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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Maintaining close relationships is an important human motivation. However, even the most stable relationships are faced with challenges and threat. Although commitment is associated with relationship stability, it is the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that commitment promotes that help to sustain relationships in the long term. In this chapter, we review research on such relationship maintenance processes. We discuss how relationship maintenance helps committed individuals ward off relational threats like the allure of attractive alternatives and the problem of partner transgressions. We also examine the role of relationship maintenance in making personal sacrifices for one's partner and idealizing one's partner. Although the vast majority of the literature focuses on the importance and benefits of maintaining relationships, we also address circumstances in which relationship maintenance can be detrimental to the individual and to the relationship. We then outline a framework of motivational and cognitive resources that play crucial roles in sustaining and maintaining relationships. We also turn the argument around, and instead of focusing on how individuals respond to relational threats, we describe how the partner specifically influences an individual's relationship maintenance. We conclude with a brief discussion of the future of relationship maintenance research.

Keywords: relationship maintenance, commitment, attractive alternatives

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