Relationships begin, develop, and are maintained in a social context. People often meet romantic partners and friends through other friends, acquaintances, and family members. They also are more likely to develop those relationships that are approved of by family and friends, and that are linked with existing social connections, than those that exist in isolation from social networks (Schmeeckle & Sprecher, 2004; Sprecher, Felmlee, Orbuch, & Willetts, 2002). Although the social network literature has focused on how social networks propel relationships forward toward greater intimacy (e.g., Sprecher & Felmlee, 1992), the more neglected side of this literature is that social networks also play a role in the termination of relationships. Two people may explore the possibility of a relationship with each other but never officially start dating (i.e., they end their “relationship”) because their network members express disapproval of their relationship. Furthermore, couples that progress to an intimate partnership or marriage may later dissolve their relationship, in part because they are encouraged by friends and family to break up or because the network provides an alternative relationship.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Social Sciences
- General Psychology