Indirect Pursuits of Intimacy in Romantic Couples Everyday Conversations: A Discourse Analytic Approach

Neill Korobov


A discourse analytic approach was used to examine how twenty young adult romantic couples (ages 19-26) employed criticisms and insinuations of infidelity in their natural unstructured interactions to indirectly and creatively pursue closeness. The research has been motivated by an expanding arena of research that shows that ostensibly contentious interactional moments among young adult intimates may not be adversarial, but rather may be methods that promote a playful repartee that leads to affiliation. I demonstrate how criticisms are both often highly gendered and typically formulated and responded to in tongue-in-cheek, non-serious ways that involve the creative use of various forms of irony, laughter, rekeyings, abrupt non-sequiturs, and topic shifts that mitigate the potential for the criticisms to become adversarial. Similarly, the insinuations of infidelity were often designed by the couples to attend to interactional breaches. They functioned as a brief but effective way for one partner to signal that they had been dismissed or neglected in the preceding discursive turns. My central finding is that young adult romantic couples maintain closeness amidst potential conflict in their natural everyday conversational interactions.


criticisms; infidelity; discourse analysis; young adult; romantic relationships; affiliation

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Copyright (c) 2018 Neill Korobov

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