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Relationship communication often depends upon the stage of development the relationship is in. Mark Knapp & Anita Vangelisti describe 5 stages in which intimate relationship are both built and terminated. Relationships follow a stair step-type progression with different communication styles in each level. Not all relationships will lead to the "top" of the pyramid; it is possible for a relationship to begin the process of termination at any step of the way. Scroll down to view the relationship development model and click on each level for a more detailed description.


Initiating: in this stage we can expect participants to display their positive qualities and check each other's initial reations to those qualities.


Experimenting: here we use small talk to reduce uncertainty about each other.


Intensifying: communication is characterize by self disclosure and is tentative, hesitant and probing.


Integrating: in this stage togetherness is developed to the point where simularities are vigorously cultivated.


Bonding: is the performance of a public ritual (such as marriage) to signify the relationship.


Differentiating: begins with the preference for and use of "I" statements over "we" statements which assist in separating the identities of the two individuals.


Circumscribing: communication indicates barriers and distance as the individuals work to limit the quality and quantity of their contact with each other.


Stagnating: the relationship remains motionless and communication becomes monotonous and meaningless.


Avoiding: in the stage the individuals design ways to avoid each other.


Terminating: the formal end of the relationship (such as a break up or divorce).



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