An evolutionary, life history theory perspective on relationship maintenance

Ethan S. Young, Jeffry A. Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Relationship maintenance is a central topic in relationship science. Most relationship scholars examine relationship maintenance at the proximate level of causation by examining how variables such as immediate threats to a relationship or an individual’s degree of commitment elicit the motivation to maintain it. Far less attention has been granted to distal factors, such as each partner’s developmental history or the possible evolutionary origins of relationship maintenance tendencies. The primary goal of this chapter is to shed clarifying light on these understudied levels of analysis by viewing relationship maintenance processes from an evolutionary-developmental perspective. We first review two central evolutionary frameworks (the Strategic Pluralism Model and Life History Theory) and integrate them within a single model called Developmental Strategic Pluralism. Drawing from this novel framework, we derive a set of testable predictions regarding relationship maintenance processes with the ultimate goals of contextualizing proximate relationship processes within evolutionary thinking and stimulating new avenues for future research in this rapidly growing area of relationship science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRelationship Maintenance
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Process, and Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781108304320
ISBN (Print)9781108419857
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Development
  • Evolution
  • Life history theory
  • Mating strategies
  • Relationship maintenance


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