You are here

Close Encounters

Close Encounters
Communication in Relationships

Fifth Edition
Additional resources:

March 2017 | 552 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

“Written by leading communication scholars, this text provides an excellent blend of classic and contemporary research on communication in relationships written in an accessible style that is sure to engage students. It’s a textbook instructors can trust and students can enjoy.”

Janie Harden Fritz, Duquesne University


A relational approach to the study of interpersonal communication

Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships, Fifth Edition helps students better understand their relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family members. Bestselling authors Laura K. Guerrero, Peter A. Andersen, and Walid A. Afifi offer research-based insights and content illustrated with engaging scenarios to show how state-of-the-art research and theory can be applied to specific issues within relationships—with a focus on issues that are central to describing and understanding close relationships.

While maintaining the spotlight on communication, the authors also emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the study of personal relationships by including research from such disciplines as social psychology and family studies. The book covers issues relevant to developing, maintaining, repairing, and ending relationships. Both the "bright" and "dark" sides of interpersonal communication within relationships are explored.

Give your students the SAGE edge!


SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of free tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. Learn more at

Conceptualizing Relational Communication: Definitions and Principles
The Field of Personal Relationships: A Brief History
The Field of Personal Relationships: A Brief History  
Contributions of Social Psychology  
Roots in Other Disciplines  
General Types of Relationships  
Need Fulfillment in Close Relationships  
Relationship Categories  
Characteristics Distinguishing Different Relationship Types  
Principles of Interpersonal Communication
Verbal and Nonverbal Messages  
Communication as Inevitable  
Interpersonal Communication Goals  
Effectiveness and Shared Meaning  
Content versus Relational Information  
Symmetry in Communication  
Principles of Relational Communication
Relationships Emerge Across Ongoing Interactions  
Relationships Contextualize Messages  
Communication Sends a Variety of Relational Messages  
Relational Communication is Dynamic  
Relational Communication Follows both Linear and Nonlinear Patterns  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Communicating Identity: The Social Self
The Development of Personal Identity
Defining Identity  
Human Nature and Identity  
Communication and Identity  
Culture and Ethnic Identity  
The Image: Creating an Identity  
“Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation”: Millennials and Generation Zers’ Identity  
Social Networking and Identity  
Identity, Perception, and Self-Esteem  
Expanding Identity  
The Principles of Identity Management
Identity and Hierarchical Structure  
Identity and the Looking-Glass Self  
Identity and the Interpretation of Feedback  
Identity, Expectations, and Behavior  
Identity and Self-Evaluation  
Identity and Goal Achievement  
Identity and Relationships  
Communicating Identity to Others
General Issues in Self-Presentation  
“Life Is a Stage”: The Dramaturgical Perspective  
Politeness Theory  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Drawing People Together: Forces of Social Attraction
Types of Attraction  
Fatal Attraction  
A Framework for Understanding Attraction
Personal Qualities
Perceptions of Reward Value  
Biological Aspects of Attraction  
Demographic Characteristics  
Other People’s Qualities
Physical Attractiveness  
Interpersonal Communication Skills  
The “Hard-to-Get” Phenomenon  
Qualities of the Pair
Similarity: “Birds of a Feather Flock Together”  
Complementarity: Sometimes Opposites Attract  
Similarity and Complementarity in Initial versus Committed Relationships  
Qualities of the Physical or Social Environment
Physical Environment  
Social Environment  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Making Sense of Our World: Managing Uncertainty and Expectancy Violations
Uncertainty Reduction Theory: Issues and Challenges  
The Motivation to Reduce Uncertainty  
The Relationship Between Communication and Uncertainty  
General Strategies for Reducing Uncertainty  
Secret Tests  
Predicted Outcome Value Theory  
The Theory of Motivated Information Management  
The Model of Relational Turbulence  
Expectancy Violations
Expectancy Violations Theory  
Types of Expectancy Violations in Close Relationships  
Expectancy Violations and Uncertainty in Specific Contexts  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Changing Relationships: Stages, Turning Points, and Dialectics
Communication Skills
Relationship Stages
The “Coming Together” Stages  
The “Coming-Apart” Stages  
The Ordering and Timing of Stages  
Turning Points
Communication-Based Turning Points  
Activities and Special Occasions  
Events Related to Passion and Romance  
Events Related to Commitment and Exclusivity  
Changes in Families and Social Networks  
Proximity and Distance  
Crisis and Conflict  
Perceptual Changes  
The Dialectical Perspective
Relational Dialectics Theory  
Dialectical Tensions in Friendships  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Revealing and Hiding Ourselves: Self-Disclosure and Privacy
Dimensions of Self-Disclosure  
Self-Disclosure and Liking  
Risks Associated With Self-Disclosure  
Privacy Ownership  
Privacy Control  
Boundary Turbulence  
Influences on Rules for Boundary Management  
Negotiating Privacy Boundaries in Relationships: Challenges and Violations  
Topic Avoidance and Secret Keeping
Topics Commonly Avoided or Kept Secret  
Reasons for Topic Avoidance and Secret Keeping  
How People Engage in Topic Avoidance  
Topic Avoidance During Relationship Transitions  
Consequences of Topic Avoidance  
Consequences of Secret Keeping  
Consequences of Revealing Secrets  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Communicating Closeness: Affection, Immediacy, and Social Support
Closeness in Relationships
Physical Closeness  
Emotional Closeness  
Relational Closeness  
Communicating Closeness  
Affectionate Communication
Affection Exchange Theory  
Communicating Affection  
Immediacy Behavior
Verbal Immediacy  
Nonverbal Immediacy  
Cognitive Valence Theory
Relational Outcomes  
Supportive Communication
The Dual Process Model of Supportive Communication  
Invisible Support  
Person-Centered Messages  
Nonverbal Immediacy  
Sex Differences in the Experience and Expression of Closeness
Perceptions of Closeness  
Communication of Closeness  
Preferences for Same-Sex Versus Cross-Sex Friendships  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Making a Love Connection: Styles of Love and Attachment
What is Love?
Love Versus Liking  
Love as a Triangle  
Finding Love and Falling in Love  
Love Styles
Lee’s Love Styles  
Ways to Communicate Love  
Attachment Theory
The Propensity for Forming Attachments  
Internal Working Models and Attachment Styles  
Attachment Styles in Childhood  
Attachment Styles in Adulthood  
Attachment and Relational Satisfaction  
Stability and Change in Attachment Styles across the Life Span  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Communicating Sexually: The Closest Physical Encounter
Sex in Relationships
Sex in Short-Term and Early Dating Relationships  
Sex in Long-Term Relationships  
Sex Differences  
Sex in Same-Sex Relationships  
Sexual Attitudes
Developing Sexual Attitudes and Beliefs  
Communication About Sex
Courtship and Flirtation  
Communication, Sexual Satisfaction, and Relational Satisfaction  
Sexual Scripts  
Pillow Talk  
Sexual Coercion and Harassment
Sexual Coercion  
Sexual Harassment  
Communication and Safe Sex
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Staying Close: Maintaining Relationships
Defining Relational Maintenance
Behaviors Used to Maintain Relationships
Prosocial Maintenance Behaviors  
Antisocial Maintenance Behavior  
Modality of Maintenance Behavior  
Strategic and Routine Maintenance Behaviors  
Maintenance Behavior in Romantic Relationships
Changes in Maintenance over the Course of Romantic Relationships  
Maintenance in Gay and Lesbian Relationships  
Maintenance Behavior in Same-Sex Friendships
Talking Versus Doing  
Men and Women are from the Same Planet  
Maintenance Behavior in Cross-Sex Friendships
Challenges in Cross-Sex Friendships  
Coping with Romantic Intent  
Keeping Friendships Platonic  
Maintenance Challenges in Other Relationships
Friends with Benefits Relationships  
Long-Distance Relationships  
Co-habiting Relationships  
Equity Theory
Principles of Equity Theory  
Reducing Distress in Inequitable Relationships  
Combined Influence of Benefit-Cost Rations and Equity  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Coping with Conflict: When Relational Partners Disagree
Conflict in Relationships
Defining Conflict  
Frequency of Conflict in Various Relationships  
Effects of Conflict on Relationships  
Conflict Styles
Competitive Fighting  
Indirect Fighting  
Patterns of Conflict Interaction
Negative Reciprocity  
The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse  
Explanations for Conflict Patterns
Emotional Flooding  
Communication Skill Deficits  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Influencing Each Other: Dominance and Power Plays in Relationships
Defining Power and Related Terms
The Power Principles
Power as a Perception  
Power as a Relational Concept  
Power as Resource Based  
Power as Having Less to Lose  
Power as Enabling or Disabling  
Power as a Prerogative  
Interpersonal Influence Goals
Making Lifestyle Changes  
Gaining Assistance  
Sharing Activities  
Initiating Sexual Activity  
Changing Political Attitudes  
Giving Health Advice  
Changing Relationships  
Verbal Power Ploys
Verbal Influence Strategies  
Relational Control Moves: One-Ups and One-Downs  
Powerful and Powerless Speech  
Nonverbal Positions of Power
Physical Appearance  
Spatial Behavior  
Eye Behavior  
Body Movements  
The Voice  
The Power and Influence in Families
Parent and Child Relationships  
Traditional Versus Egalitarian Marriages  
Summary and Application  
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Hurting the Ones We Love: Relational Transgressions
Hurt Feelings in Relationships
Relational Transgressions  
Hurtful Messages  
Types of Hurtful Messages  
Responses to Hurtful Messages  
Types of Deception  
Motives for Deception  
Deception Detection  
Effects of Deception on Relationships  
Types of Infidelity  
Behavioral Cues to Infidelity  
Sex Differences in Reactions to Infidelity  
Characteristics of Jealousy  
Experiencing Romantic Jealousy  
Communicative Responses to Jealousy  
Jealousy and Relational Satisfaction  
Sex Differences in Jealous Emotions and Communication  
Unrequited Love
Obsessive Relational Intrusion
Reasons People Use Obsessive Relational Intrusion Behavior  
Consequences of Obsessive Relational Intrusion Behavior  
Relational Violence
Common Couple Violence  
Intimate Terrorism  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Healing the Hurt: Relationship Repair and Reconciliation
Investment Model of Relationship-Maintaining Behavior
Pro-Relationship Behaviors  
The Model of Accommodation
Destructive Behaviors  
Constructive Behaviors  
Remedial Strategies
Apologies and Concessions  
Avoidance and Evasion  
Relationship Talk  
Forgiving Communication  
Conditions That Promote or Impede Forgiveness and Forgiving Communication  
Relational Reconciliation
Reconciliation Strategies  
Reintegration in the Social Network  
On-Again Off-Again Relationships
Relational Redefinition
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site
Ending Relationships: Disengagement and Termination
Why Relationships End
Infidelity and Interest in a Third Party  
Alcohol and Drugs  
Growing Apart  
Loss of Love  
Equity Issues Related to Family Obligations  
Communication as a Cause of Relational Breakup
Negative Communication  
Lack of Openness and Intimacy  
Abusive Communication  
The Disengagement Process
A Process Model of Relational Dissolution  
Catastrophe Theory  
Fifteen Ways to Leave Your Partner
Unilateral and Indirect Strategy  
Unilateral and Indirect Strategies  
Bilateral and Indirect Strategy  
Bilateral and Direct Strategies  
Outcomes: The Results of Relationships Endings
Negative Outcomes of Relational Breakups  
Healing After a Separation  
Positive Outcomes of Relational Breakups  
Summary and Application
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Student Study Site


Student study site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material
  • A  customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience
  • Learning objectives reinforce the most important material
  • Video and Multimedia links facilitate further exploration of topics
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter
Instructor site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring one’s course
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter to encourage students to think critically
  • Video and multimedia links that appeal to students with different learning styles

“The pedagogical activities and supplements create opportunities for students to apply classroom concepts to real-life situations.”

Rukhsana Ahmed
University of Ottawa

“Written by leading communication scholars, this text provides an excellent blend of classic and contemporary research on communication in relationships written in an accessible style that is sure to engage students. It’s a textbook instructors can trust and students can enjoy.”

Janie Harden Fritz
Duquesne University

“The authors have conceptualized an interesting, well-written book that inspires student learning. The interdisciplinary approach of this book allows for the most influential theories and concepts to be discussed in a systematic manner.”

Kandi Walker
University of Louisville

“A must read for teachers and students alike to have a better understanding of our interpersonal relationships in the new age!”

Cheryl Pawlowski
Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Northern Colorado

“This book does a superb job in providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge about Close Relationship Communication!”

Dr. Xiaowei Shi
Middle Tennessee State University

“This book provides the most up to date, relatable information to current students. The book is easy to read and invites students to discover more about their own interpersonal relationships while learning more about theories that form the basis for our discipline.”

Annelise Ewing Goodman
James Madison University

“A social scientific approach to interpersonal communication that is very thorough at going through much of the pertinent literature. For the social scientist, this will be an approach he/she can appreciate.”

Cory Williams
Concord University

“The book is user friendly and it’s very applicable.”

Leslie Ramos Salazar
California State University, Fresno

“I like the way the authors apply scholarship in an easily digestible manner.”

Valerie Young
Hanover College

“I’ve always appreciated how the text facilitates an identification and examination of the basic elements of the human communication process. The texts connection to understanding the self, first and then how we set “roles” and “goals” that include language and verbal communication, nonverbal communication, relational messages, self-identity, perception, listening, social roles, and communication climate is great. Also, several of the activities within the text challenge students to observe and reflect on these elements as they apply to their own lives in various social contexts. The contexts students will examine because of departmental agendas include intercultural settings, family interaction, public relationships, friendships, intimate relationships, and gender communication toward social justice. Therefore, the text is ideal in aiding in recognition how the basic elements of communication and specific contexts are framed and shaped by broader cultural, historical, and social forces. Most importantly, this text provides opportunities to engage in transformative education by a thoughtful facilitation of interpersonal contexts”

Nicholas A. Zoffel
Sierra College
Key features


  • The latest relational communication research and topics of high interest to students is incorporated throughout, with new material on Generation Z, love languages, friends with benefits relationships, on-again off-again relationships, flirting styles, and pillow talk. 
  • Descriptions of several theories have been revised based on new research and theoretical developments such as the theory of motivated information management, the model of relational turbulence, communication privacy management theory, relational pursuit theory, and Gottman's conflict theory.
  • Updated “Talk Tech" boxes in every chapter highlight various ways that new technologies, such as texting, snapchatting, and social networking sites, impact personal relationships.
  • Updated "Around the World" boxes feature the ways that current relational communication is similar and different across cultures or within intercultural versus intracultural couples.


  • Current, interdisciplinary research: The research in Close Encounters reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the study of personal relationships and draws from across the social science disciplines while maintaining a focus on communication. This edition has been carefully updated to include recent cutting-edge research on interpersonal communication.
  • High-interest topics: Intriguing subjects, such as long-distance relationships, cross-sex friendships, friends with benefits, flirting, sexual interaction, on-again off-again relationships, cohabitation, and the “dark side” of relational communication are explored in depth.
  • “Put Yourself to the Test” boxes: These exercises, found throughout the book, assess various aspects of students’ own relationships and communication styles.
  • “Highlights” boxes: These boxes take a closer look at issues in relational research and challenge students to think critically about research and popular concepts.
  • “Around the World” boxes: These boxes help students understand and appreciate that relational communication is partially determined by culture and that they should not assume that someone from another culture thinks or communicates the same as they do.
  • “Tech Talk” boxes: These boxes feature research that looks at how people use technology and new media (such as cell phones, social networking sites, the Internet, and blogs) to develop and manage relationships.
  • Discussion Questions: These questions, which are found at the end of each chapter, can help students prepare for class or they can be used as springboards for classroom discussion. Some instructors also have students write position papers in response to some of the discussion questions.
  • Free SAGE edge online resources make teaching and learning easier with a password-protected Instructor Teaching Site and an open-access Student Study Site.

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental