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date: 24 January 2021

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 and emphasize the 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 emotions, intimacy, growth of the self-concept, and the benefits of sharing positive events. This work complements previous literature, which has tended to focus on the potential pitfalls in relationships. Inherent in our position is that a lack of negatives in a relationship is not equivalent to a positive relationship; just as an absence of psychopathology is not equivalent to flourishing. We end with outlining future directions in the positive psychology of relationships, such as a greater focus on biology and health and the need for examining moderating conditions.

Keywords: close relationships, approach–avoidance motivation, intimacy, responsiveness, positive emotions

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