De-Escalation and Termination of Relationships


The communication that occurs in a relationship is referred to as interpersonal and is characteristic of dissolution and deterioration in explaining the cause of breakups. In a relationship, it is vital that there is communication that is mutual and two-way. When the relationship is on the brink of termination, measures can be taken to sustain status quo. Special consultants’ help can be used to ensure that the parties do not come to a critical point where they cannot tolerate each other. The process which these consultants use to save the relationships is called de-escalation. This is the opposite of escalation that involves tension building and dissatisfaction levels increase. 


Most hitches in a relationship are mostly caused by individual differences. When an individual's conduct causes a breakup, the situation is called relationship dissolution or termination. There are two types of breakups in a relationship; these are non-marital and marital breakups (Kriesberg, 1998). Their difference is based on the way in which they are experienced, their study and the end game for them. In relationships that do not show any cooperation, conflicts arise from disagreements. This also allows for the observation of the progressive process of a relationship breaking up (Harper, 2009). The whole scenario of breakups in a relationship is felt in many relationships thus there is a need to counter this.

Key Concepts

Termination of relationships is caused by breakups. These breakups occur in two categories that form the basic breakdown process in relationships. The categories are marital and non-marital breakups that do not have the same basis in their explanation.

Non-marital breakups are vital in the understanding of patterns of grief and the nature of the issues involved. They are significant for both parties in conflict or disagreement. This is in the creation of social and personal developments, intimacy and commitment expectations in the future. Those individuals who are able to survive this type of breakup end up finding the opportunity in generosity, dignity and self-discovery. They also develop a constructive capability in recovering from the situation.

Marital breakups are different as they typically involve more negotiations, and the process of termination is usually delayed (Harper, 2009). This is caused by various inhibiting factors of the relationship that tend to make the whole process slow; such factors are called barrier forces. It is important that not all relationship breakups be considered as a failure; this is because the parties did not receive what has been expected. These expectations are basically a dictation of the society to the individuals. For instance, in a case where there was abuse in a relationship, the victim is saved from abuse by the breakups. In this case, the breakup brings a positive change into a person’s life.

The process of escalation is a result of different factors that play against relationships. It is normal that establishing a relationship, the individuals seldom think of the relationship ending. They do not consider the possibility of suffering or heartache in the termination of the partnership. The greatest contradiction is that the long term effect would be an end. Those who opt to establish a relationship are driven by their own motives thus overlook this possibility.

This process is concerned with those changes that happen in each adversary. The new forms in interaction also make part of this process of countering dissolution. It is usually after both parties have inevitably reached a situation of stale mate that the process of de-escalation comes in. They both cannot handle any longer confrontations, and in this way they may opt to negotiate (Parker, 2006).

Area of Interest

This paper studies relationships and their internal nature in conflicts, as well as their solution. The paper discusses the process of de-escalation and termination of relationships. The paper uses secondary sources of information to conduct a credible analysis of relationships and their fate. Using books as sources of secondary data provides the study with a factual basis for problem assessment.

In the process of escalation, there are different stages that help in identifying the increased emotional distance between both partners (Harper, 2009). The first one is the relationship phase. During this period, the relationship is seen to be fairly healthy although the levels of dissatisfaction increase with time. Feeling of a problem in the relationship surface and end up becoming the thoughts of leaving. It is this stage that initiates the subsequent breakdown process of partnership.

3. Articles that Talk About the Nature of Relationships

According to the analysis by Hill (1996), before starting a relationship, there is the risk of betrayal or rejection. These two risks are real and have been exhibited in many incidences of disagreements. On the other hand, these factors are countered by an individual's need to belong. In Hill's report on relationships and their fate, he studies a case where he samples two hundred and thirty one participants who have filled in the questionnaires. These individuals were couples who volunteered in the study. The results that were obtained gave interesting observations; from the total number, only a hundred and twenty eight survived for two years (Hill, 1996). The remaining group was useful in contributing towards breakup factors.

According to Hill (1996), there  exist clear factors that aid in predicting the outcome of relationships. For Hill (1996), dissimilarity that exists between the parties is a predictor. This dissimilarity is provident in terms of gender, physical attraction and education. From the study, it was seen that only those who accepted that they loved their partners stayed together while those who liked them did not. Feeling of love and liking create a feeling of dissatisfaction in a relationship if addressed inappropriately. The analyst also concludes that it is mostly when a couple faces changes in their life breakups come in. This leads to an external force that prompts for an examination which is designed to find out the likelihood of the future development of the relationship. Women have been seen to be the greatest initiators of breakups.

Considering the impact of breakups, it is known that men are more prone to emotional instability than women. According to Hill (1996), they tend to feel more lonely, depressed, less guilty, less free and unhappy. On the other hand, women are less sentimental and clingy but focus on the possibility of a better relationship. They let their conscience wonder of finding another suitable partner that can deliver what they desire. Men tend to focus on their emotional loss thus being affected more by health conditions. The reason as to why women have less negative impacts in instability is because they had more at stake in finding their suitor.

The next stage is called the intrapsychic phase. In this phase, there is little communication but the main focus is a blame game. The concerned parties struggle in looking for mistakes and faults that will satisfy their motives in blaming. They seek enough evidence that will be attributed to the suspected faults. The possibility of making wrong accusations is not considered by the wrangling party. Harper (2009) suggests that finding necessary evidence in their claims is a means of justification for their intentions to leave. For instance, the spouse might overreact to petty issues in interactions that are designed to prove their thoughts in withdrawing from the relationship. A common case is that of mistaken infidelity by their spouse.

The other phase is the dyadic phase. At this juncture, the parties bring their breakdown into the open. The intentions of leaving are thereby aired out to the partner; they might say that they are leaving or are thinking of doing so. It is at this point that the two parties face the reality of the matter at hand. This realization might prompt discussions between the spouses that are intensive in nature. Partnership gets the most attention at this stage of breakdown. In spite of this discussion, the pressure in carrying out their decisions builds up hence becoming an open issue. In most relationships, they endeavor to create internal arrangements that might better their partnership, but they fail thus resurfacing the same issues. It is this situation that pushes for an exit strategy in leaving.

For the social phase, the perspectives of the other individuals become of key importance. Other people are hence recruited in the program; they may include friends or relatives. For the social group, there might be public battles that try to find the person to blame and the appropriate cause to take in response. After this, the parties see the inevitable end in their partnership thus the next stage sets in. These third party individuals are incorporated into discussions and their counsel is heard in the effort of finding a way through their conflicts.

The last stage in this breakdown is called the grave-dressing stage. This relationship comes to its end with reasons that are perfectly in place. This is seen as a loss on one of the parties, mostly the man. According to Harvey (2009), experiencing a loss deserves some time for sorting out what has been lost in the process. The most common aftermath is grief; this is not an experience that is passive but a number of active choices for the victim. Such a person has choices that range from resolving to confrontations for prolonged pain or healing. It is usually difficult for these people to move on due to the scar of suffering in their heart.

The escalation of conflicts increases, greater threats sanctions, which are negative and harsh, are made by adversaries (Parker, 2006). The two sides suffer enormous losses, and often there is a higher degree of violence which is direct in nature. These conflicts are known to go beyond control; thus their nature is destruction. The need for strategies that will counter this process is immense.

When the process has begun, it takes a slow cause in action thus demanding a lot of effort for its success. It involves many small steps that come before any strategy in de-escalation. For Parker (2006), if the individuals are to realize a shift from war to the state of full cooperation then there has to be a number of redefinitions of the relationship. The actions must be fully coordinated as they involve both partners. The process applies approaches like de-escalation negotiations, media management and the gradual reduction in the levels of tension. On the other hand, there are other factors that also limit on escalation. For instance, institutions and conflict limiting norms are known in reducing the severity of the conflict. They prohibit using harsh tactics and encourage solving the problem as the best way in responding to any conflict. Another contributor is forums and institutions that are the third party. They all campaign against using violent approaches in conflict-resolution.

Young (2010) says that when conflicts have reached high levels of intensity, de-escalation is the only solution to reconciliation. The term conflict de-escalation speaks about the decrease in severity of the means in the play and those who are involved in the wrangles. Consequently, dimensions in conflict lessen in intensity, and the size of the conflict reduces. This process is either aimed at increasing cooperation or lessening intensity. The eventual shift does not happen in a single event but takes time to initiate changes. It applies a step by step approach thus building pressures produce this change. The main idea is making the adversaries try to work in unity to enhance cooperation. They are brought to a point of negotiations, and they are encouraged to use it fully. The next part is forming appropriate agreements that would lead to resolving the conflict. The immediate impact in this stage is a significant reduction in mistrust and hostility between the parties.

People who take the a long process in solving conflicts usually have no other option as they have reached a maximum point in destruction and intensity of conflicts (Young, 2010). It is during this time that both parties realize the need for change thus ending up in developing a new way of thinking towards their conflict. One party will eventually make gestures that are conciliatory in nature. As a result, the amount of hostility reduces; coerciveness decreases, and the urge to retaliate also reduces.

For Kriesberg (1998), each adversary is bound to encounter de-escalation the adversaries' relations. All the processes in de-escalation take place as the result of the changes in the conditions surrounding the conflict.

Processes in social-psychology can be used to achieve de-escalation. This is done through entrapment, cognitive dissonance, empathy and relationship building. The theory of cognitive dissonance states that immediately after asking conciliatory action these individuals seek justification for their actions. In the case that these actions are beneficial and reciprocated, it becomes easier to  achieve de-escalation.

The process of escalation is often fostered by entrapment and cognitive dissonance. Using entrapment can also work in limiting escalation thus promoting problem solving. What makes the process possible on such grounds is the actions that have costs on the parties (Kriesberg, 1998). Admitting that their past actions were wrong is the only way to terminate this process after such investments are made.

Empathy and sympathy play an important role in this process thus building on it and maintaining it. Sympathy is an important factor in relationships as the person is touched by personal feelings of the other (Kriesberg, 1998). Empathy is focused on assuming the role of the other individual and experiencing his/her thoughts and feelings as their own. Having these qualities is an effective way of fighting against adversity.

 Importance to the Field 

Relevance of De-escalation and Termination to Family Communication

As relationships are being built on a random basis, the thought of terminating them is hardly there. For the process of de-escalation, it provides a contingency plan for the partners as it offers a second chance for partnership. For instance, a couple that was on the brink of dissolution can restore its relationship through finding a solution in de-escalation. The family formation is promoted as there are cases of divorce or separation. A situation that incorporates barrier forces like children should be considered. This process fosters family unity and creates an ideal environment for child’s development.

It should be noted that termination of a relationship is crucial in reducing domestic abuses (Parker, 2006). For persons who are abused by their partners it is a possibility to live a life free of this cruelty. It is, therefore, a way out for better living (Parker, 2006). Trying to find a solution is advised, although the tendency of violence might not fade away and continued confrontations would worsen the situation. The social structure is determined by these processes, as well. They dictate if the society will have a new composition or not, which is done through retaining or dissolving the relationship.

Relevance of Research Articles to Family Communication

While these analysts and professional researchers conduct their studies, they provide a relaible understanding for the field. For instance, the process of de-escalation has been shown to contain vital aspects in sympathy and empathy that play a huge role in relationships and their success in prosperity. They are used in achieving a second chance in partnership. Many individuals have benefited from the process of de-escalation as they have saved their marriages and relationships thus sustaining family unity

Communication between the parties is promoted after this process. This is in improving better living standards through cooperation and unity in partnership. The aspects of living through financial hardships and social issues is bettered as there is a new character in working together. For a case of a family, they are able to interact on a new level that is better when compared to their past. Having gone through the challenges of conflicts in their relationship they are able to solve and agree on relationship challenges.


In fact, the studies conducted by various professionals in the field of relationships give vital information on the true picture in action. To family communication, these studies and research help in providing the right understanding when starting any relationship. Information that explains the reasons for trends in relationships and the factors that influence them is brought into the picture thus increasing the understanding of this phenomenon.

De-escalation builds and restores relationships but promotes social evil. For instance, it may lead to continued conflicts and confrontations for the parties involved in case no permanent solution is reached. Termination may cause emotional instability as the victim is left with emptiness. In some cases, these individuals develop changes in character and personality. They might opt to start wasting their lives drinking or end up with critical conditions like anxiety and depression. 

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