William R. Cupach & Sandra Metts

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  • SAGE Series on Close Relationships

    Series Editors

    Clyde Hendrick, Ph.D., and Susan S. Hendrick, Ph.D.

    In this series …


    by Susan S. Hendrick and Clyde Hendrick


    by Rodney M. Cate and Sally A. Lloyd


    by Rosemary Blieszner and Rebecca G. Adams


    by Lucia Albino Gilbert


    by Valerian J. Derlega, Sandra Metts,

    Sandra Petronio, and Stephen T. Margulis


    by Susan Sprecher and Kathleen McKinney


    by William R. Cupach and Sandra Metts


    by Steve Duck


    by Lawrence H. Ganong and Marilyn Coleman


    View Copyright Page

    Series Editors’ Introduction

    When we first began our work on love attitudes more than a decade ago, we did not know what to call our research area. In some ways it represented an extension of earlier work in interpersonal attraction. Most of our scholarly models were psychologists (though sociologists had long been deeply involved in the areas of courtship and marriage), yet we sometimes felt as if our work had no professional “home.” That has all changed. Our research not only has a home, it has an extended family as well, and the family is composed of relationship researchers. Over the past decade the discipline of close relationships (also called personal relationships and intimate relationships) has emerged, developed, and flourished.

    Two aspects of close relationships research should be noted. The first is its rapid growth, resulting in numerous books, journals, handbooks, book series, and professional organizations. As fast as the field grows, however, the demand for even more research and knowledge seems to be ever increasing. Questions about close, personal relationships still far exceed answers. The second noteworthy aspect of the new discipline of close relationships is its interdisciplinary nature. The field owes its vitality to scholars from communication, family studies and human development, psychology (clinical, counseling, developmental, social), and sociology as well as other disciplines such as nursing and social work. It is this interdisciplinary wellspring that gives close relationships research its diversity and richness, qualities that we hope to achieve in the current series.

    The Sage Series on Close Relationshipsis designed to acquaint diverse readers with the most up-to-date information about various topics in close relationships theory and research. Each volume in the series covers a particular topic or theme in one area of close relationships. Each book reviews the particular topic area, describes contemporary research in the area (including the authors’ own work, where appropriate), and offers some suggestions for interesting research questions and/or real-world applications related to the topic. The volumes are designed to be appropriate for students and professionals in communication, family studies, psychology, sociology, and social work, among others. A basic assumption of the series is that the broad panorama of close relationships can best be portrayed by authors from multiple disciplines, so that the series cannot be “captured” by any single disciplinary bias.

    The current book, called simply Facework,is the first series volume with a clear communication orientation. Authors William Cupach and Sandra Metts review their own research and that of others on the self-presentational aspects of communication in intimate relationships. Gaining face, maintaining face, and losing face all have numerous implications for the management of close relationships, and these two communication scholars make a compelling case for facework as basic relationship currency. Whether our relationships are in stages of formation, maintenance, or disengagement, we are (or should be) attending to the face needs of ourselves and our partners. The book is exceedingly readable; its clear and humorous prose offers the reader a pleasurable learning experience. Perhaps that is to be expected from two experts in communication.

    SusanS.Hendrick Series Editors


    This book is about the concepts of faceand facework.Our goal is to show the centrality of face issues in the conduct of close relationships by extending and amplifying face management theory. We believe these concepts are useful for understanding certain aspects of the everyday functioning of close relationships. In particular, we find the management of face to be useful for illuminating how relational partners cope with problematic and challenging interaction episodes.

    In the opening chapter, we delineate the concepts of face and facework and explain their relevance to social interaction and personal relationships. Chapter 2 characterizes the prototypical problematic episode—the embarrassing social predicament. We suggest that coping with embarrassing situations helps individuals to learn the social expectations and practices associated with managing threats to face. Chapter 3 addresses face concerns that arise in developing relationships. We specifically consider how partners manage vulnerability as informational and physical intimacy increase. An important theme in Chapter 3 is that partners construct a shared relational culture different from, but based on, social norms and expectations. In Chapter 4, we consider the management of problematic episodes by partners in established close relationships. We examine the problematic episodes of complaining, seeking or rendering social support, and discovering or revealing a relational transgression. The focus in Chapter 5 shifts to the role of facework in the disengagement and dissolution of close relationships. The final chapter crystallizes some key implications that derive from application of face management theory to close relationships.

    We are grateful to the editors of this series, Clyde Hendrick and Susan Hendrick, for their generous patience and guidance throughout this project. We also want to acknowledge our very special friends, Sam and George, who have taught us more than anyone about close relationships, and about ourselves.

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    About the Authors

    William R. Cupach received his Ph.D. in communication arts and sciences from the University of Southern California in 1981. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Communication at Illinois State University, Normal. The topic of relational competence is the central theme of his research, and currently he is exploring how individuals manage awkward, difficult, and challenging interactions in interpersonal relationships. He currently serves as Associate Editor for the communication section of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. His scholarly work has appeared in various journals, including Human Communication Research, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Communication Monographs, Communication Quarterly, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, and the WesternJournal of Communication. He is coauthor, with Brian Spitzberg, of Interpersonal Communication Competence (in the Sage Series on Interpersonal Communication) and the Handbook of Interpersonal Competence Research. Recently, he and Spitzberg completed an edited volume of essays titled The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication.

    Sandra Metts received her Ph.D. in communication research from the University of Iowa in 1983. She is a Professor in the Department of Communication at Illinois State University, Normal, where she teaches interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, language, and research methods. Her research interests focus on the management of problematic social and relational episodes, including embarrassment, relational disengagement, deception, relational transgressions, and sexual communication. She is coauthor, with Valerian Derlega, Sandra Petronio, and Stephen Margulis, of another book in the Sage Series on Close Relationships,Self-Disclosure. Her work has also appeared in a variety of journals, including Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Western Journal of Communication, as well as in many edited volumes, such as the Handbook of Interpersonal Communication; Communication Yearbook 13; Studying Interpersonal Interaction; Theoretical Perspectives on Relationship Loss; AIDS: A Communication Perspective; The Communication of Social Support: Messages, Interactions, Relationships, and Community; and The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication.

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