Abstract and Keywords
Although psychologists have learned a great deal about negative and harmful processes in relationships, they have focused less on understanding the positive and beneficial processes in relationships. Of course, almost every close relationship offers the promise of both meaningful rewards and substantial risks, such as support, intimacy, companionship, conflict, rejection, and criticism. In this chapter, we attempt to highlight the complexities involved in relationships, with an emphasis on positive processes, with the goal of creating a picture that represents the dynamic reality of the social world. We first discuss the important role that intimate relationships play in human life and their strong links with health and well-being. We then highlight research on the positive processes in relationships, such as positive emotional expressions, shared novel experiences, intimacy, and the benefits of sharing positive events. This work complements previous literature which has tended to focus on the potential pitfalls in relationships. For example, displaying low levels of negative emotions may not be enough to create a strong relationship—expressions of positive emotions are also beneficial. Finally, we point to future directions in the positive psychology of relationships, such as a greater focus on biology and health (e.g., examining hormones that promote bonding), and the need to examine other types of relationships, such as friendships.
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