It's Not All Conflict: Relationship Maintenance Psychology

Jennifer L. Leo*, Saul L. Miller, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


From an evolutionary psychological perspective, the maintenance of long-term romantic relationships plays a key role in human reproductive success. At a more proximate psychological level, relationship maintenance helps foster personal happiness and social well-being. Yet, in many romantic relationships, these benefits also come with significant conflict. In the face of conflict, romantically involved individuals are equipped with an array of adaptive psychological strategies designed to help maintain their relationships. This chapter outlines several types of relationship maintenance strategies designed to protect against relationship threats. These strategies include positive biases and pro-relationship behaviors directed toward one's partner and relationship, as well as negative biases directed toward attractive relationship alternatives and intrasexual rivals. Many relationship factors, but particularly relationship commitment, play an integral role in these relationship maintenance strategies. We review evidence of relationship maintenance strategies that may have evolved to ensure the longevity of romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940653
ISBN (Print)9780195396706
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012


  • Accommodation
  • Attractive alternatives
  • Commitment
  • Forgiveness
  • Individual differences
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Rivals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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