Stepfathers may be structurally egalitarian as they must show gender nonNormative deference to their stepkid’s biological parent: their spouse

Remarriages divide roughly evenly between remarriage for husband only, wife only and both spouses.

Second marriages for husbands only have also had consistently lower divorce risk than second marriages for wives only. However this gender difference has been less apparent in recent years.” —

If married voters vote GOP more than single voters & divorced voters, which way do remarried voters lean? Is the stepfather vote more progressive given that, according to the research cited below, 2nd marriages are more likely to be egalitarian? Is the stepmother vote more independent? Is the stepparent vote sought after?

Does it matter if it’s the second marriage for both people vs. it’s the second marriage for the woman (man) but the first marriage for the man (woman)? Would that influence how they vote?

[Assume these are all direct quotes]

Divorce as a Substantive Gender Equality Right

Karin Yefet, 2020: “Research indicates that individuals who have been divorced generally go on to pursue more egalitarian intimate relationships (Martha Fineman, 1995). Upon remarriage, both spouses tend to view their marital roles differently.

Women → Remarried women tend to be psychologically and economically more independent and assertive, and are likely to enjoy greater gender equality and power within marriage (Schneller & Arditti, 2004).

Men → Remarried men tend to become less traditional in their gender roles, more willing to support their wives’ interests, and more likely to share family responsibilities (Smith & Goslen, 1991). Remarried husbands not only contribute more to housework than first husbands (Pyke & Coltrane, 1996), but are also more likely to make concessions during conflicts than they were in their first marriage (Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, 2006). Research also suggests that the distress men experience during and after their divorce raises their awareness of their own and their wife’s emotional needs (Pyke & Coltrane, 1996), & this in turn gives wives more leverage in remarriages than in first marriages (Hobart, 1991).

Remarriages, characterized by a more equal division of labor and sharing of decision-making power, are thus significantly more empowering and dignifying for women than first marriages.”

- (Karin Yefet, 2020)

Yefet, K. C. (2019). Divorce as a Substantive Gender-Equality Right. U. Pa. J. Const. L., 22, 455.

*Union Type* (e.g., Remarried, Cohabitating, First Marriage) Moderates Perceptions of Inequality/Egalitarianism Regarding Household Divisions of Labor

Mariona Lozano et al., 2015: “Cohabiting couples and second unions differ from married and first unions regarding the perception of fairness and equality in the division of household labor.

Although cohabiting women generally still contribute more than their partners, several scholars have found a more egalitarian time allocation of unpaid work among unmarried couples (Davis et al., 2007; Dominguez-Folgueras, 2013; Meggiolaro, 2013). Similar findings apply to individuals in second unions compared to those in their first union (Lucier-Greer & Adler-Beeder, 2011; Sullivan, 1997). These variations might suggest that different types of couples have different perceptions of fairness, or vary in their willingness to accept the unequal division of domestic labor.

Cherlin (2004) argued that cohabitation may offer more freedom to negotiate gender roles as it comes without the institutional constraints that accompany marriage.”

“As Walzer (2008) pointed out, in terms of domestic work and gender roles in the family sphere, “marriage is a site of ‘doing’ gender and for some ex-spouses, divorce is a site for ‘re-doing’ gender” (p.18).

Therefore, experiences with marital dissolution may induce some individuals to reevaluate values and gender norms, prompting them to endorse a more egalitarian division of household labor in subsequent unions and have more egalitarian expectations.”

Satisfaction with Work-Family Balance and the Division of Household Labor: The Moderating Effect of Cohabitation and Second Unions or Marriages (2015)

(Mariona Lozano et al., 2015)

Lozano, M., Hamplova, D., & Le Bourdais, C. (2015). Satisfaction with Work-Family Balance and the Division of Household Labor: The Moderating Effect of Cohabitation and Second Unions or Marriages. Presented at the Population Association of America 2015 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Is the Cohabitation–Marriage Gap in Money Pooling Universal?

Hamplova et al., 2014: “Studies systematically have found that cohabiting couples are less likely than married couples to pool their money in the United States and Sweden (Heimdal & Houseknecht, 2003; Kenney, 2004, 2006), Great Britain (Vogler, Brockmann, & Wiggins, 2006), New Zealand (Elizabeth, 2001), Norway (Lyngstad, Noack, & Tufte, 2011), Denmark, France, and Spain (Hamplová & Le Bourdais, 2009), or the Czech Republic (Chaloupková, 2006).”

Institutionalization of cohabitation doesn’t seem to matter as “the marriage–cohabitation gap is smaller in Québec despite the higher levels of institutionalization of cohabitation in this region. Québec has the highest proportion of cohabiting couples in the world.

Hamplová, D., Le Bourdais, C., & Lapierre‐Adamcyk, É. (2014). Is the cohabitation–marriage gap in money pooling universal?. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(5), 983–997.

What Heterosexuals Can Learn From LG Couples (assuming MonoOrientation dyads)

Maryam Dilmaghani, 2019: Sexual orientation and the ‘cohabitation gap’ in life satisfaction in Canada

Post-Gender Marriage: “Homosexuals do not face the same incentives to specialize, since the gender-based comparative advantages between partners do not exist in their couples. A lesbian is less likely than a heterosexual woman to tie the benefits of marriage over cohabitation to the higher financial security entailed by the institution of marriage; since, she is likely equally endowed in labour market production as her potential spouse. Likewise, a gay man is unlikely to see the benefits of marriage over cohabitation in the full specialization of his partner in childbearing and being a homemaker; since, his potential partner likely has no comparative advantage in this respect. Hence, the utility gains from marriage likely varies by sexual orientation.

Ahmed et al. (2011), using Swedish data, found that the intra-household earnings gap is smaller in lesbian couples than in heterosexual and gay male couples. Aldén et al. (2015), also using Swedish data, reported no evidence of household specialization among lesbians who were registered as domestic partners. They considered this lack of specialization noteworthy, given the strong fertility effects of registered partnership on lesbian couples, and the fact that

lesbian spouses were less assortatively matched than heterosexual spouses.”

[More & more studies reinforcing lesbians as perhaps the first truly postracial couples; though bisexuals may be postracial individuals]

The Old World: “Becker (1981) argued that, owing to biological comparative advantages, efficiency induces heterosexual males to specialize in market labour and heterosexual females to specialize in home production. The differences in human capital accumulation decisions usually reinforce the biological comparative advantages of men and women, and make the specialization more efficient (Becker 1981, 1985). Such specialization maximizes the household’s utility. The benefits of marriage, thereby, lie in the biologically based comparative advantages and the division of household labour after specialization.

Empirical research testing Becker’s thesis has produced evidence congruent with specialization, and that married spouses specialize substantially more than cohabiting partners (Bardasi and Taylor 2008; Hersch 2009; Hersch and Stratton 2002; Kalenkoski et al. 2005, 2007; Kuperberg 2012; Oppenheimer 1997).

Financially well-off partners are less concerned by the legal status of their unions than the less financially secure partners. Along the same lines, the differences in the size of the cohabitation gap across countries have been explained by differences in economic empowerment of women (Stavrova et al. 2012). Abundant evidence, spanning three decades, exists on the labour market attainment gaps related to sexual orientation (Badgett 1995; Badgett and Frank 2007; Berg and Lien 2002; Carpenter 2008; Dilmaghani 2017; Klawitter 2015).

Lesbians tend to make more & work more than heterosexual women, whereas gays tend to make less & work fewer hours than heterosexual males. Moreover, lesbians are more likely to be employed in male-dominated and higher paying occupations, while gay males are more likely to be employed in female-dominated jobs and occupy lower ranks (Antecol et al. 2008; Blandford 2003; Dilmaghani 2018; Elmslie and Tebaldi 2007; Plug et al. 2014).

Given the greater economic attainment of lesbians compared with heterosexual women & the smaller earnings gap between wives in a lesbian couple, it is likely that the cohabitation gap is smaller among them.

The gay male earnings disadvantage is reported to have faded in Canada (Dilmaghani, 2017; Mueller, 2014) and the United States (Carpenter & Eppink 2017). Moreover, Canadian gay households are reported to have higher incomes than heterosexual and lesbian households, owing mainly to the presence of two male income earners (Dilmaghani 2017).”

[This is also the case in the United States based on tax data]

“Overall, the cumulative weight of evidence suggests that the partners in a homosexual couple also specialize, but to a lesser extent than heterosexuals.”

Compounding Effect of Gender

“Women are found to be committed to their relationships regardless of the legal status of the union (Wolfinger & Wilcox, 2008), while men are reported more likely to see cohabitation as a test for the strength of the relationship, a temporary arrangement or a tria (test drive), and be less committed (Eggebeen 2005; Huang et al., 2011; Rhoades et al., 2009; Vespa, 2014).

Huang et al. (2011) found strong gender differences in the perception of cohabitation, with men more concerned with the loss of freedom and women with delays in marriage.

Thus, the existence of two women (men) in a lesbian (gay male) couple is likely to affect the cohabitation gap resulting from the commitment differential channel.”

Cohabitation Gaps

Gay Men → The cohabitation gap in life satisfaction for gay men was the largest of all. …a finding that was “statistically significant in all the specifications.”

Straight women → “The cohabitation gap in life satisfaction for straight women was significantly larger than that for straight men”… because men. Indeed, this is consistent with other research finding for women in long term relationships with men, “the cohabitation gap in life satisfaction is larger for women than for men (Mikucka, 2016; Stavrova et al., 2012).”

Lesbians → There are no men involved anymore… so there was no cohabitation gap found for lesbians. Indeed, “lesbian couples adhere to a more egalitarian ethic in their relationships than other couple types (Kurdek 2007; Solomon et al. 2005),

The equality of household division of labor is quite possibly the greatest in lesbian couples

The equality of household division of labor is quite possibly the greatest in lesbian couples (Antecol & Steinberger, 2013; Giddings et al., 2014; Grossbard & Jepsen, 2008; Jepsen & Jepsen, 2006, 2016; Oreffice, 2011; Tebaldi & Elmslie, 2006). …Lesbians’ lower intra-household specialization is not dependent on the legal status of their unions (Aldén et al. 2015) and even the presence of children (Moberg 2016).”

Thus, the high cohabitation gap found for straight women may be due to the fact that there is a male involved, given that when you double the number of men the cohabitation gap “for gay men was the largest of all” whereas when you double the number of women “no cohabitation gap was found for lesbians.

“Gay men’s income is lower than that of heterosexual men, while lesbians’ income is considerably higher than heterosexual women’s [consistent with (Carpenter, 2008; Dilmaghani, 2017; Mueller, 2014)].”

Dilmaghani, M. (2019). Sexual orientation and the ‘cohabitation gap’in life satisfaction in Canada. Review of Economics of the Household, 17(4), 1163–1189.


This post was inspired by this late post-Valentines night tweet

Dilmaghani & Dean, 2020: Prior to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, same-sex households’ homeownership rates were between the rates for married and common-law heterosexuals.

Post-legal recognition, a homeownership disadvantage is found for married same-sex couples, which is larger than the gap found for visible minorities.

Dilmaghani, M., & Dean, J. (2020). Sexual orientation and homeownership in Canada. Journal of Housing Economics, 49, 101688.

Joanna Pepin, 2019: There is “widespread support for collectivist approaches to money within families. About 70% of respondents chose at least some integration of finances. The proportion of total household earnings allocated to the man’s account was 24% when he was the primary earner compared with 26% allocated to the woman’s account when she was the primary earner.

Pepin, J. R. (2019). Beliefs about money in families: Balancing unity, autonomy, and gender equality. Journal of Marriage and Family, 81(2), 361–379.

Women can do anything men can do — lesbians proved that.
Men can do anything women can do — gays proved that.
Straight men are just being lazy.

Kersten, Karen — Kayser.University of Michigan, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1988

…the transition from the “institutional” to the “companionship” form of marriage

[Sociologists Burgess and Locke (1945) noted the dramatic changes in marriage in the 20th century — namely the transition from the “institutional” form of marriage toward marriages that place greater weight on emotional fulfillment (Blood & Wolfe, 1960; Caplow et al., 1982). In short, more marriages today than at any other time in history take place because people are in love with each other.

As a result, a lack of love is now a more significant factor in marital dissolution than ever before. Numerous studies have cited a lack of love as one of the key reasons for marital dissolution (Albrecht et al., 1983; Bloom and Hodges, 1981; Kelly, 1982). ]

“Thus as financial, social, and legal ties of marriages in the Western World weaken (Trost, 1986), more emphasis is being placed on the emotional bond to hold couples together.

How does the love and emotional bond that couples claim existed at the beginning of their marriages gradually erode for many of these couples to finally reach the point of apathy and emotional estrangement. The breakdown of an emotional bond does not occur abruptly, or immediately after the wedding, but can occur over months, or more likely years, of more or less continuing dissatisfaction with the relationship. The decline of love does not usually occur as rapidly as “falling in love” and hence, has been described more appropriately as “stumbling out of love” (Douglas and Atwell, 1988). The projection that approximately half of all first marriages formed in recent years in the United States will likely end in divorce (Spanier and Thompson, 1984) clearly indicates that the process of marital breakdown warrants empirical investigation. Divorce is a major social concern involving emotional pain, grief, financial difficulties, and a sense of personal failure — not to mention its impact on children. For decades family sociologists have been studying the area of separation and divorce (e.g. Goode, 1956, 1961; Udry, 1966; Click and Norton, 1971; Norton and Glick, 1979; Kitson and Sussman, 1982; Spanier and Thompson, 1984).

A clearer understanding of marital disaffection can be facilitated by distinguishing marital disaffection from other similar concepts. Marital dissolution, for example, involves the ending or permanent dismemberment of a relationship (Duck, 1981) and usually involves the legal act of divorce or permanent separation (Booth, Johnson, and Edwards, 1983). Marital dissatisfaction refers to a perceived low degree of adjustment or unhappiness with a relationship (Booth et al., 1983).

Similarly Duck (1981) uses the term marital breakdown to describe the “decline in the attractiveness of the relationship, turbulence in feelings about the relationship, disturbance in its conduct, and so on” (p. 1). Marital dissatisfaction and marital breakdown do not necessarily indicate the likelihood of divorce. Many low quality marriages remain intact. Finally, Booth et al. (1983) developed the concept of marital instability which denotes “a couple’s propensity to dissolve an existing marriage, even though dissolution may not be the final outcome” (p. 388). Marital disaffection is defined as the experience of emotional estrangement and the alienation of affection in an existing marital relationship. Similar to the concepts of marital dissatisfaction and marital breakdown, disaffection does not necessarily signify dissolution. However, thoughts of separation or divorce are not uncommon among disaffected individuals. Disaffection differs from the other concepts mentioned above in that i t more specifically describes the emotional state of at least one of the partners. It infers a decline of caring and attachment, and a desire for distance from the other partner.

“If we can find the correct explanation for a person’s behavior, we can decide how to react towards him or her, and predict how s/he is likely to behave in the future” (Eiser, 1983, p. 113).

Kersten, Karen — Kayser.University of Michigan, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1988

Although considerable research on relational disengagement has been conducted, researchers have primarily examined the strategies that people employ to initiate the breakup of their relationships (Baxter, 1979; Cody, 1982). In addition, researchers have identified disengagement strategies used in the breakup process based on partner attributes (Baxter & Philpott, 1981; McCrosky, 1982; Rubin, Peplau, & Hill, 1981; Tanita, 1980), the nature of the relationship (Baxter, 1982; Cody, 1982), and the combination of partner and relationship attributes (Harvey, Weber, Yarkin, & Stewart, 1983).

Baxter (1979) then identified thirty-five disengagement strategies from open ended questionnaires. Baxter determined that these strategies could best be catagorized as directness vs. indirectness and self-oriented vs. other-oriented. However, Baxter (1979) focused primarily on friendship dyads. Later, Baxter (1982) identified four strategies that partners may use to terminate their friendship or romantic relationships.

First is Withdrawal/Avoidance, in which the partner avoids direct confrontation during the dissolution. Next, Baxter (1982) identified positive tone strategies. These strategies are characterized by the disengager’s affective concern for the others. The third strategy identified was the Manipulative Strategy in which a third party is brought in to tell the partner that the relationship is over. The Manipulative Strategy also included threatening the partner or convincing the partner that the break-up was just temporary. The final strategy identified by Baxter (1982) was the Openness strategy. This strategy is typified by a disengager’s willingness to openly state his/her desire to end the relationship. In other words, the disengager is completely honest about his/her intentions concerning the relationship.

Cody (1982) used cluster analysis to replicate Baxter’s (1979) original findings and further identify the dominant disengagement strategies within an intimate relational context. As a result of these studies, five general types of disengagement strategies emerged. Behavioral de-escalation. This strategy is also known as a withdrawal/avoidance tactic. It is characterized by contact avoidance without explanation. As Banks, Altendorf, Greene, and Cody (1987) hypothesized, the “reluctance to face one’s partner during disengagement is likely to occur when the level of intimacy and self-disclosure in the relationship are low and when there is little commitment to the other’s well-being” (p. 23).

Negative identity management. This strategy is characterized by, in a sense, being “rude.” The disengager states a desire to disengage without explanation. Or, if explanations are given they have nothing to do with the other’s feelings. Furthermore, the disengager may blame the other. Banks et al.(1987) hypothesized that negative identity management would most likely be used if the partner is “perceived as constraining and undesirable” (p. 24).

De-escalation. During de-escalation, the disengager explains the advantages of changing the relationship and alludes to resuming the relationship in the future. For example, the disengager may claim that he/she “needs some space” or time away from each other. De-escalation is more likely when disengagers intend on remaining friends after the breakup (Banks et al., 1987). This strategy appears most often when one partner desires a more serious relationship than the other partner. This strategy may also be used when external pressures, such as family or friends, are constraining the relationship (Baxter, 1982; Baxter & Philpott, 1981; Duck, 1981) .

Positive tone. Disengagers who employ tnis strategy attend to the feelings of the partner in order to avoid ending the relationship on a ^sour note.’ Banks et al. (1987) claimed: Showing overt concern for the feelings of the partner is likely to occur only in the context of the highest degree of positive relationship characteristics. It is less likely to be selected when the partner is seen to have faults or when the disengager feels constrained by the partner’s interest in a closer relationship, (p. 25) In addition, past research has offered explanations for specific disengagement strategies based on perceived trust (Dion &. Dion, 1975; Rubin, 1970) , dyadic adjustment (Spainer, 1976; Lewis & Spainer, 1979), and network overlap (Albrecht et al., 1983; Peplau & Perlman, 1982; Schneider, 1984). However, previous studies have not analyzed the notion of “goodwill.” Specifically, previous research has not examined how an individual who is being broken-up with feels about the disengager based on the disengagement strategies employed and the disengagee’s current attachment style.

Research still needs to explore how those who are that are disengaged from feel about their partner after the relationship has been terminated based on the disengagement strategy that the disengager used. In other words, past research does not predict how the disengager and the disengaged will feel after a strategy is employed. When disengagement strategies and the concept of goodwill are examined together, more information about the aftereffects of the disengagement can be examined.

McCroskey (1992) went on further to suggest that tnree elements equate perceived caring in an individual. These elements are: understanding, empathy, and responsiveness. Understanding. According to McCroskey and Teven (1999, understanding is defined as the following: Understanding is knowing another person’s ideas, feelings, and needs. Some people seem to “get the point” when we conimunicate with them. They seem to know what we are talking about, what we are tninking. Others seem to be less sensitive to our communication. They do not recognize it when our feelings are hurt, when we have a problem, or when we need their help, (p. 92) Empathy. Empathy is one person’s identification with another person’s feelings. It is defined by McCroskey and Teven (1999) as: Behaviors indicating that one person not only understands the other’s views, but accepts them as valid views, even if he or she does not agree with those views. When we someone exhibiting such goodwill toward us we feel closer to them because we perceive them as caring about us. (p. 92) Responsiveness. Responsiveness is defined by one person acknowledging another’s communication efforts. This can be evaluated by the time and attentiveness of the response. In addition, responsiveness includes the degree in which it appears that the other is listening intently to our conversation.

Post-Breakup Friendships.

Although relatively little is know about the friendship (or relationship) between ex-partners, these relationship are common. Wilmot, Carbaugh, and Baxter (1985) found that 61% of their sample reported that they were currently friends with an ex-partner.

Schneider and Kenny (2000) examined the differences between cross-sex platonic friends and exromantic partner friends. It is suggested that the relationship between ex-romantic partners is qualitatively different from a platonic cross-sex friendship. According to Schneider and Kenny (2000), “The friendship between exromantic partners is a distinct type of relationship that appears to be different from a platonic relationship” (p. 454) . In light of the importance of understanding postrelationship relationships, there is still not a comprehensive explanation predicting the likelihood of a positive post-dissolutional relationship. Studies have examined the impact of gender (Hill, Rubin, & Peplau, 1976; Pogrebin, 1987), prior friendship before the romantic relationship (Lee, 1984; Metts, Cupach, & Bejlovec, 1989), and even disengagement strategies (Banks, Altendorf, Green, & Cody, 1987; Metts et al., 1989).

According to Baxter (1962), the breakup script is ubiquitous in our society. “The Breaking up of a relationship is a phenomenon known to most and dreaded by all” (p. 223).



Individuals report that dissolution occurs as a result of a relationship rule, or rules, being violated (Baxter, 1986). Specifically, individuals who dissolve their relationships report desiring more autonomy, perceiving a lack of similarity to their partner, not receiving the expected support, feeling that the communication was not sufficiently open, experiencing unfaithful behavior or infidelity, not spending enough time together, 14 inequity between partners, and lacking romance in the relationship (Banks, Altendorf, Greene, & Cody, 1987; Baxter, 1986; Cody, 1982; Levine & Fitzpatrick, 2005). These relationship problems can gradually become apparent in the relationship or individuals may experience a critical incident, which is the immediate presentation of a relational problem which triggers the decision to dissolve (Baxter, 1984). Banks et al. (1987) reported that the reason for the relationship deterioration was an antecedent in the dissolution strategy selection process. Moreover, the reason behind the dissolution and the dissolution strategy are influential in the negotiated post-dissolution relationship. That is, the deterioration of a relationship contains elements which, subsequently, influence communication with the partner about the dissolution. An individual’s consideration of the state of the relationship is the antecedent to the actual dissolution event which then often involves both partners.

Two of Baxter’s (1984) dimensions pertain to the actual dissolution message, or in other words, the message used to communicate termination to the partner in the relationship. First, the dissolution message differs in regard to unilateral or bilateral desires to terminate the relationship. Unilateral dissolution, or termination of a relationship which is independently initiated, occurs most frequently in close relationships (Baxter, 1982).

Bilateral termination denotes a mutual agreement to end or renegotiate the relationship. Second, termination messages differ on the extent to which they are direct or indirect. Direct strategies are more frequently employed when dissolving relationships which are close or ruined by external factors (e.g., infidelity, Baxter, 1984; Clark & Lebeff, 1986). Unilateral and direct strategies are used most often to dissolve a relationship, and unilateral and direct strategies are posited to be the most face threatening. Baxter (1982) found that partners are more direct in their dissolution messages when they report being close with the partner. However, Baxter (1983) reported a degree of indirectness in her study which allowed participants to “ease out of the relationship without losing face” (p. 98). When indirect strategies are utilized, there is also a greater chance for reconciliation attempts (Baxter, 1984), which may indicate that indirect messages are less effective in completely dissolving the relationship. An indirect message may communicate a lack of finality or confidence in the decision, encouraging the receiver of the indirect dissolution message to pursue believe the relationship is not over or attempt to repair the relationship.

Senders report that in some cases they attempt to terminate the relationship in ways that will be less traumatic for the receiver, such as using positive tone or providing justification (Cody, 1982). Dissolving a relationship in this way may enhance perceptions that the initiator still cares about the receiver of the message. If receivers interpret messages as congruent with their preferences, beneficial to them, or exhibiting caring for them, they may not experience the same adverse effects following dissolution. Senders may consider their own and their partner’s face during the dissolution, and receivers may evaluate messages differently based on the extent to which their face is protected or threatened. The extent to which a message is considered face threatening or face supporting will elicit emotional responses, which then influence communicative exchanges.

Baxter (1984) differentiated between relational dissolution trajectories based on self-orientation or other-orientation. Specifically, self-oriented individuals dissolved the relationship in more direct and sometimes harmful ways, while other-oriented individuals dissolved the relationship in a way that provided a buffer for the receiver though protecting the identity of the partner. Taken together, protective messages and indirect dissolution strategies may be perceived as least threatening to the receiver’s face when compared to more direct, defensive oriented messages. Moreover, Wilmot et al. (1985) found that indirect messages were strategically used to protect the self and the partner simultaneously. Thus, the degree to which one enacts face threatening acts in dissolution may be indicative of the partners’ orientation (i.e., defensive or protective).

Brandi N. Frisby 2010

Megan Sheehan, 1997


Subjects who reported being the rejectee experienced more distress than subjects who reported being the initiators or subjects who reported mutual breakups. As the length of the relationship increased, distress over the breakup increased. One coirponent of the study examined the transformation of romantic relationships to cross-sex friendships. Nearly half of the subjects reported that they were either friends, close friends, or best friends with their former partner. The two variables which showed a significant correlation with friendship after dating were friendship prior to dating and the use of indirect communication strategies to bring about the breakup.

Indirect communication is often used to assess the state of a relationship, especially if it is in decline. “Secret tests” are an example of an indirect communication strategy that partners employ (Hopper & Drummond, 1990) . As the Baxter & Wilmot (1984) study revealed, secret tests are a social strategy that people use to gain knowledge about the status of their romantic relationships. Women reported using more secret test strategies than men (Baxter & Wilmot, 1984). An example of a secret test is a jealousy evoking statement from which a person can gauge his/her partner’s reaction and hence determine the partner’s commitment to the relationship (Duck, 1987a). Another inportant way to assess the status of a relationship is through the content and pattern of the communication that is employed by the couple (Duck, 1987a). This type of indirect communication offers clues to the couple’s status. Several studies have identified changes in communication which are characteristic of the breakup process. Primarily there is a decrease in topic intimacy between the partners in a dissolving relationship (Honeycutt et al., 1992). This is manifested in the couple’s nonverbal communication and is characterized by decreases in the duration of encounters and increases in the time between encounters (Honeycutt et al., 1992; Miller & Parks, 1982). The second major change in the nonverbal communication patterns is a decrease in the frequency of interactions and an increase in the frequency of negative comments about the partner and relationship to outsiders (Duck, 1987a, 1987b; Miller & Parks, 1982).

Taylor and Altman (1987) also assert that valence becomes more negative as intimacy decreases but depth of selfdisclosure increases for descriptive and evaluative information. These findings indicate that as the relationship deteriorates the partners are revealing more information of a negative personal nature (e.g., feelings about the partner or relationship). This finding correlates with Honeycutt et al.’s (1992) study which found that as intimacy decreased aversive communication and arguments increased. Honeycutt et al. (1992) claimed that the most definitive actions seemed to be talk about the possibility of a breakup and the final breakup.

Miller & Parks (1982) classified the communication during the dissolution as compliance gaining. Miller & Parks (1982) propose that the basic conpliance gaining strategies that are used to end a relationship do not differ in kind from attempts to sell laundry detergent or to elect a political candidate. The basic strategies used for compliance gaining involve the idea that rewards would be forthcoming if there were corrpliance or punishment would be forthcoming if there were no compliance. An exanple of a reward strategy is the promise to release community property if the relational partner will agree to a breakup. A possible punishment for non-compliance would be to threaten to take all of the community property if the partner did not agree to a dissolution (Miller & Parks, 1982). Rusbult (1987) identified four strategies utilized for coping with a dissatisfying relationship. The first strategy is Exit. This scenario describes a clean break for the couple. Voice, the second strategy, involves the two partners constructive discussion of problems in the relationship. The third strategy. Loyalty, is characterized by one partner’s waiting and hoping that the relationship will improve on its own. The final strategy is Neglect. The Neglect strategy focused on one partner’s ignoring the other, spending less time together, and, in effect, letting it fall apart.


The next change is with regard to the word choice and construction of statements. Miller and Parks (1982) found that there was a decrease in the use of the present tense and future tense in reference to the relationship.

It is possible that persons who experience great distress following a breakup may actually prefer to continue a relationship on any level, including a platonic one, with their former partner as opposed to severing all ties. Another possible explanation concerns the fact that distress is positively related to the length of relationship. Subjects who have dated longer, have more invested in the relationship, and experience more distress, therefore they may feel that they have more to preserve by becoming friends with their former love interest.

Dissolution Process

Baxter (1984) divided the breakup process into seven distinct steps. The first step is the onset of relational problems, either through a critical incident (single problem of major inpact) or incrementalism (build up of several problems). The second step is the decision to exit the relationship, this decision is either mutual or one-sided. The third step, one-sided dissolution, is then accomplished through direct or indirect communication styles. Seventysix percent of the participants in Baxter’s study reported using the indirect communication style. The fourth step captures the reaction of the rejected partner. The breakup is usually met with resistance from the rejectee characterized by rewards offered or sanctions threatened to the initiator. In the fifth step, the initiator then has to decide if he/she still wants to exit the relationship. Step six of the dissolution is the alternative to the one-sided dissolution, mutual breakup decisions. The mutual breakups are still accomplished through direct or indirect communication styles. The final stage of Baxter’s model is the seventh step which she labeled “ambivalence and repair scenarios” . This occurs when one or both parties changes their minds about the breakup and try to repair the relationship. In Baxter’s study most of the participants indicated that they had passed through the stages several times before ultimate dissolution. Baxter’s model has the flexibility to allow for backtracking and repetition of stages before dissolution finally occurs. This model’s flexibility is iirportant for accurately reflecting the breakup process, since breakups rarely occur in a systematic and orderly fashion.

Lee (1984) measured levels of distress following a breakup in light of communication patterns. Lee found that couples who reported patterns of communication avoidance characterized by a lack of discussion about relational problems lead to worse feelings after the breakup than couples who had communicated openly. It is possible that the pattern of indirect communication that Lee described lead to worse feelings about the breakup because relational issues were left unaddressed.



Gaining knowledge about relationship issues appears to be a central motivation among romantic partners, despite the fact that it may serve various superordinate goals. The motivation to obtain relational information may be tempered by individuals’ wish to manage how their partner sees them or their desire to remain undetected during the search. In other words, partners want to obtain information in ways that are safe (Baxter & Wilmot, 1984), and oftentimes, direct interrogations of a partner are risky. Partners, for instance, may fear that they will botch an overt conversation with a partner and look foolish (Afifi et al., 2004). In lieu of direct information seeking, people use indirect social strategies called secret tests to gain information about the state of their relationships (Baxter & Wilmot, 1984) or elect to simply spend time interacting with a romantic interest (Guerrero & Chavez, 2005). Thus, information seeking during relationship talk may be a primary motivation that is met with substantial secondary constraints.

Avoidance of relationship talk occurs when individuals eschew discussing relationship issues with a partner (Afifi & Burgoon, 1998; Baxter & Wilmot, 1985). Avoiding relationship talk involves both the cognitive decision to intentionally refrain from discussing relationship topics (topic avoidance) and the behaviors exhibited in an attempt to evade specific conversations (behavioral avoidance; Afifi, Afifi, Morse, & Hamrick, 2008). Examples of behavioral avoidance include: shifting topics, providing brief responses, using humor to lighten the conversation, challenging the validity of the topic, and being hostile (Afifi et al., 2008).

They worry discussing dyadic issues will create problems or conflict (Afifi & Burgoon, 1998; Caughlin & Petronio, 2004).

Baxter, L. A., & Bullis, C. (1986). Turning points in developing romantic relationships. Human Communication Research, 12, 469–493. doi: 10.1111/j.1468–2958.1986.tb00088.x Baxter, L. A., & Wilmot, W. W. (1984). Secret tests: Social strategies for acquiring information about the state of the relationship. Human Communication Research, 11, 171–201. doi: 10.1111/j.1468–2958.1984.tb00044.x Baxter, L. A., & Wilmot, W. W. (1985). Taboo topics in close relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2, 253–269. doi: 10.1177/0265407585023002

Face Maintenance

It was found that women tend to list more reasons for a
breakup than men do (Baxter, 1986).

Get over the past relationship by creating an account of the breakup that is acceptable to themselves and to onlookers from their social network (Baxter, 1986; Duck, 1992).


Kristin Wong It’s not just the human contact and gentle touch of the latex gloves against my cracked lips. It’s the routine of it all: the light chatter of coworkers, the packaged dental equipment lying neatly on the tray table in front of me, the new insurance card I hand over to the receptionist. I’d gotten so used to this new way of living — in isolation, on edge — that I’d forgotten what everyday life was like before COVID. I had to document the ordinary absurdity of it all, the way life felt like a boring apocalypse. Zoom game nights with friends. If you didn’t lose someone you care about to COVID, chances are, someone you care about did. Globally, 2.6 million people have died, but how many more are still recovering, grieving, struggling? In the past year, loss has become the new normal. 2020 (and beyond) felt senseless and chaotic, a true testament to how little control any of us really have. It underscored so many inequities within our economy and healthcare systems. It showed just how inhumanely we treat other human beings. Systematically, there’s a lot to be done. But I’ve been wondering what to do individually. As we enter a post-pandemic world, what do I want to take with me? Is there anything to take at all? The only thing I can think of is an appreciation for every moment — even the mundane, routine ones I never considered could be taken away.

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.