The extraordinary importance of personal relationships to the health and happiness of human beings hardly can be overstated. From the time they are born, humans crave love and intimacy and the joy of knowing that they are valued and cherished by others. However, personal relationships are neither straightforward nor easy to understand and manage. Modern industrialized societies, with their emphasis on personal advancement, mobility, and adaptability, present a particularly challenging context for meaningful, long-term personal relationships to develop and flourish. Inevitably, people will experience rejection and loneliness at various times in their lives; close, loving relationships will sour and fall apart; relationship partners will experience discrepant needs and desires; and intentionally or not, relationship partners will hurt one another, neglect one another, and make one another miserable. Understanding how personal relationships are initiated, developed, maintained, and terminated is one of the core issues in psychology and is the subject matter of this book. In particular, contributions to the volume seek to explore and integrate the subtle influence that evolutionary, sociocultural, and intrapsychic (i.e., cognitive, affective, and motivational) variables play in relationship processes. Despite their centrality to human existence, scientific interest in the whys and wherefores of personal relationships is relatively recent.
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