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A framework for incorporating the influence of cultural variability into theories of communication in interpersonal relationships is presented and several hypotheses derived from the framework tested. Data from two studies conducted with samples from Japan and the United States revealed that variation along Hofstede's (1980) dimensions of culture are related to intimacy ratings of relationship terms, as well as perceptions of the degree of personalization, synchrony, and difficulty of communication associated with relationships anchored by six specific terms (stranger, acquaintance, classmate, friend, best friend, and lover). Implications of the framework and findings for developing cross-culturally generalizable theories of communication are elaborated.