensions that are common in relationships: integration-separation; stability-change; and expression-privacy.
The first dialectic identified is integration – separation, more commonly known as autonomy versus connection. This is the tension in a relationship where either partner desires to be independent but also connected. The desire for different levels of autonomy and connection can generate friction in relationships. In the initial phase of the relationship we are like actors in a play trying to please the audience. But we cannot repress who we are for too long. Eventually we have to let our true selves show. An example of this is when a couple is in the beginning stages of the relationship, they are spending all of their time together and all is going fine. As time goes along either partner wants to start doing things independently. He/she wants to hang out with friends and have “alone time”. This can create tension in the relationship because the partner might not want to be left out. It is very common for the relationship to become strained at this point. It is a contrast from spending great amounts of time together; and either partner can feel betrayed. A solution for this would be for the couple to have an open discussion about the amount of time that they are willing and/or able to devote to each other on a daily basis. In a bonded relationship, both partners must be direct and honest about their expectations and needs. Other...
Cited: Beebe, Steven A., Susan J. Beebe and Diana K. Ivy. Communication Principles For A Lifetime. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010.
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