Mind
From boyfriends to friends

From boyfriends to friends

The present research has tried to evaluate and predict the quality of post-breaking relationships and what are the characteristics most associated with the development of a friendship.

 

Romantic relationships are a central aspect of human life and have the potential to satisfy the basic belonging needs of individuals (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Unfortunately, maintaining a relationship is a real challenge, to the point of ending in dissolution. However, there is little research on the nature of relationships between individuals following the termination of a non-marital romantic relationship: it is not known to what extent the former romantic partners remain close after the breakup. Love stories do not always end once and for all, on the contrary, partners often leave and then reunite. Furthermore, precisely because of the fundamental need for belonging, individuals could switch to less interdependent forms of relationship (e.g. friendship) in order to avoid or mitigate the impact of negative outcomes resulting from the romantic break. Post – breaking friendship is more likely if the members of the couple who broke up were friends before the romance (Metts, Cupach, & Bejlovec, 1989), if friendship is socially supported (Busboom, Collins, Givertz , & Levin, 2002), if the break was mutual (Hill, Rubin, & Peplau, 1976), and if the relationship had a high level of pre-break romantic satisfaction (Bullock, Hackathorn, Clark, & Mattingly, 2011) .

The present research sought to evaluate and predict the quality of post-breaking relationships: using the Investment Processes Investment Model as a theoretical framework (Rusbult, Agnew, & Arriaga, 2012), the authors examined the general nature of these relationships , as well as how the characteristics of the romantic relationship before a breakup can serve to predict the relative closeness of the relationships after the breakup. Specifically, this model focuses its attention on building the psychological commitment of the partners towards the relationship, which implies the intent to remain in a relationship and the psychological attachment to the partner. It is influenced by the degree of satisfaction experienced, by the quality of the alternatives available to the current relationship and by the amount of investment in the relationship: satisfaction is the result of a comparison between the reality of the relationship and one’s expectations regarding what is acceptable; alternatives to the current relationship may include other potential partners, other people in general (e.g. friends) or simply have no relationship; investments, on the other hand, can be both tangible (e.g. material goods, money and friends) and intangible (e.g. time, identity and future plans) (Goodfriend & Agnew, 2008). Greater engagement in a relationship is the result of greater satisfaction, fewer alternatives and greater investments in the relationship (Rusbult et al., 1998). alternatives to the current relationship may include other potential partners, other people in general (e.g. friends) or simply have no relationship; investments, on the other hand, can be both tangible (e.g. material goods, money and friends) and intangible (e.g. time, identity and future plans) (Goodfriend & Agnew, 2008). Greater engagement in a relationship is the result of greater satisfaction, fewer alternatives and greater investments in the relationship (Rusbult et al., 1998). alternatives to the current relationship may include other potential partners, other people in general (e.g. friends) or simply have no relationship; investments, on the other hand, can be both tangible (e.g. material goods, money and friends) and intangible (e.g. time, identity and future plans) (Goodfriend & Agnew, 2008). Greater engagement in a relationship is the result of greater satisfaction, fewer alternatives and greater investments in the relationship (Rusbult et al., 1998).

The authors initially measured the quality of the romantic relationship (at T1): the participants (N = 143 young adults) had to complete The Investment Model Scale (IMS; Rusbult et al., 1998), a questionnaire aimed at investigating the quality of romantic involvement before the break. Specifically, IMS consists of four scales that measure the degree of satisfaction (5 items of the type ‘I feel satisfied with our relationship’), the alternatives to the current relationship (5 items of the type ‘My alternatives are attractive, e.g. hanging out with another, spending time alone ‘), investing (5 items of the type’ I feel very involved in my relationship ‘) and commitment (7 items of the type’ I am committed to maintaining the relationship with my partner ‘) towards their love story. The answer options were placed on a 9-point Likert scale, from 0 = strongly disagree to 8 = strongly agree. Later (at T2) the authors assessed the post-romantic relationship closeness using four variables: (1) the contact level of the post-breakup relationship, which was measured with a single question ‘Currently how would you describe the state about your relationship with this person? ‘ (answer options: no relationship, acquaintances, friends, close friends, best friends); (2) the post-breaking contact frequency, which was measured with the question ‘Do you currently have any contact with this person?’ (response options: no contact, less than once a month, once a month, once a week, once a day, several times a day); (3) post-breaking positive emotion, which was measured with the question ‘How far do you feel positive emotions when you think about this person now?’ (from 0 not at all to 8 totally); (4) the post-breaking negative emotion, which was assessed with the question ‘How far do you feel negative emotions when you think about this person now?’ (from 0 at all to 8 totally). In addition, at T2 the participants had to answer two additional questions related to perceived probability (e.g. ‘What is the probability of reuniting in a romantic way with this person in the future?’; Answer: provide a percentage of probability between 0 and 100) and the desire for romantic reunification (e.g. ‘On a scale of 0 to 10 how much would you like to reunite with this person in the future?’).

The results revealed that individuals with a higher level of satisfaction, poor alternatives and greater investment in the romantic relationship reported a greater romantic commitment to their partner at T1 (pre-breakup). Romantic engagement mediates the effects of these premises on subsequent closeness: engagement at T1 involved significantly higher levels of closeness between the two at T2 (post-breaking). It also emerged that the positive association between the pre-break romantic engagement and post-break closeness is independent both of the perceived probability and desire to reunite with the former partners, and whether or not you have chosen or suffered the break. .

In conclusion, these results suggest that the IMS variables assessed during an ongoing romantic engagement may involve switching to a post-breakup relationship with a certain level of closeness. Therefore, to the question ‘Why do some former romantic relationships continue with some degree of interdependence while others end definitively?’ the present study supports the idea that greater engagement in the romantic relationship can be redefined in a closer relationship after the breakup. It mediates the effects of romantic satisfaction, investment and alternatives on post-rupture closeness. To the extent that former partners are able to provide valuable resources that meet needs, the relationship is likely to be maintained with some degree of closeness (Le & Agnew, 2001). This suggests that people who have invested heavily in their love stories are particularly inclined to try to maintain a relationship with their ex partner, as they continue to be perceived as a valuable source of resources. Taken together, although satisfaction and investment can be seen as barriers to ending a romantic relationship, in the event of a breakup, such loss can be avoided or minimized by maintaining a relationship characterized by relatively less interdependence instead of complete cessation. of the contact. Despite these results, it would be useful, in future research, to outline the factors that lead people to remain friends after breaking up against rekindling their romantic relationship with their former partners.