Friendship Processes

Books

Beverley Fehr

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  • Sage Series on Close Relationships

    Series Editors

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

    In this series

    ROMANTIC LOVE

    by Susan S. Hendrick and Clyde Hendrick

    COURTSHIP

    by Rodney M. Cate and Sally A. Lloyd

    ADULT FRIENDSHIP

    by Rosemary Blieszner and Rebecca G. Adams

    TWO CAREERS/ONE FAMILY

    by Lucia Albino Gilbert

    SELF-DISCLOSURE

    by Valerian J. Derlega, Sandra Metts, Sandra Petronio, and Stephen T. Margulis

    SEXUALITY

    by Susan Sprecher and Kathleen McKinney

    FACEWORK

    by William R. Cupach and Sandra Metts

    MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS

    by Steve Duck

    REMARRIED FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

    by Lawrence H. Ganong and Marilyn Coleman

    RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT

    by Daniel J. Canary, William R. Cupach, and Susan J. Messman

    RELATIONSHIPS IN CHRONIC ILLNESS AND DISABILITY

    by Renee F. Lyons, Michael J. L. Sullivan, and Paul G. Ritvo with James C. Coyne

    FRIENDSHIP PROCESSES

    by Beverley Fehr

    SOCIAL SUPPORT IN COUPLES

    by Carolyn E. Cutrona

    ADULT ATTACHMENT

    by Judith Feeney and Patricia Noller

    Copyright

    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 (although 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 but also has an extended family, and the family is composed of relationship researchers. During 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, 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 communications, 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 Relationships is 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 volume, Friendship Processes by Beverley Fehr, is a comprehensive examination of one important kind of close relationship. Friendship is a universal feature of the human condition, today and in Aristotle's time, as Fehr aptly demonstrates with several quotations from the master philosopher.

    We believe that this book will be the definitive study of friendship processes for many years to come. It is broad in its coverage, including an extensive reference section. The book is process oriented in the developmental sense of elaborating the life cycle of friendship, from its first origins to its endings. Within each stage of the cycle, there is careful attention to individual and interaction processes that occur. The volume is also research based. Each phase of the friendship process is documented by empirical research, including a review of the classical studies as well as the most up-to-date empirical reports. The result is an excellent conceptual scheme, a developmental approach to processes, supported by a detailed examination of the latest research on friendship.

    This volume illustrates well the fact that as a field of study, close relationships is maturing rapidly. A decade ago this volume would not have been possible, because not enough systematic research was available. Today, as we can testify, this book could easily have been much longer. This excellent book will be of interest to students as well as professionals. Indeed, we learned a great deal from it ourselves.

    ClydeHendrickSusan S.Hendrick, Series Editors

    Preface

    This book is about friendship. Its purpose is to illuminate friendship processes—how we make friends, how we become close, how we maintain friends, and how friendships deteriorate and dissolve. Thus, the book is loosely organized in terms of the life cycle of friendship. The first two chapters provide a foundation for the rest of the volume. Chapter 1 sets the stage by highlighting the importance of friendship in our lives. In addition, the chapter delves into the meaning of friendship for scientific experts as well as for ordinary people—young and old. In Chapter 2, the major theories of friendship, dating back to Newcomb's formulations in the 1950s, are presented. Chapter 3 focuses on the process of getting friendships started. Given that we meet many people in our lives, what leads us to like some individuals more than others? What are the factors that facilitate or impede the initiation of friendships? After contact is established, what variables are important in propelling the relationship forward? Chapter 4 continues this analysis by asking: once tentative steps toward friendship formation have been taken, how do people become close? Thus, in these chapters, the process by which friendships develop and are transformed into intimate, important relationships is explored. In Chapter 5, the focus is gender issues in friendship. The nature and experience of women's and men's friendships is the subject of analysis. Controversial issues such as whether women's friendships are more intimate than men's are discussed. The purpose of Chapter 6 is to discover how people maintain their friendship relationships. Issues involved in keeping up one's friendships are examined. Finally, Chapter 7 deals with the undeniable reality that some friendships are unsatisfying and eventually end. Thus, this chapter focuses on the deterioration and dissolution of friendships. But endings often bring new beginnings. By returning to the early chapters in the book, it is hoped that readers can face the prospect of developing new friendships equipped with pertinent, valuable knowledge about the formation and continuation of this intriguing personal relationship.

    Acknowledgments

    There are many people whose help and support sustained me throughout the process of writing this book. I am grateful to Clyde and Susan Hendrick for their patience and encouragement, as well as their prompt, useful feedback on drafts of the manuscript. Dan Perlman's valuable input helped get this project off the ground during a summer I spent at the University of British Columbia. My understanding of friendship has been enriched through our ongoing discussions. Sue Sprecher contributed substantially through her detailed comments on the entire manuscript sent via E-mail along with large doses of emotional support. Thank you also to Harry Reis for his insightful comments on Chapter 5 and to my colleagues Mark Baldwin and Pat Keelan for their willing assistance and feedback. The encouragement and interest shown by other colleagues and friends in the Psychology Department of the University of Winnipeg also is greatly appreciated. The research assistants who worked with me at various stages of the project deserve many thanks: Mary Kronenwald, Lisa Sinclair, Lisa Pippus, and Vicki Enns. I am indebted to Mavis Close and Connie Lambert for the competent secretarial assistance they provided.

    On a personal note, I wish to thank my husband, Marvin, for the practical (particularly the homemade pies) and emotional support he provided. I believe that he is even happier than I am that this project has come to a close. Thank you also to my sister, Lois, for her unfailing enthusiasm and confidence that I could and would complete this project. A benefit of writing a book on friendship is that one is constantly reminded of treasured friends. I am especially grateful to Lorrie, Ann, Carla, Gerry, and Delores for their friendship and support. Finally, a special thank you to my cherished, longtime friend, Lydia, who exemplifies the qualities of a true friend.

    This project was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. My summer at the University of British Columbia was made possible through a University of Winnipeg Summer Research Furlough Grant.

    BeverleyFehr
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    Author Index

    About the Author

    Beverley Fehr is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Winnipeg. Her research has focused on lay conceptions of emotion, with an emphasis on the relationship-relevant emotions of love and anger. She also has published articles and book chapters on intimacy, social support, and commitment. Her current research on interaction patterns in close relationships is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, is on the editorial board of Personal Relationships, and is organizing the 1996 International Society for the Study of Relationships conference.


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