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Heidi Reeder’s Theories

Heidi Reeder has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, a Master’s from Stanford University, and a PHD from Arizona State University. Reeder is currently the associate professor in the Communications Department at Boise State University. She has been teaching at Boise State University for over ten years and has even received a Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year award. Reeder specializes in research on male and female interactions and the communication involved in love and friendship.

I examined one of Heidi’s theories which was, “Conditions that determine the fate of friendships after unrequited romantic disclosures. ” This theory was very fascinating because it compared the behaviors involved when a friend has feelings for another friend, discloses their feelings, and the other friend does not feel the same way. Heidi studied the difference in behaviors when the friendship survives after the episode versus when it fades away. The theory was studied on college aged students because this specific episode happens quite frequently to young adults.

The information that was gathered throughout the study is listed in the following pages. Conditions That Determine the Fate of Friendships After Unrequited Romantic Disclosures Background What if one discloses romantic feelings to a friend, and the other does not feel the same way? What happens to the friendship? If the person disclosing the feelings goes in with an “all or nothing” approach, the relationship will dissolve. If the person wants to maintain the relationship even if it means just being friends, the outcome could go both ways.

Usually the relationship slowly fades either way Romantic or sexual attraction by at least one partner will develop in at least 10% to 40% of cross-sex friendships One of the most common “serious communication dilemmas” which is reported by college students relates to how to disclose romantic feelings to a friend of another sex.

Research question: What behaviors differentiate friendships that dissolve after unrequited romantic disclosures from those that survive? -> In other words: What behaviors differentiate friendships that dissolve after one person confesses their feelings to another friend vs. friendships that last. The study examined friendships where one person has romantic feelings for the other friend, these feelings are disclosed, but not reciprocated. -the study covers how best to express feelings and communicate them, in order to remain friends afterwards if the feelings are not reciprocated

Method: open ended questionnaire reported in two main parts Part 1: Part 2 (3 subparts) a, b, c. Each participant reported via questionnaire on these topics Participant disclosed romantic inclinations; partner’s feelings were platonic (no romantic feelings); friendship lasted Partner disclosed romantic inclinations; participant’s feelings were platonic; friendship lasted. Participant disclosed romantic inclinations; partner’s feelings were platonic; friendship dissolved Partner disclosed romantic inclinations; participant’s feelings were platonic; friendship dissolved -Part 1: Each person was asked to recall one recent instance of one of the four situations above. They were asked to explain in open-ended fashion, what they believe to be the main factors that were responsible for the friendship either lasting or dissolving.

Part 2. Participants were asked yes or no questions relating to the four target situations, within the past 3 years. Results The platonic partner’s (one without feelings) active pursuit of the friendship was fairly strong in friendships that lasted. For dissolved friendships, the platonic partner’s pursuit of the friendship apparently was relatively weak. Conditions that are perceived as having a “positive” effect on the fate of the friendships after romantic disclosure from one friend, when it was not reciprocated from the other.

Romantically inclined partner) Actively pursued the friendship Honestly wanted to remain friends Accepted that the feelings were not mutual (Platonically inclined partner) Actively perused friendship Honestly wanted to remain friends Was able to accept the asymmetry (Friendship Itself) Solid friendship Open communication before the episode Conditions which have a “negative effect” on the friendship (Platonically inclined partner) Was embarrassed or awkward after the disclosure Felt pressured to change after the episode

Seemed to have “led on” his/her partner before the disclosure (Romantically Inclined Partner) a. Was embarrassed or uncomfortable after the episode Was hurt that the feelings were not mutual Appeared to have continued to push for a romantic relationship Continued to hope that his or her partner would develop romantic feelings Conclusion: -Friendships either survive or dissolve as a result of particular behaviors between each person -The awkwardness of the situation leads to a dissolution of the friendship, even when both partners would have preferred otherwise Since there is no social script to guide a person’s behavior during these episodes, it makes it really difficult for each person to react, and they may respond in the wrong way in the moment of things.

-Depending on the particular behavior the relationship may dissolve. -Sometimes partners improvise behaviors, which can save the friendship Suggestions from the study if the friendship is to be maintained: Pursue the friendship and make it clear that maintaining it is important to you. Verbally reaffirming the friendship Dropping episode from further discussion Make it clear that you have accepted and can handle the asymmetry situation

Verbally acknowledge acceptance of the asymmetry through disclosure Dropping the matter Try not to manifest discomfort or embarrassment If you were the romantically inclined partner try to avoid your partner’s perception that you are pressuring him or her toward romantic feelings. This can be facilitated by reducing flirting, accepting the partner’s interest in others, and abandoning romantic intention. Heidi’s theory was very interesting to me because I have encountered a few episodes where a guy friend confesses his feelings for me, and the feelings were not mutual.

These situations can be awkward for both people in the friendship, and there is not an exact script of what to say and what not to say, which can be difficult. I definitely learned how to overcome the awkwardness through reading Hedi’s study. I learned that open communication in the friendship is very important, along with actively pursuing the relationship, especially if both people want the friendship to last. I will apply this theory to my personal life, as well as use it as a source to help friends in a similar situation.

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