relational dialectics theory paper

relational dialectics theory paper - Kitty Carey Theory...

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Kitty Carey Theory Paper Relational Dialectics Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery’s theory about personal relationships is one of the most realistic approaches to understanding the interaction between people. Baxter illustrates the importance of communication when she says, “Without dialogue, there is no relationship.” The concepts surrounding relationships and the problems that arise within one are not new issues, and have been explored and expressed since the beginning of written history. Songs, art, poetry, novels, and advertisements are some of the avenues through which people have long attempted to gain some kind of understanding of relationships, yet the same issues and problems still exist today without solution. Baxter and Montgomery offer a different lens: Relational Dialectics. With no ultimate resolution, this theory accurately presents the inherent conflicts that are born in the creation of a relationship. Rather than providing an answer to one of life’s biggest mysteries, they offer a perspective to aid in the understanding of the complexity of relationships and suggest the reality that no relationship will ever be perfect. Baxter and Montgomery independently spoke with many people about relationships and found very similar problems and themes within all relationships. While acknowledging that each relationship is unique, Baxter and Montgomery demonstrate that the innate conflicts within a relationship can actually be constructive if partners involved recognize why problems exist and understand that a successful relationship constantly manages these tensions. Relationships between people, whether their nature is of family, love, or friendship, vary in their degrees of intimacy. The closer two people become, the more conflicts develop that increase the complexity between them. Developed in the late 1980s, Relational Dialectics is a theory that falls under the critical paradigm, as it focuses on the power imbalances and struggles faced within a relationship. One study, performed by Dawn O. Braithwaite and Leslie Baxter, explores the communication tensions between stepchildren and non-residential parents. Using relational dialectics as a means for interpreting
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their results, Braithwaite and Baxter discovered the presence of all three main internal dialectics: Connectedness-Separateness, Certainty-Uncertainty, and Openness-Closedness. The stepchildren in this study, in their early twenties, expressed their concerns in their conflicting loyalties to their stepparent and non-residential parent, with both of whom the children wanted a “close parental relationship.” They had to speak to both parents with some sort of filter, displaying the openness-closedness tension management. In another study, Erin Sahlstein examined long distance dating relationships using Baxter and
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course COMM STUDI everyday l taught by Professor Pearce during the Fall '07 term at University of Iowa.

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relational dialectics theory paper - Kitty Carey Theory...

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