ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Friendships and Intimate Relationships: Relationship Types, Attachment Styles, and Satisfaction Theories

Updated on September 12, 2016

Fight or Flight

Relationships-The Beautiful Struggle

When asked what made them happy, many respondents answered that having friends and other positive relationships was at the top of their list (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010). Relationships are what get us through our days. Imagine the person with whom you have the closest relationships. Can you imagine life without them?

In the article below, intimate relationships are discussed, including exchange and communal relationships, attachment styles, and three theories of relationship satisfaction. The beautiful struggle that is relationships; are they worth it?

Exchange Versus Communal Relationships

Intimate relationships develop of the basis of attraction (Aronson et al., 2010). Did you choose your significant other based on looks? The five factors that influence personal attraction are proximity, reciprocal liking, physical attractiveness, similarity, and evolution, which consists of the partner being able to reproduce (Aronson et al.). Once attraction brings two people together, what happens next? Read on to find out!

In exchange type relationships, the individuals in the relationship exchange benefits evenly (Aronson et al., 2010). When one person provides a favorable action or behavior, the other is expected to reciprocate (Aronson et al.). For instance, if one partner offers a back rub to the other, the one who offered, is expecting a favorable action in return, such as a massage or foot rub. The problem here is that partners keep track of their efforts, and feel neglected or taken advantage of when they are exerting more than they are getting in return (Aronson et al.).

In communal relationships, partners do things for the other without the need or expectation of repayment. Partners fulfill the other’s needs, and do not care whether or not they are paid back (Aronson et al., 2010). Following the example above, in this case, if one partner gives a back rub to the other, it is done out of kindness, and nothing is expected in return. Communal relationships are expected to be long lasting and intimate (Aronson et al.). These relationships are hard, because we have to be willing to give up our selfish desires. I don't know about you, but I would rather have my back rubbed then give a back rub! Speaking of back rubs, when I receive one, my husband uses this amazing tingler on my scalp, and it is worth a million bucks! It makes my whole body tingle, and for the price, it can't be beat!

Attachment Styles

Attachment styles refer to “the expectations people develop about relationships with others, based on the relationship they had with their primary caregiver when they were infants” (Aronson et al., 2010, p. 284). There are three different styles, and those are secure, avoidant, and anxious or ambivalent (Aronson et al.). Attachment styles have an impact on the level of intimacy shared in friendships in relationships. Those who grew up with the secure attachment style, for instance, are expected to have mature, long-lasting relationships with their partner (Aronson et al.). Those with the avoidant attachment style, on the other hand, have a hard time developing intimate, close relationships (Aronson et al.). Last, those with the anxious or ambivalent attachment style spend much of their time worrying. Though they crave closeness, they worry that their partner does not return the strong feelings they have for him or her (Aronson et al.).

Social Exchange Theory

Relationships are easier to maintain when the couple has similar attitudes (Aronson et al., 2010). This is because having similar attitudes helps the individuals in the relationship to feel that spending time together is worthwhile and satisfying (Aronson et al.). People also feel satisfied when they are around someone who likes them (Aronson et al.). In terms of the social exchange theory, how people sense a relationship depends on their “perceptions of the rewards they receive from it, their perceptions of the costs they incur, and their beliefs regarding what kind of relationship they deserve” (Aronson et al., p. 287). Relationships are more likely to last when the social rewards outweigh the costs (Aronson et al.). On the other hand, a relationship is more likely to end when the relationship experiences more turmoil than praise or validation (Aronson et al.).

My husband and I spend most of our time dealing with our children, but when we aren't we like to play games together for fun! Neither one of us are board game people, but went out and bought one when we were stuck in a hotel one night, and have been addicted ever since! They cause much needed laughter and bring us close together, a feeling we miss when we are ships passing in the night.


Battle of the Sexes Adult Board Game - Funny Card Games for Adults - Trivia Game Pitting the Men Against the Women - Great for Parties and Couples' Night - 2 or More Players - Ages 16 and Up
Battle of the Sexes Adult Board Game - Funny Card Games for Adults - Trivia Game Pitting the Men Against the Women - Great for Parties and Couples' Night - 2 or More Players - Ages 16 and Up
The only real point to this game is fun. I highly recommend it if you and your significant other are looking for some humor or laughing.


Hasbro Risk Game: Global Domination
Hasbro Risk Game: Global Domination
We play this when the kids go to bed early and we are tired of sitting there watching TV every night. It actually gets good conversation going, and we don't just play for fun! To spice it up, play for back rubs or dates. I am typically the winner, so I have gotten a few foot massages and a movie night where I got to pick the movie off this game!

Equity Theory

Different from the social exchange theory, the equity theory highlights the need for fairness in relationships (Aronson et al., 2010). The equity theory believes that people in relationships want the rewards they experience to be equal to the rewards the other person in the relationship experiences (Aronson et al.). It is thought that equitable relationships are the most rewarding and stable (Aronson et al.). Relationships are maintained when both parties feel an equal amount of rewards from the relationship. On the other hand, relationships end when one partner is feeling over benefited, and the other is feeling under benefited (Aronson et al.). What that means is that one person is getting most of the rewards and yet incurring few costs, while the other is not getting many rewards, but sustaining many costs (Aronson et al.).

Penetration Theory

The social penetration theory refers to the corresponding actions that take place between a couple in the expansion of a mutual relationship (Taylor, 1968). The behaviors in reference include an interchange of little details such as viewpoints or values, an interchange of emotions bearing positive or negative affect, and mutual activities such as athletics or reading (Taylor). Relationships start off much like friendships, as two individuals take time getting to know one another. This is when casual conversations take place, before private and personal matters become the topic of discussion (Taylor). Relationships are maintained when the couple can predict the emotional reactions of one another and important matters can be discussed (Taylor). Relationships end, however, when costs exceed the benefits and there is a withdrawal of disclosure (Taylor).

Are You Thinking About Your Relationship?

Relationships are everywhere, and there are many different types. Two different types along with theories on satisfaction in relationships were discussed above. Exchange relationships versus communal relationships was one concept explored. Also explored were three different attachment styles; secure, avoidant, and anxious or ambivalent. Last, the three theories were social exchange theory, equity theory, and penetration theory.

Are you in a committed relationship? Maybe you just have a best friend, mom, sibling that you care for. Either way, relationships are a meaningful part of this life, and they are worth holding on to. Work hard, and remember, all relationships take work.


If you could be granted someone to spend the rest of your life with or endless money until you die, which would you choose?

See results

Does Your Relationship Look Like This?


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)