Relationship Maintenance in the Age of Technology

John P. Caughlin, Ningxin Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines how computers and smartphones are used with (or instead of) face-to-face (F2F) interactions for relationship maintenance. After explicating two different definitions of the phrase “relationship maintenance,” we summarize research on the role of particular communication technologies in relationship maintenance. We argue that much contemporary relationship maintenance in romantic relationships occurs in mixed-media relationships, which occur when the “parties conduct in whole or in part through the use of multiple media, including F2F” (Parks). The primary focus of this chapter is on the maintenance of romantic relationships, yet we also review research on other types of relationships when the processes examined seem applicable to close relationships more broadly. We conclude with several important points for future research on relational maintenance and communication technologies, including recognizing that (a) even though technologies can help people maintain their relationships, they also can create burdens and problems; (b) the way people use technologies influences the effects of those technologies in relationships; (c) there is a need for more research on the specific behaviors using technologies in romantic relationships; and (d) even with the rise of communication technologies, face-to-face maintenance behaviors remain important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRelationship Maintenance
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Process, and Context
EditorsBrian G Ogolsky, J Kale Monk
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781108304320
ISBN (Print)9781108419857
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Personal Relationships


  • Communication interdependence
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Long-distance relationships
  • Media multiplexity
  • Mixed-media relationships
  • Mobile communication
  • Multimodality
  • Relational maintenance
  • Smartphones
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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