This study uses a discourse analytic approach to examine how twenty young adult heterosexual romantic couples (ages 19-26) formulate accusations and insinuations of infidelity in their unstructured natural conversations. The analyses demonstrate how accusations of infidelity among romantic partners work to pursue and avert relational trouble. They indirectly index local interactional breaches that may, if left unattended, lead to non-affiliative interactional outcomes. Unlike mainstream psychological work that would treat talk about infidelity as a sign of emotional insecurity or jealousy, the present study posits that accusations of infidelity may function as a brief but effective way for one partner to signal that they have been dismissed or neglected in the preceding discursive turns, and to indirectly invite the other to repair that. Inductive sequential discursive analyses specifically found a reoccurring 5-part sequential pattern in the interactional environment surrounding spontaneous accusations of infidelity. This study demonstrates that the ways romantic partners affiliate around quotidian accusations of infidelity is not random, but instead can reflect an ordered cultural pattern to the ways couples work to maintain a close relationship.
Infidelity, Accusations, Discourse Analysis, Romantic Relationships, Affiliation
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Recommended APA Citation
Korobov, N. (2016). A Discourse Analytic Approach to Accusations of Infidelity in Romantic Couples' Natural Conversations. The Qualitative Report, 21(7), 1266-1287. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2016.2403