How to maintain relationships?

17. December 2015

Relationships are central to human life and had in our evolutionary past—and still have today—a crucial importance for reproductive success. Yet, relationships incur considerable maintenance costs, considering that social networks consist of a large number of ties that serve a variety of different functions. English psychologists from Chester and Oxford recently investigated how entire active personal networks changed over 18 months across a major life transition, like leaving college (Roberts & Dunbar (2015). Managing relationship decay. Human Nature, 26, 426-450). Friendships decayed faster than family relationships. The latter were maintained despite changed residential distances. Even long and intimate friendships suffered from decay. Women and men prevented relationship decay with different strategies: Women increased contact frequencies (talking together), whereas men engaged in more joint activities (“How about going fly-fishing again”?).