15 Close Relationships

Personality and Social Psychology


  1. Margaret S. Clark PhD1,
  2. Nancy K. Grote PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop205015

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Clark, M. S. and Grote, N. K. 2012. Close Relationships. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:II:15.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Yale University, Department of Psychology, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

  2. 2

    University of Washington, School of Social Work, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Close relationships are defined as those relationships in which people assume more responsibility for the welfare of their partner than they do for others, benefit those partners noncontingently, and seek noncontingent benefits from those partners. The wide variety of ways in which people can be responsive to one another and can seek responsiveness from one another are described. They can provide help, support goal striving, celebrate a partner's accomplishments and intentionally refrain from taking actions that might harm the other and convey support symbolically. Determinants of desiring close relationships and ways of initiating them are outlined. Intra- and interpersonal processes that, ideally, characterized established close relationships are described. Close relationships vary in the degree of responsibility members assume for one another. Also, each close relationship a person has should be viewed in the context of the nature of other close relationships the person has, including the relationship the person has with him- or herself. Responding to the needs of some partners (and the self's needs) will take precedence over responding to the needs of others. In some strong, close relationships the needs of the other may take precedence over one's own needs. It is in the strongest of close relationships that most sacrifices and most acts of forgiveness will take place. Finally, impediments to forming and maintaining ideal close relationships are identified.


  • responsiveness;
  • communal strength;
  • communal hierarchies;
  • commitment;
  • relationship formation