Commitment in African-American Relationships
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This study investigated commitment in the romantic relationships of 16 African-American men and women, eight men and eight women, aged 20-23. Ten participants were currently in a committed relationship and six participants were not currently in a committed relationship at the time of the study. Interdependence theory guided this qualitative study to examine how participants defined commitment, what they expected from their partners, sources that were instrumental in their development of expectations of how a partner should behave in a committed relationship, and the meanings they attached to relational alternatives, investments, rewards, costs, and barriers. Results indicated that eight relational themes defined commitment: exclusivity, honesty, being supportive, spending time, communicating, getting respect, trust, and love. In addition, two types of commitment were identified, short-term and long-term. From this sample, there was a connection between the definition of commitment and the meanings attached to relational alternatives, investments, rewards, costs, and barriers. The sources of how a partner should behave served as the context for the definition of commitment and meanings attached to alternatives, investments, rewards, costs, and barriers. Suggestions for future research on close relationships among African-Americans are discussed.