Differentiating stable and unstable friendships: commitment, investment, and reward



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Texas Tech University


The development, maintenance, and dissolution of interpersonal relationships has long been an area of interest in social research. Various rituals have been designed in virtually every culture to promote enduring relationships. Secret oaths, wedding vows, rights of initiation, club pledges and pacts, to name only a few, are all designed to bond people together and provide a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Not all relationships, however, endure. What is it about stable relationships which distinguishes them from unstable relationships in similar circumstances? Some seem capable of surviving the most adverse of circumstances while others are easily shattered. The factors that distinguish enduring from temporary relationships are not completely clear. Even though there has been theoretical interest in the subject of friendship stability, many unanswered questions remain.