Relationship Analysis

In this paper I will describe a relationship stages model which describes the phases through which most relationships, whether romantic or friendships, go through in their natural life. I will go ahead and identify one of my personal relationships and subject them to this model to identify the specific stage that the relation is currentlygoing through. The paper will also present dialectical perspectives identifying the various dialectical tensions that usually exist in a relationship context, and in the process, identify one dialectical tension that is operating in my relationship. In addition, the paper will detail eight strategies that are usually employed in managing dialectical tensions and in the process; I will specify which strategy best works in the context of my relationship. This paper will finally conclude by defining communication competence and establish whether my relationship bears the characteristics of a relationship that has communication competence.

Mark Knapp’s Model of Relationship Development

The type of relationship I will be analyzing is my friendship with Jimmy. The relationship model that best describes this relationship is the model developed by Mark Knapp who itemized relationship development into ten steps. Floyd lists Mark Knapp’s model of relationship development as; Initializing stage, Experimenting stage, Intensifying stage,  Integrating Phase, Bonding Phase, Differentiating Phase, Circumscribing Phase, Stagnating Phase, and Avoiding Phase as well as the Terminating Phase(Floyd 342-345). These stages describe the steps which people in primarily closerelationships move through from the beginning to the end.

As I think about the different events of our friendship, I can see more clearly how these stages work in succession, and how we continually progress through them. This model describes our relationship through our ten years as friends. So far we have been through the first six of the ten steps identified.Currently our friendship is in the Differentiating stage.

Dialectical Theory

Dialectical theory explains communicative behavior through the description of dialectical tensions present in an interpersonal relationship(Hinde). Tensions, each with its own contradictory pole, exert pressure on the communicative nature of a relationship. There are many core tensions in any relationship. These include; Integration and Separation, Instrumentality and Affection, Novelty and Predictability, Openness and Privacy, Stability and Change, Autonomy and Connectedness, Favoritism and Impartiality, and Openness and Closedness, as well as Equality and Inequality (Hinde).

In our relationship, the dialectical tension that plays the biggest role is Autonomy and Connectedness. We are spending too much time together. The atmosphere is stressful and lacks privacy. It feels like we have never had private moments to ourselves.We spend a lot of time together and tension has been high. However, Jimmy recently opined saying he wanted to be honest with me and told me the truth about our excessive time that we spend together and the lack of privacy. We both agreed that that the time spent together would change.

According toAdler and Proctor II (254-260), some of the strategies available to manage dialectical tensions are; Denial, Disorientation, Alteration, Segmentation, Balance, Integration, Recalibration, and Reaffirmation.

In my relationship with Jimmy, the dialectical tension that we experience is the Autonomy and Connectedness. The strategy that works best is the Alteration strategy. Through the alteration strategy we are able to manage this dialectical tension. We are using this strategy as it allows us to alternate between times when we spend a large amount of our time together and other times when we live independent lives.

Communication Competence

Communication competence is the ability of an individual to demonstrate knowledge of the appropriate communication behavior in a given situation(Steinberg 33). Communication behavior is most effective when it achieves its goals and it is appropriate when it conforms to what is expected in a given situation(Steinberg 34). To improve communication in relationships, parties to the relation should set up rules, make time for each other, listen to each other, and always ensure that during arguments voices are kept low or are done in private (Sorgen).

In our friendship, we usually follow the guidelines of communication competence. We always make time to spend with each other, no matter how busy we are and talk subjects out when the need arises. In situations where we have arguments or disagreements, we have rules so that we do not become too callous. We also try to listen to each other, even in situations where we have differences in opinion and avoid making scenes in public.


It is worth noting that every friendship or relationship is different and there exists no particular way of going about a relationship or its difficulties. It is upon the parties involved to ensure there is love, respect and thought in the relationship, and try to understand each party’s beliefs and opinions even in situations when you are not in agreement.


Cited works

Adler, Ronald and Russell Proctor II. Looking Out, Looking In. 14, revised. New York: Cengage Learning, 2013.

Ekman, Paul. Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. First. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2004.

Floyd, Kory. Interpersonal Communication: The Whole Story. New York: McGraw, 2009. Print.

Hinde, Robert A. Relationships: A Dialectical Perspective. 1. London: Psychology Press, 1997.

Kovačić, Branislav. Emerging Theories of Human Communication. New York: SUNY Press, 1997.

Sorgen, Carol. 7 Relationship Problems and How to Solve Them. 9 October 2012. 29 May 2014. <>.

Steinberg, Sheila. An Introduction to Communication Studies. Illustrated. Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd, 2007.