Relationship Trajectories: A Meta-Theoretical Framework and Theoretical Applications

Paul W. Eastwick*, Eli J. Finkel, Jeffry A. Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This article introduces a metatheoretical framework—the Relationship Trajectories Framework—that conceptualizes how human mating relationships develop across their complete time span, from the moment two people meet until the relationship ends. The framework depicts relationships as arc-shaped evaluative trajectories that vary on five dimensions: shape (which includes ascent, peak, and descent), fluctuation, threshold, composition, and density. The framework can depict single trajectories in isolation or two partners’ trajectories with respect to each other (dyadic trajectories). Two theoretical models demonstrate the generative power of the framework—the relationship coordination and strategic timing (ReCAST) model and the sociosexuality trajectory model—both of which integrate close relationships and evolutionary psychological perspectives on mating. Finally, additional examples illustrate how the framework can generate new research questions about core relationships topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Close relationships
  • evolutionary psychology
  • initial attraction
  • mating strategies
  • relationship length
  • trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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