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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.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 6. Revealing and Hiding Ourselves

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