Monthly Archives: April 2018

Relationship Management

Introduction

The management of relationships has been a facet of business for as long as business transactions have existed. On the most basic level, Relationship Management is about interaction with customers. From a broader perspective one can consider employees, suppliers and consumers as customers, the employees being the internal customers of the organization. Relationship Management deals with the treatment and management of partnerships, connections, linkages and chains between business entities.

For the purposes of this paper, we view Relationship Management (RM) as a conscious and planned activity. It would be misleading to suggest that there have not been relationships in business or any focus on relationships by companies. However, the thrust of RM, as expounded in recent times, points to a more tactical and strategic approach to focusing on the customer rather than a relentless focus on the competition.

After the economic downturn of the 90s, many companies started to examine the possible benefits to be gained from less negotiation strong-arming, closeness to suppliers and the establishment of constructive relationships with strategic stakeholders. This does not suggest that RM was founded in the US, or has not existed before then; the Japanese had perfected RM and value-concretisation into an art form on the basis of social structure and communal creed.

RM itself has not just many types but many levels. The manufacturer has his suppliers and the end users as his customers; the retailer has the manufacturers and the end users as his customers, and manufacturer, the supplier and every organization with a tactical or strategic agenda have internal customers.

Literature Review

There have been several different sub types of Relationship Management introduced by writers, marketers and business pundits, starting from the most widely known Customer Relationship Management (Buttle, 2004; Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004) to Customer Centricity (Gummesson, 2008); Collaborative Customer Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004); Supply Chain Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004), Integrated Supply Chain Relationship Management (Kracklauer, Mills & Seifert, 2004), and so on. Hines (2006) delineates three types of relationships: the strategic alliance, the functional partnership and the one-sided partnerships. Donaldson & O’Toole (2007) outlines four types of relationships: partnership, friendship, adversarial and detachment. Our discussion here centres on four components of Customer Relationship Management: Customer Identification, Customer Attraction, Customer Retention and Customer Development; all of which, for the purposes of this paper, we shall consider all of these under the blanket term Relationship Management; Relationship Marketing, the management of, not the cooperation with customers; the latter being the job of relationship management, is not within the scope of this paper but since from a conceptual perspective, the difference between the two may not be as simplistic and marked, it may be mentioned or discussed in passing.

Traditionally, RM was an activity (or non-activity) that involved an electronic customer database of an organisation’s customers or consumers,which reports on consumer buying behaviour. Contemporarily, RM delves much deeper than this: undertaking intensive research on customers and customer behaviour and using the result of such research to (re)design business culture. RM, at its strategic level, advocates for a business culture with a concentrated focus on the customer rather than on the products or the sales, but what seems to be the biggest trump card of and in RM is loyalty. The customer-centric concentration in business relationships in recent times has forced a move towards shared goals and shared benefits, and for this to work there has to be commitment; each party being committed to their personal objectives but also to the shared goals; each party having the competence to carry out their responsibilities and believing and relying, having a confident and positive expectation that the other party will act within the ambits of the agreement.

The focus on the customer (which is the basis for a relational existence) runs across certain concepts: price, quality, innovation, reliability of product, reliability of associated service and brand reputation. On the proven premise that it is easier and cheaper to retain a customer than to attain a new one or regain a lost one, customer RM on the concepts already discussed should be the goal of the contemporary business.

Different types of RM have been identified, ranging from the transactional, the collaborative and the formation of alliances, which is also known as partnerships or value-added exchanges. The alliance is a partnership with suppliers that involves a mutual beneficiary arrangement where cost-cutting ventures are jointly addressed by both buyer and seller, the seller being considered an extension of the buyer’s organization. The business relationship between Japanese suppliers using JIT is a good example. For example Toyota holds a strong alliance even with its 3rd tier vendors. The result of such partnerships means added value, reduced production and transport costs, a more seamless supply and delivery network, and maintenance of exceptional quality, as per TQM considerations.

Traditionally, companies were preoccupied with rigorous competition, firm-induced and firm-controlled business strategies, focus on short-term profits and strategies and independent decision-making. This transactional existence meant a focus more on the competition than the customer, a concentration on short-term profits rather than long-term strategic gains and likelihood to be blind to opportunities for expansion and change. Today’s strategically-minded companies are pre-occupied with partnership with other firms, collaboration and coaction, boundarylessness, joint decision-making and a focus on long term benefits. With today’s business climate, one can easily foresee a rapidly changing business environment where manufacturers will have the most fruitful partnerships with every member of the supply chain and the consumers, a scenario where the manufacturer will run a ‘virtual factory’ with the effective and efficient use of value chain networks unlimited by geographical location or consideration.

RM functions on a strategic, a tactical and an operational level. Businesses that are product-oriented ensure effective performance of their products, in the design, the features and output; the production-oriented business (not to be confused with the product-oriented) believe in mass production at a cheap scale on the notion that the customer uses low-price as a singular consideration; sales-oriented businesses put a lot of stock in advertising, promotions and public relations while the customer-centric enterprise strives to understand its customers preferences and purchasing behaviour and models its business activities to suit this. This is considered strategic RM. The operational level deals with automating the customer management process using computer applications and devices across market, sales force and service categories. Tactical RM deals with using the data from customer management computer applications to add value both to the customer and the company.

While it would be immensely useful to run a customer database to keep the organization in sync with full information with its customers, RM especially from a strategic perspective delves deeper than mere software; it deals with a ‘pull’ strategy, letting the wants and needs of the customer dictate what products and services are offered, rather than the other way round, using a production-oriented strategy to ‘push’ products and services that the consumers may or may not need, but which does not ultimately satisfy the customer.

Companies generate more revenue when they satisfy – and because of this retain- their customers. It is hereby propounded that the simple economic fact that customer retention is cheaper than customer attraction provides the customer with an intrinsic importance to business performance than anything else.

The Customer

Discussions on RM, or even relationship marketing, cannot be possible with the exclusion of the word ‘customer’. The customer is the object – and sometimes also the subject – of RM. Attainment of an effective RM is consistent upon customer satisfaction, customer retention, customer loyalty and a host of sub-concepts preceded by the word ‘customer’.

But while it is known what the customer represents, it is not always known who the customer is or how many different representations of the customer we have.

A vehicle manufacturer for example will have its suppliers of raw material in tiers, its distribution partners, and the actual end users. From a business point of view, all these are customers and even though there is only a single set of consumers. The basis of the RM between these different customers (and even between different sub-levels of customers – supplier tiers for instance) could be immense. Customer Relationship Management in its true sense may refer only to the end users or consumers in this case, for the attraction and retention schemes may not apply to first tier suppliers, though development will, albeit from a different perspective.

In business, the customer therefore is not someone who pays for goods and services; it is evidently a unit that has some considerable stake – not stock- in the business and whose input contributes in one way or another to the bottom line. By the same token, the employees in an organization are customers; internal customers. Paradoxically, so are senior management; and middle and junior management. On the concept of ‘keiretsu’, the Japanese takes the word ‘customer’ to a disparate level. Kaoru Ishikawa, one of the top five Quality Management gurus, supersedes that when he suggests that ‘the next process is your customer’ as an appropriate maxim for the drive towards customer satisfaction. For Ishikawa, the customer is not merely an object, it becomes an activity, a process, a goal.

Supply Chain Relationship Management

From a supply chain management perspective, RM is centred on the chief players: the manufacturer and the supplier. There may be several suppliers, several tiers of suppliers and several types of suppliers (retailers, resellers, etc). There would obviously be the end user. Of major importance is the relationship between manufacturer and principal suppliers.

Three major types of relationship types in the supply chain are hereby identified: the adversarial, the transactional and the strategic. Both sets of authorities on the subject hold that the transactional relationship (as opposed to the relational variety) has a transactional rather than a partnership focus; is competition rather than collaboration-oriented; is firm-benefiting as opposed to being partnership-profitable; is independent and therefore myopic rather than interdependent and is viable only for the short term.

Strategically, it is the relational type that is considered a partnership. The traditional partnership is that between the manufacturer and its principal supplier(s). There are also lateral partnerships, between competitors; buyer partnerships between firms and eventual and/or intermediate customers; internal partnerships which refer to the concept of the internal customership within organizations and across functional departments.

A relationship is considered adversarial where there is fear, threats (whether tacit or overt) and coercion (whether esoteric or actual). In the automotive manufacturing business for example, a manufacturer can have an adversarial relationship with suppliers if the bargaining power of the manufacturer is considerable in a case where a good percentage of the supplier’s products are purchased by the one manufacture or a chain of them. In such cases, the manufacturer attempts to attain value by pursuing only its own interests; being strategically independent (rather than interdependent); communicating unilaterally; influencing decisions using force or the threat of force; using competitive bidding rather than establish strategic relationships with few suppliers; and entrench all discussions, agreements, terms and conditions in detailed formal contracts.

For the most part, RM in the supply chain is vertical, as partnerships are built with firms along the value chain. Some companies do not realize any value because their customer/consumer RM is kept separate from their supplier relationship management; for supply chain networks to thrive effectively, establishing partnerships is simply a means, not the end itself. The mere establishment of partnerships does not suggest a collective move towards a shared goal. For that to be existent, the partnerships must be collaborative. Collaboration involves significant investment of those involved incorporation mutual understanding, shared vision, shared resources, united goal achievement, trust, trustworthiness and complete functional interdependence.

Culture and Relationship Management

Culture refers to the way things are done and have been done in an organization or social setting for a considerable period. Culture determines behaviour patterns; it is integrated into the behavioural framework of a person or a group of people; it is the result of not only learned, but acquired behaviour patterns, and it is a collection of behaviour, attitudes, character traits, convictions and belief shared by a group of people.

Cultural differences could not only limit the functional success of relationships, it could derail the effectiveness of RM, or terminate it completely. Cultural differences cover personality traits, gender differences, geographical, social and business disparities. Social culture defines how people manage relationships, and effectively therefore, to what extent relationships can be properly managed. Corporate culture issues aptly capture the issue of RM and the extent to which relationships can be successful across two or more firms: The essence of corporate culture is an organization’s conviction about how its business is to be enacted. Then there is culture based on geography; Country culture determines corporate culture(s) to a large extent. One of the main determiners of country and corporate culture may be the extent to which people treasure personal relationships. While the long-standing relationship of two firms in Asia may be maintained primarily because of some earlier personal connection, the long-standing relationship of two firms in the US may be maintained primarily on the betterment of the bottom line of both firms. While using coercion as a conduit for good RM may be an effective negotiating strategy in the US for example, it may be considered grave disrespect in many parts of Asia and may lead to the premature severance of a good business relationship.

From a country culture perspective, it has been suggested that the French are not interested in whether they are liked; the Americans are impatient and negotiate to tie up every loose end, as opposed to the Chinese who negotiate solely to build a better relationship, not to tie up loose ends all at once, since as far as they are concerned negotiations never end; the Italians and Germans never offer praise before they criticize; the Indians feel that interruptions during discussions is a way of fostering more understanding; the Americans are said to talk too much and would ask personal questions which people from other cultures may find distasteful. These classifications may be too generic and type-casted, but if they are to be accepted (or even tolerated) as factual, then it is but natural that customer relationship management with have different results and outcomes in different countries with disparate cultures and different people. As a prerequisite to effective management of relationships therefore, a useful understanding of personal and social attitudes and expectations of the other parties may help the partnership.

‘Guanxi’ is a Chinese cultural way of interacting and managing relationships in business. It encourages supply chains and networks based on interactions and negotiations between family members, friends and people of trust. Anyone outside this circle of trust is likely to be treated with suspicion at best, and hostility at worst. In the management of relationships between international firms for instance, a subject who does not fall within that circle of trust is likely to have zero limit to manoeuvrability in negotiations and discussions. The giving of gifts which is an essential element of ‘Guanxi’ may be viewed upon as unethical or improper by another party or potential partner.

It may be easy to suggest that the establishment of relationships should not in any way be affected by culture. However, if cultural issues are likely to limit the organizations ability to manipulate or manoeuvre in business relationships, it means that realization, identification and modification of the cultural issues should be a valid point in the establishment of set objectives for the effective management of meaningful business relationships. Capon (2004) seems to concur when she says that ‘everyone lives culture, but only the clever are able to manage it’.

For RM to be successful, there has to be a constant supply of reliability between and among all parties. Every party to the relationship should have the confidence that the other party is in a position to deliver as promised, and will. This is where the issue of trust comes in. Trust is one of the most important antecedent to a successful business partnership; in the realm of retailing, many repeat purchases and purchase considerations are made based on product trust, store trust, brand trust or a combination of these.

Trust and Relationship Management

Many attempts have been made to define or (failing which, to) describe the apparently elusive concept of trust. Plenty definitions have been offered, some have been markedly different, but most have been consistent on the central issue: that trust is the anticipation by one that the other will not take undue advantage. Trust is an expectation that another will not take undue advantage; it is the chosen susceptibility of one party to be vulnerable to the possible unfairness and selfishness of another; it is the belief in the integrity of another person and party; it exists only where there is risk and uncertainty which connotes that the concept of trust is linked with the likelihood of opportunism by one or more parties. Undertaking to trust therefore is synonymous to undertaking the management of risk.

The thrust in all of the definitions are basically the same; that trust is an anticipation of behaviour or actions based on stated or tacit agreement that another party will not act in its own interests. While the definitions are consistent, the treatment of the concept, the construct and its relationship to management theory and practice seem to differ. There has been very little empirical research to verify how trust functions in business or what determines trust.

Models, Types and Constructs of Trust

There have been myriad views on the models, types and constructs of trust. There are three types of trust: deterrence-based (trust that exists on the basis that opportunism will have dire consequences); knowledge-based (trust based on predictable actions) and identification-based (trust based on emotional association between the parties). Similarly, there are 3 sources of trust: process-based (trust which is based on an exchange relationship of considerable longevity); characteristic-based (trust based on social or other group characteristic) and institutional-based (the inducement of trust by social institutions.

Trust is based on 5 cognitive processes: the calculative process; the prediction process – which is the same as calculative except that the analysis here is more qualitative than quantitative; capability process; the intentionality process – the assessment of the motives and intentions of the other party; and the transference process – situation where trust is based on a trusted reference from a third party.

The processes outlined here do not necessarily challenge the conceptual theories of; rather they represent disparate viewpoints based on environment and whether trust is being viewed as a social or a business construct, and whether these are mutually exclusive. It would seem that the intentionality process is a little redundant; the interpretation of the intentions of the trustee could be analysed under the calculative or the prediction process.

The deeper the examination of trust as a concept and as an intrinsic integer in business practice, the more elusive it seems to become. If the contracts, agreement or legal implications, which we can call ‘governance devices’, do exist, then it follows that these devices were created because one or both parties do not trust each other. This does not refer to distrust, but an absence of trust. Nascent literature has propounded that an absence of trust by a trustor could be based on the fact that the trustor knows nothing about the trustee and has decided therefore not to take the risk of trusting. Since this does not mean that the trustor’s absence of trust was based on knowledge and/or experience of the trustee’s actions, it is not distrust, but an absence of trust.

Relationships and Trust

These two concepts are not the same, but in today’s business environment, the discussion of one brings out the other. Unlike relationships which just exist, trust is not a given. Trust, like respect which it incorporates, is earned; thus trust cannot exist without trustworthiness, which is the ability to earn trust, the capability of being trusted. Trustworthiness is rooted in the believer’s trust that the other party possesses integrity, values and a good sense of ethics, and therefore can be trusted. Trustworthiness has to be fathered, to be engendered by firms and organizations themselves, and this, by running the organization using a visible set of values and ethics. Trust and distrust are to be understood as one ‘bipolar construct’, diametrically existing in a continuum.

Areas for Further Research

As a firm that claims to live on customer satisfaction and successful relationship management as its key to competitive advantage, Toyota does not expect the total absence of errors though it continuously drives towards it. The Toyota Production System does provide several modes of detection and fixing of errors as they occur, but not all errors are fixed, mainly because not all errors are readily visible or apparent.

The cases of the sticky gas pedals, obstructive floor mats and the Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) are cases in points. A gas pedal as a component may not have been sticky up to when the car is driven and tested at Toyota’s plants, nor would any unexpected acceleration show itself. Nonetheless it is a manufacturing error that Toyota has addressed and has recalled vehicles to replace the faulty components at Toyota’s own cost. This does not mean that customers may easily forget or that their trust goes unaffected, especially since the death of an entire family in a Lexus crash after SUA occurred but these mishaps may have dented (not destroyed) the brand loyalty and trust of the world’s foremost car maker, if the customer assesses that the satisfaction considerably outweighs the errors. The recall of vehicles and Toyota’s promise to replace all defective gas pedals may suggest an innate concern for customers.

A New Crisis for Relationships

‘Sexting’… So what is it anyway? ‘Sexting’ by definition is sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos by mobile phones or other social media. This is a trend that has increased steadily through the years as more and more people have utilized phones as their main method of communication. In fact, 88% of adults have engaged in some kind of ‘sexting’ within the context of a relationship according to a paper called: “Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior.” 2

Is ‘sexting’ more common than we believe or are these research studies just turning up coincidences with this type of behavior? Emily Stasko, at Drexel’s University in Philadelphia, surveyed 870 heterosexual individuals and found that more ‘sexting’ was associated with a higher level of sexual satisfaction. 2

These are just two studies, you might say, and don’t represent the population at large. Well, another way to look at this is that technology is something that most people (in larger cities or suburban areas) concentrate on daily. People are very involved with social media on mobile phones, computers & tablets. They are using these social media applications for various reasons (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc). Is there any reason to think, even for a minute, that people are not using technology to date or enhance their present relationships? People all over the country (and the world) have access to texting/messaging, social media, and video chatting (Facetime, Viper, etc.). It is extremely easy to use any of these modalities in the context of a relationship.

So how do people view ‘sexting?

The problem is that not everyone defines ‘sexting’ the same way. Is it the sending of sexually explicit or provocative messages? Is it primarily the sending of sexual images? Some people see it as one, the other or even as both. This has been unclear because there have been various opinions about the subject. ‘Sexting’ may not be limited to just messaging but could also include the use of Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Facetime, as well as, other social media platforms. This could also mean sending sexually explicit video or showing nude body parts while video conferencing. This complicates matters even more and broadens the current definition.

Most people have really warmed up to the idea of ‘sexting’ and according to the research, previously cited, a very high number of people have engaged (and continue to engage) in this behavior. These research studies and surveys have focused on how ‘sexting’ can improve relationships and rekindled sex lives. However, there is a darker side as well. This article focuses on those individuals that use ‘sexting’ as a way of seeking excitement, sex, and/or attention outside of their present relationship. The lines are sometimes blurred with regards to virtual or internet relationships because they are not viewed as being “real.”

Is ‘Sexting’ outside of a relationship considered cheating?

That is a good question. We already know that ‘sexting’ or sending these sexually provocative messages can really enhance a committed relationship. However, what happens when people send these types of messages outside of a committed relationship? How is ‘sexting’ viewed among the general population?

“A 2013 Huffington Post article of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 85 percent of women and 74 percent of men consider ‘sexting’ a form of cheating.” 1

‘Sexting’ outside a relationship can be exciting especially for those individuals that are looking for ‘that extra something’ in their lives. Perhaps these individuals love their spouses or partners but seem to have ‘lost’ the passion or excitement in their relationship. For other individuals, maybe they are looking to find someone else online or in a virtual sense (i.e. via texting, online websites or other media) that they can flirt with and is considered “safe.” That could fall into the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” scenario. A person may be very happy or mostly satisfied with their partner but think that they might be able to find something better outside their relationship.

Other scenarios could include men or women that seem to feel as if they are invisible to their partners or spouses due to over demanding careers, children, mental illness, physical illness, alcoholism, etc. These individuals may find that through ‘sexting’ with a 3rd party that they can feel loved, desired and even sexy. It is through this media (and possibly other reasons) that people justify their actions and tell themselves that they are not cheating because there is no physical relationship.

Is this behavior wrong? Is it cheating? There are various reasons why an individual may decide to engage in ‘sexting’ outside of his/her relationship but what is the intention exactly? Some people may believe that due to the virtual nature of ‘sexting’ that it isn’t necessarily wrong. ‘Sexting’ doesn’t have to involve physical contact and it could just be chalked down to a simple fantasy (or something that they don’t intend to pursue). It may have started as something very innocuous (like work-related messages sent to a colleague, coworker or fellow student) but then it moved forward to a more sexual type of relationship.

However if a person is deleting texts, hiding cell phone bills, or being secretive about this virtual relationship then it seems that he/she has become more involved with someone other than a spouse or partner. This person is now thinking about another person, sending pictures to that person, and possibly wishing he/she could spend time with that other person. If we are looking at the health of a marriage or relationship, any time someone else becomes involved, that health has now been compromised. We could also argue that the commitment toward the relationship or marriage has waned because of the 3rd party that is now part of the equation.

Case Examples:

Maria and Thomas (not their real names) have been married for 3 years but have been together for about 12 years. Thomas had been dealing with anxiety issues for his whole life but had developed a drinking habit to numb the intense feelings that he dealt with on a daily basis. This drinking problem had become so bad where Maria had found him passed out on the couch a few times after work and he spent a good amount of time drinking with colleagues. This situation caused her to feel very detached and distrustful of Thomas. She didn’t feel as if Thomas loved or desired her and that his drinking had become his new relationship. Maria decided to contact a former male friend from school with which she began a ‘sexting’ relationship. She never sent any sexually explicit photos of herself to this other person but the messages they shared were very provocative.

Maria never had any intentions of actually cheating on Thomas but she just felt lonely and unattractive. She sought companionship with someone that showed interest in her and chose to continue this ‘sexting’ relationship for a couple of months. She mentioned that this person made her feel sexy and desirable. She also felt good that someone was interested in her and although this person requested to meet her in person, she never did. Maria had some guilt that she was busy sending messages to someone other than her husband yet she continued. She got so frustrated with Thomas that she even ‘sexted’ this friend of hers while her husband was next to her on the couch.

Now, although this behavior of Maria’s was not having a physical affair it was an emotional affair. Maria was tired of trying to get through to her husband about his drinking and lack of interest in her. She spent a good amount of time looking for affection outside her relationship because her husband was not available to her. When Thomas found out about this ‘sexting’ relationship that Maria had started, he was devastated that she would do such a thing.

Maria made the decision to seek therapy to discuss her concerns and disappointment in herself and her relationship. Obviously she realized that while her marriage was not in the best state that she needed help to put things into perspective. After a few sessions, Maria wanted to bring her husband to join in the sessions. These sessions were spent having both of them discuss their feelings and how they were each disappointed with one another. Maria was able to discuss how she felt undesirable and lonely while Thomas received validation for his anxiety issues. Thomas was confronted for his alcohol abuse and how that was affecting their relationship. This couple was able to communicate, forgive each other and move forward.

A second couple, Julio and Gabrielle (not their real names) were not so lucky. Julio started ‘sexting’ with another woman he met online just after the birth of his daughter. He had been unhappy with Gabrielle for some time however just didn’t know how to communicate his feelings. He had come from a family in which communicating feelings was highly discouraged. So while his wife was pregnant and tired a good portion of the time, Julio was online looking for some attention.

At first, things were very mild. He sent a few texts here and there just looking to see if other women were interested. However, once his daughter was born, Julio spent a lot of time on his phone. He ‘sexted’ with a particular woman with whom he had a connection at work and in the car. He also deleted all of the messages because he didn’t want his wife to become suspicious or to find them ‘by accident.’ So he was able to keep up this front for some time…a good 6 months.

However, one day he wasn’t so careful. Julio forgot to delete some messages and his wife looked at his phone while she was up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. She was appalled and devastated at what she found. Gabrielle chose not to say anything right away because she wanted to see if she could catch him or get him to admit to this behavior. And one day she was able to do just that. She found him in the bathroom taking pictures of his genitals and sending the pictures & messages. She confronted him on the spot and but he denied ever meeting up with this woman. Gabrielle realized that they needed some serious help and sought therapy.

She communicated that she loved Julio and wanted to keep their marriage intact but was not going to accept this type of behavior from him. Julio was able to finally, after some encouragement, to communicate that he had been unhappy with Gabrielle for years. He stated that he only married her because she had become pregnant with his daughter but he didn’t feel that the two of them were very compatible. She also found out in therapy that Julio had lied about meeting up with the woman that he was sending messages to and that they had been dating. It was at this point that Gabrielle and Julio decided to separate because their relationship was not reparable.

So what should you do?

If you have found yourself interested in finding attention outside your marriage or relationship, it is important to ask yourself some important questions.

What do you want to accomplish? What are your intentions? Have you found that you are not interested in maintaining your marriage or relationship? What is the reason you are trying to connect with someone else? Are you looking for some attention because you are not getting it at home? Are you seeking out something more exciting or compatible than your partner/spouse? Or is your relationship salvageable with the help of someone who can encourage better communication and engagement? Are you just looking to make you’re your partner/spouse jealous? These questions need to be answered before the relationship deteriorates past the point of no return.

If you decide that you are simply not interested in continuing with your present relationship, then some honest dialogue needs to occur with your spouse or partner. It is important to communicate your feelings and to allow this other person the opportunity to hear that the relationship is over. This allows your partner to start the process of grieving the relationship and eventually moving on. Hopefully, you are able to provide some support and compassion for your spouse or partner and allow for a more amicable separation.

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However if you have recently found out that your spouse or partner has been involved in a ‘sexting’ relationship, it is important for you to maintain composure. It is completely normal to have intense emotions regarding the situation however it will not help in the communication process. Please ask questions about this other relationship and find out about your partner’s intentions. It is important to know if your spouse or partner is interested in continuing with your relationship and ending the other one or not. It is helpful to have an objective 3rd party there to help both of you to determine in which direction you both want to travel.

Emotions will be high in either situation especially for the person that has just found out about this outside relationship. If you are too deeply hurt by your spouse or partner’s ‘sexting’ relationship to stay with him/her, then this must also be addressed. Each person deals with highly emotional situations in different ways. One couple might be able to communicate effectively even in difficult situations while another couple might not be able to be in the same room together. So it is important to know how your spouse or partner will react in this situation and find a way to come to a workable conclusion that best fits both of you.

Conclusion

Since ‘sexting’ has become such a popular activity among adults in monogamous relationships and with those that are dating based on the research provided in this article, it is important for everyone to be more knowledgeable regarding the topic. The research shows that ‘sexting’ can enhance a monogamous relationship. The case examples show two different scenarios that can ensue. If people are unhappy in their present relationship and choose to utilize ‘sexting’ to find excitement with another person, the end result could be relationship or marital dissolution.

Couples are encouraged to seek out help. A counselor, therapist or psychologist can help couples to find their way through this situation. If a relationship has been extensively damaged by ‘sexting’ (through which a physical relationship may or may not have begun), there are important feelings on both sides that need to be addressed. Depending on the desires of both people involved, these relationships can be saved but does take time to rebuild trust and confidence. Since most of these relationships consist of one (or both) persons seeking out someone else, it is vital to encourage verbal communication about the things that each person views is lacking in the relationship. Feelings need to be communicated and each partner or spouse needs to have the opportunity to express him/herself. Forgiveness plays a HUGE part in this type of situation. Each person has to ask him/herself if forgiveness is an option and if so, they can proceed toward creating a new relationship together. They can do this by spending time together and discussing how to satisfy each other’s needs. Only after these important issues have been brought up can the couple begin to move forward on a new path toward happiness.

 

Reasons Why Relationships

Is your relationship going downhill? Maintaining a relationship is not easy and most couples encounter a few bumps along the road to a lasting relationship. If not recognized earlier, these bumps could push couples to take the relationship to the wrong direction leading to break-ups or divorce. It is important to recognize these relationship killers ahead of time to avoid further damage. There are reasons why relationships fail and once these reasons are recognized ahead of time, you’ll have a better chance of saving your troubled relationship. Although no one can enumerate all the reasons why relationships fail, we have listed here the top reasons. So what are these relationship killers?

Poor or lack of communication. One way to connect with each other is for couples to have a strong and regular communication. Couples tend to drift apart due to poor or lack of communication. Many relation problems start with lack of communication. Assuming that you know what your partner or spouse is thinking is dangerous to your relationship. Misunderstandings and arguments are often the result of not communicating with your spouse or partner. If this is happening in your relationship then you should know that this is one of the reasons why relationships fail and you have to do something to improve the communication in your relationship.

Not supportive with each other’s goals, ambitions and careers. One of the reasons why relationships fail is the issues with careers and ambitions between couples. When two people in a relationship have different goals and ambitions and cannot compromise or support each other, the relationship may suffer in the end. It is given that two people naturally have different ambitions and careers to pursue but in a relationship, it is best to support each other’s interest or careers to avoid strain in the relationship. It is easier to make the relationship work with a partner or spouse who believes and supports their spouse’s or partner’s career. If 100% understanding, acceptance and support is not possible, at least a partner or spouse should be open to compromise and willing to find a work around to make both their careers and relationship work. Sacrifices and compromise is inevitable. Of course, both should know how to balance their careers with their love life. It is easier said than done but it is not impossible. There are couples who are both successful in their careers at the same time lead a happy and strong relationship.

Not getting along with your partner’s friends and family. One of the reasons why relationships fail is the conflict with people closest to your spouse or partner. Let’s face it, the world does not revolve around you and your partner alone. There are people around you like friends and families that both you and your partner cannot live without. Not getting along with people closest to your partner can put a strain in your relationship. A situation where you and your partner’s mother or best friend can’t see each other eye to eye or can’t stay in the same room can be really stressful in the relationship. Holiday dinners and family gatherings can be difficult if you are not in good terms with your spouse’s family and friends. If you want to create a long-lasting relationship with your partner, it is best to get along with people important to him or her.

Life’s issues and baggage. There are life’s baggage and issues when brought to a relationship can cause damage. A lingering ex can ignite jealousy, suspicion and distrust that can put a strain in your current relationship, so it is best to be clear with your ex that everything is already in the past and that you are serious with your current relationship. Comparing your current relationship with your previous relationships is also dangerous and damaging to your relationship. Children and issues from previous marriage can be challenging and can also affect your relationship so it important to know how to handle these things and make your current relationship work. One of the reasons why relationships fail is the failure to deal with your life’s issues and baggage.

Money issues. Financial issues is one of the reasons why relationships fail. If not addressed properly, money issues can kill your relationship. The stress brought by financial woes and struggles can eventually ruin a relationship. People or couples stressed with financial issues can become irritable, irrational, hostile and cold with their spouse or partner and these behaviors can slowly kill a relationship. It is best to be honest from the start about your financial status, be open to discuss each other’s spending habits, money sharing and expenses. With effective and open-minded communication, strategies and compromise about money, a financially challenged couple can work things out and can save their marriage.

Infidelity. Keeping a relationship between two people is hard enough but involving a third party or cheating a partner is a bomb that can instantly kill a relationship. Infidelity is the ultimate relationship destroyer and some relationships won’t be able to survive this. Betraying the trust of your partner is one of the top reasons why relationships fail. The feeling of being replaced or being betrayed is not easy to cope with and so the betrayed spouse or partner often walk out of the relationship. Although there are couples who were able to survive cheating and make the relationship work again, it is best to not to commit infidelity in the first place if you want a long-lasting relationship.

Disgusting behaviors and habits. Although it is true that loving someone includes accepting all his or her flaws, in reality there are habits that can become annoying over time and can push your partner to wake up one day and realize he or she wants to get out of the relationship. Even simple things like not putting back the toothpaste cap, not making the bed, not putting the soiled laundry in the laundry bin or leaving dirty shoes and socks around the house can be magnified if things are not going well in your relationship and these can trigger your partner to finally end the relationship. Nagging, being a war freak, fighting in public, humiliating your spouse or partner, name calling or cursing when arguing, holding on grudges, hitting your spouse or partner when you are angry, throwing things when arguing, too much or unreasonable jealousy, avoiding discussions about the issues in your relationship, lying or being dishonest with your spouse or partner are some of the bad behaviors that can damage a relationship and could lead to break-ups or divorce. Being in a relationship should teach couples to be better people and not become worse so it is better to change for the better to create a strong relationship than acquire unfavorable habits or behaviors that can eventually damage your relationship.

Things in your relationship becomes a routine. The fire and excitement in the relationship could die because you became too comfortable or complacent with each other that things become more of a routine than an act of love. You become more like siblings or friends than lovers. Being too comfortable with each other takes away the excitement and the romance in the relationship and it makes the relationship boring and a routine. When couples do the same things together over and over again, they stopped growing as an individual and as a partner. Break the routine and spice up your relationship. There are things and interests that you can do separately to grow as a person and there are things that you can do together to bond with each other. It is important to allow your spouse or partner to have his or her own space to do his or her own thing or enjoy the company of his or her friends but it is also important to have time alone with each other through regular dates or vacations to bond with each other and create new and exciting memories.

Lack of intimacy and sex. Life can become too busy and complicated that couples may end up too busy or stressed for intimacy or sex which is not a good thing in a relationship. Couples need to connect intimately emotionally and physically and the best thing to do it is through sex. Sex could dry up in a long-term relationship and couples tend to have less sex through the years. Couples should prevent this from happening. Lack of intimacy or sexual dissatisfaction is one of the reasons why relationships fail. When couples stop having sex, they tend to get disconnected and detached from each other and they become susceptible to infidelity. It is best for couples to maintain an active sex life to keep the connection and make the relationship more alive and exciting. Although it is important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner through regular sex, couples should know that it is not good to put pressure on your spouse or partner to engage in frequent sex. You don’t have to have sex everyday but there are studies saying that having regular sex once a week is ideal and enough to maintain that intimate connection between couples. There are many hindrances to accomplish this like stress at work, stress in everyday life, taking care of the children and the state where you are not in the mood for sex but like any other issue in your relationship, the frequency and timing of having sex should be discussed and planned. Intimate connection through sex is vital in every romantic relationship and when couples are not having enough connection through sex, they have to do something to fix this problem to save the relationship.