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Models of Relational Dynamics

Cengage Learning. Looking Out, Looking In, 15th Edition © 2016. All rights reserved.



4-6 pages – Due May 5, 2022


No matter what type of relationship we are in—whether in terms of friendship, romance, or family members, all relationships are in the process of either developing or dying. This paper requires you to analyze an interpersonal relationship that you have or had using communication concepts/theories and principles from the text and lectures (as well as incorporating the social context of generation and culture).


The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize and demonstrate your understanding of the course objectives for this class. You are to analyze interpersonal communication principles and concepts in the development, maintenance, and possibly, the deterioration of a long term significant relationship. The relationship you choose to write about can be one that you are currently engaged in, or one that has already ended. It should, however, be a fairly recent one, not a relationship that ended more than five years. It can be a friendship, personal relationship or a romantic relationship. You don’t need to disclose any information you are not comfortable with disclosing.

: You can choose a relationship with anyone
your parents, grandparents, siblings or children.


This paper involves more than just simply summarizing the development of a relationship. While you will want to offer some description of the relationship; the main emphasis should be on how it has developed in communication between the two of you. You should organize your paper into the following three parts:

1. Introduction: Describe the relationship. Who are the participants? What is the history of the relationship? What is the current status of the relationship? This information should be relatively brief. Next, preview the body of the paper by indicating the terms/concepts you will use to analyze the relationship.

2. Body: In this section of the paper you will analyze the relationship using interpersonal communication concepts, terms, topics, etc. This is by far the longest section of the paper.

 First organize the body of the paper around the stages of friendship or romantic relationship development. These stages can provide an excellent outline for the paper. The key here is to talk about how the relationship stages (listed in Chapter 9) are created in COMMUNICATION. How did communication in your relationship change to move the relationship to

another stage, and how did communication define a certain stage? Be sure to provide examples of the behavior that took place in those stages.

In addition to discussing your relationship as it moved through the relationship stages, select at least three interpersonal communication concepts/terms in this course and apply them to your relationship. You may discuss these concepts/terms and how they related to the communication within relationship stages, or you may want to discuss them apart from the stages in terms of how they have played out in your relationship. Be sure to place these concepts/terms in BOLD.

Some concepts you should consider using are the following: nonverbal communication, intrinsic rewards , relational messages, perception, listening, self-fulfilling prophecies, fallacies, social roles, gender communication, influence of culture, self-concept, self-esteem, self-disclosure, relational dialectics, confirming/disconfirming messages, emotions, culture, language barriers, and conflict.

3. Conclusion: This section includes a brief summary of the body of the paper. End the paper with some reflections on your relationship, and what you learned as a result of writing this paper. Be sure to also state the relationship stage that your relationship is in currently, and if you want the relationship to continue.

4. Reference Page – Everyone should have a reference page. Be sure to cite all your references, including the course text, using APA style references.


Adler, R. B. & Proctor, R. F., II. (2017). Looking out looking in, fifteen edition.

Boston, MA: Cengage Learning

Your relationship paper should be typed double-spaced, using the Times New Roman font, size 12. Be sure to indent each paragraph and to number your pages. Don’t forget to include your name, course, date and assignment title:

John Hill

COM 1090 – Interpersonal Communication

May 5, 2022

Relationship Paper




Cassandra Flemison

COM 1090-Interpersonal Communication

April 26, 2019

Relationship Paper

Welcome to the relationship between my ex-friend of twelve years. We spent so much time together that people who knew us called us a dynamic-duo. From 4th grade to 12th grade, we were super close, but going to different colleges separated us. We met during 3rd grade after I transferred to Walker T. Jones Elementary School. We had a typical best friend relationship. We would go places together, hang out, and talk a lot. We spent time in school together, during lunch, during class, etc. However, to date our relationship is now in its final stages. We don’t talk at all anymore, but I did wish her a happy birthday recently.

The first stage of our relationship was Initiating. “Initiating is a brief stage and it follows conventional formulas: handshakes, remarks about innocuous subjects like the weather, and friendly expressions.” (Adler, 2017, p. 284). As for our relationship, we were in the same class.

Therefore, the Initiating Stage began when we were in class, and everyone was trying to make friends. As for me, since I was new, we introduced ourselves to one another, engaging in small talk. In our class, when we were done with our work, students would have extra time to get into groups and hangout. This was the moment when we began to speak to each other. At this time, since we weren’t really talking and had just met for the first time, there was not much conversing – just a casual hello and asking small questions. I remember us asking what our names were, but nothing serious at all.

Next, we entered the Experimenting Stage. This stage is also in the beginning and consists of a search for common ground. (Adler, 2017, p. 285). This stage also involves additional small talk and getting to know the other person. As for my relationship with her, our experimenting stage began once we got to middle school. This occurred because she was a person who I met in elementary school that was familiar to me. In middle school, we happened to be in the same classes. Therefore, when we saw each other and would ask each other what our favorite colors were: red for Cassie and blue for me. Another discussion that we had was what type of foods we liked. We both enjoyed eating pizza with almost any type of toppings, and we both enjoyed eating ice cream. We began to ask small questions to know more about the other person. We asked each other questions about our family, how many siblings that we both had and engaged in just small conversations. We were simply to know each other to see if we had any common interests.

Soon afterwards, we moved to the Intensifying Stage, and this is the stage where we really began getting to know each other more personally. This stage includes all of the good times that we had. There was trust​ in the relationship with​ our conversations. This stage is relational development that precedes integrating in which the parties move toward integration by increasing the amount of contact and breadth and depth of self-disclosure.” (Adler, 2017, p. 285). As for our friendship during this stage, we would casually hang out together in class and around school. We would be partners when there was a classwork assignment that required us to find another person. During this stage, when there were assemblies in school, she met my family and I met hers. We would hang out during school in the library. If we both needed each other to do something for the other, we would do it. In our friendship, we both displayed the fallacy of approval​ with one another. We would always ask​ each other for each other’s opinion when it came to fashion. We would always ask each other if our hair was okay. We knew that the others’ opinions were honest and valid. Additionally, if she would go to the bathroom and ask me to watch something for her, I would. We would also self-disclose personal information. I would tell her my personal business, and she would tell me some of hers.​ We confided in each other and would gossip at this point of our friendship. She would also tell me information going on in her personal life. Once we were transitioning from middle school to high school, we would hang out in public. We would go to each other’s houses, we would give each other a ride home, we would go to the mall together, & go to parties together.

After the Intensifying Stage, we moved on to integrating. “The Integrating Stage is a time when individuals give up some characteristics of their old selves and develop shared identities.” (Adler, 2017, p. 286). In this stage of our relationship, we began to rub off on each other. When I would wear certain outfits, she would take tips from me about how to match items and so forth. There were times when something would happen, or someone would say something and if it was strange or funny to us, we would communicate nonverbally. We would look at each other and know​ what the other was thinking and start laughing without saying a word. Initially, it would be me that would make faces, but since we were with each other so much, she began doing the same. We started to act the same and people would know that about us as one. When people would address us, it was like we were one person. I remember when we were in school, if either of us were alone, people would ask where the other person was. Even people that didn’t know Cassie would ask me where my friend was. I also used to have bus duty and I would write down the bus numbers for the whole school. I invited her to join me with participating in bus duty and we did it together for two years. When she was not able to do it, our sponsor would ask where she was even though I was the original person to do it. It was like we were a team and everyone knew it.

The next stage is the Bonding Stage. However, since we separated at the end of our senior year in high school and went to different colleges, we never moved in together. Therefore, we never reached this stage

However, our relationship did enter the Differentiating Stage. This stage refers to “the point where the “we” orientation that has developed shifts, and more “me” messages begin to occur.” (Adler, 2017, p. 287). During our latter years of high school, we still hung out, but not as much. Cassie and I began to drift apart. The relationship was not as exciting anymore. She started to hang out with her new friends a little more, but I wasn’t really friends with them. This caused her to say “I” want to do this, but I didn’t really want to hang with her friends. Her friends and I didn’t have the same vibes.

By the beginning of our senior year in high school, we had reached the circumscribing stage. “In this stage, the communication between members decreases in quantity and quality.” (Adler, 2017, p. 288). We were not avoiding each other at all, but things just changed. There was not much to really talk about and we did not text each other at all. If we saw each other, we would converse, but conversations were no longer rich at all. She kind of shifted more towards doing things with her other friends, which caused us to not really talk that much even as we were planning and engaging in all the activities that seniors partake in (dances, prom, senior pictures, senior trip). Now that we are both in college, we are currently not able to see each other. This caused a restriction in our relationship.

The final stage of our relationship is stagnating. “The excitement of the intensifying stage is long gone, and partners behave toward each other in old, familiar ways without much feeling.” (Adler, 2017, p. 288). Our friendship isn’t completely over. I still consider her as a friend, but we don’t talk much at all, aside from the few comments we post on social media to each other and the occasional text messages around the holidays or our birthdays. There is no urge to talk or reconnect. We are no longer seen together due to circumstances, and we do not hang out or do activities together.

Altogether, we are not in the Avoiding or Terminating Stage, our relationship is stuck at the stagnating stage. If we were to see each other today, we would pick right back up. As I reflect on this relationship, it was a great one; one that I will never forget. I learned that you can have really good relationships in your younger years, and even though you may drift somewhat, you can still have love for each other. Currently, our relationship is in the Stagnating Stage. I would love for our relationship to continue, but only time will tell.


Adler, R. B. & Proctor, R. F., II. (2017). Looking out looking in, fifteen edition​ ​. Boston, MA:

Cengage Learning.

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