The dark side relates to objectification, or the diminishing of an individual of their personhood. Darkness falls upon those who lost or have never found love; it was in their grasp, but it slipped through their fingers, leaving them entirely unfulfilled. The dark side is complex and contradictory, and includes the many mystifying aspects of life, especially those of love (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1998, p. xiv-xv). An abundant amount of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction work has been written about the dark side of interpersonal relationships, and in particular the paradoxical nature of romantic love, but there is no fictional account that is more prolific in demonstrating the dark side of love and relationships than the novel “You” by Caroline Kepnes.

Joe is an employee of an independent bookstore in New York City. When Beck walks into the bookstore, and into Joe's life, she is perfect for him: she is knockout gorgeous, sexier than he could have ever imagined, and she is possessed with an intelligence that only he could match. She doesn't know it, yet, but he is perfect for her. This novel digs into many depths of darkness expanding into several themes, including: obsessive relational intrusion that reaches the point of stalking; computer-mediated communication consequences; risks of expressing affection; jealousy and envy; deception; infidelity; and negative effects of narcissism in relationships.

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Dark Side Themes within "You"

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Asada, K. J. K., Lee, E., Levine, T. R., & Ferrara, M. H. (2004). Narcissism and empathy as predictors of obsessive relational intrusion. Communication Research Reports, 21(4), 379-390.

Baumeister, R. F., Wotman, S. R., & Stillwell, A. M. (1993). Unrequited love: On heartbreak, anger, guilt, scriptlessness, and humiliation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 377.

Buller, D. B., & Burgoon, J. K. (1996). Interpersonal deception theory. Communication theory, 6(3), 203-242.

Clanton, G. (2006). Jealousy and envy. In Handbook of the sociology of emotions (pp. 410-442). Springer US.

DeAndrea, D. C., Tong, S. T., & Walther, J. B. (2011). Dark sides of computer-mediated communication. In W. R Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of close relationships II (pp. 95-115). New York, NY: Routledge.

Erbert, L. A., & Floyd, K. (2004). Affectionate expressions as face‐threatening acts: Receiver assessments. Communication studies, 55(2), 254-270.

Floyd, K. & Pauley, P. M., (2011). Affectionate communication is good, except when it isn;t: On the dark side of expressing affection. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of close relationships II (pp. 145-170). New York, NY: Routledge.

Fuchs, C., Boersma, K., Albrechtslund, A., & Sandoval, M. (2013). Internet and surveillance: The challenges of Web 2.0 and social media (Vol. 16). Routledge.

Guerrero, L. K. & Anderson, P. A. (1998). Jealousy and envy: Desire, delusion, desperation, and destructive communication. In B. H. Spitzberg and W. R. Cupach (Eds.), The dark side of close relationships (pp. 33-70). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kepnes, C. (2014). You. New York, NY: Emily Bestler Books, Atria.

Knapp, M. L., & Comadena, M. E. (1979). Telling it like it isn't: A review of theory and research on deceptive communications. Human Communication Research, 5(3), 270-285.

Lee, R.K. (1998). Romantic and electronic stalking in a college context. William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, 4, 373-466.

Levine, T.R., Kim, R. K., Hamel, L. M. (2010). People lie for a reason: Three experiments documenting the principles of veracity. Communication Research Repoorts, 27(4), 271-285.

Lewandowski, G. W., & Ackerman, R. A. (2006). Something's missing: Need fulfillment and self-expansion as predictors of susceptibility to infidelity. The Journal of social psychology, 146(4), 389-403.

Rokach, A., & Philibert-Lignières, G. (2015). Intimacy, Loneliness & Infidelity. The Open Psychology Journal, 8(1).

Spitzberg, B. H., & Cupach, W. R. (1998). The dark side of close relationships. New York, NY: Routledge.

Spitzberg, B. H., & Cupach, W. R. (2014). The dark side of relationship pursuit: From attraction to obsession and stalking (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Tokunaga, R. S. (2011). Social networking site or social surveillance site? Understanding the use of interpersonal electronic surveillance in romantic relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(2), 705-713.

Tracy, J. L., CHeng, J. T., Robins, R. W., & Trzesniewski. K. H. (2009). Authentic and hubristic pride: The affective core of self-esteem and narcissism. Self and Identity, 8(2-3), 196-213.

Tsapelas, I., Fisher, H. E., & Aron, A. (2011). Infidelity: When, where, why. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of close relationships II (pp. 175-189). New York, NY: Routledge.

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When Beck walks into the bookstore for the first time Joe is immediately struck by her beauty and he believes she is meant for him,

You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 am…. You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax. “God bless you!” I call out. You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.” Buddy. You’re flirting… (Kepnes, 2014, p. 1).

Joe’s attraction to Beck is instantaneous and he is convinced Beck wants him. When Beck purchases her books with a credit card, despite having cash, Joe presumes she does this because she wants him to know her name. When she reads his nametag and calls him by his name, he thinks, “you wanted to know my name as much as I wanted to know yours or you wouldn’t have read my name tag” (Kepnes, 2014, p. 3). This form of delusional belief is known as erotomania. Many stalkers suffer from this disease; they “delude themselves into believing that their objects reciprocate their love” (Lee, 1998, p. 385). Individuals who suffer from erotomania believe that their object of desire would (or do) truly love them if given the chance (Lee, 1998, p. 387).

You didn't walk in here for books, Beck. You didn't have to say my name. You didn't have to smile or listen or take me in. But you did. Your signature is on the receipt. This wasn't a cash transaction and it wasn't a coded debit. This was real (Kepnes, 2014, p. 4).

“Wherever there is the possibility for romantic interaction and attachment, there is the possibility for obsessive attraction, and stalking tendencies” (Lee, 1998, p. 414). Most studies indicate ninety percent of stalking cases involve former intimates, but cases of stranger stalking is more common than previously recognized. Some specialist in stalking believe that one-third to one-half of stalkers pursue strangers (Lee, 1998, p. 381). When an individual is in pursuit of another it is most often related to desire, want, or need, “of which the concepts of love and attraction are subsets” (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2014, p. 2). Obsessive relational intrusion (ORI) involves a repeated pattern of pursuit and invasion of privacy of an individual by another who often presumes or desires a relationship of intimacy (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1998, p. 234). Unlike stalking, ORI does not necessarily evoke fear or anxiety in the target individual (although it frequently does) because it is often done under the radar (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2014).

Joe begins stalking Beck in earnest after he gets her home address. He watches her from across the street, dressing in different clothes so as not to raise suspicion from her or her neighbors. When Beck leaves to meet her friends, Joe breaks into her home and looks in every nook and cranny to learn more about his object of obsession. He steals her panties and some of her writings. With these items he creates what he calls, "the book of Beck." This is not Joe's first stalking experience. He alludes to having stalked another girl by the name of Candace. Why does Joe seek his relationships in this manner? Spitzberg and Cupach (2014) focused on two specific theories to explain stalking behaviors or obsessive relational intrusion.

Attachment Theory

Joe's mother was not around while he was growing up (it is not clear if she left or died) and his father was an uncaring "pig." Even Joe's surrogate father, the owner of the bookstore that he worked at since he was young, abused him by locking him in a book cage in the bookstore's basement for several days. When Joe returned home after his incarceration, his father did not even notice that Joe was missing.

Research shows that a child's sense of security and self-confidence is developed when they are provided with accessible and responsive caregiving. If a child is abandoned or is shown indifference or rejection, the child is apt to develop insecure attachments (p. 147). Insecurely attached individuals tend to acquire traits that put them at risk of obsessively pursuing relationships. Research studies indicate insecurely attached individuals possess "manic and desperate love styles" (p. 148). Attachment anxiety, preoccupied anxiety, and fearful attachment are shown to be associated with "the perpetration of unwanted pursuit behaviors" (p. 152).

Relational Goal Pursuit Theory

Joe is constantly trying to find ways to be romantically involved with Beck, but she treats him more like a friend. She only wants to meet him for lunch, or worse yet, brunch, which he considers the ultimate sexless date. He cannot stop fixating on ways to get Beck to fall for him, and he gets increasingly frustrated when she finds no interest in him. Joe even hooks up with a girl, Karen, so that he can get Beck off his mind. Karen falls in love with him. She pampers him, she cooks for him, she wants to spend time with him — she even wants to get to know him. Essentially, she should be the perfect girl for him. Joe ends up breaking it off with Karen because she does not make him happy; he believes he will only attain happiness after he is with Beck.

According to Spitzberg and Cupach (2014) a pursuer's goal of having a specific target person in mind is what motivates relationship pursuit. Obsessive relational pursuers over exaggerate the importance of the goal of the target relationship. They believe their feelings of self-worth and happiness is dependent upon attaining the desired relationship (p. 152). If a pursuer is thwarted in their attempt to pursue their desired relationship, they become even more obsessed in pursuing the relationship. The frustration of the relationship being blocked leads to rumination and thus begins the obsessive cycle of pursuit.

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Beck is an avid user of social networking sites. She specifically uses FaceBook and Twitter to notify her friends and followers of what she is thinking or what she is planning to do that day or evening. DeAndrea, Tong, & Walther (2011) claim that a large number of personal and professional relationships are fostered through computer-mediated communication, now known more specifically as social technologies. These social technologies help individuals start and maintain relationships with others in close proximity to them and across the world. What many people who use social networks do not realize about this form of communication technology is that it not only allows other's unprecedented access to the individuals, but access to those individual's personal information, as well. Procuring sought information, along with the potential anonymity involved with online lurking, can motivate an individual to enact surveillance. Surveillance is easier on social networking sites because of status updates, news feeds, and open message exchanges. The abundance of rich information without extensive searching or formal investigations makes surveillance convenient (Tokunaga, 2011. p. 711).

In several studies with college students, 65% of the participants admitted to engaging in covert, obsessive, and problematic levels of surveillance via social network sites. Monitoring or obtaining information about an individual is done through Internet surveillance. This form of pursuit can range from a simple Google search to using electronic media to find someone via location services or the illicit use of GPS devices (Fuchs, Boersma, Albrechtslund, & Sandoval, 2013). Joe uses electronic media to locate Beck's home address. Once Joe obtains her address, he stalks her physically by observing her from a distance, but what he fully engages in is cyberstalking.


Cyberstalking usually refers to a set of behaviors repeated by an individual that inflicts unwanted communication and intrusions upon another individual over an extended period. There are several dimensions of cyberstalking that range from the more common form known as hyperintimacy to the less common form known as invasion or intrusion. Hyperintimacy includes sending embellished messages of affection, desire, or harassment; invasion or intrusion includes "sabotaging reputation, exposing private information, and surveillance (DeAndrea, Tong, & Walther, 2011). Joe does not induce fear in Beck from his cyberstalking because she is not aware that he is following her every move through her social media accounts. Beck's social media activities have left her vulnerable to Joe's intrusion into her private life, but his behavior is not clearly a result of Internet techonologies. The Internet is an amplifier of the behavior Joe is already inclined to enact. Researchers identify this as the deviation-amplifying effects of computer-mediated communication.

Joe's surveillance, or cyberstalking, of Beck increases triple-fold after he steals her cell phone, “You told your girlfriends you would come by around this time. I know this because I have your phone...I have been reading your emails” (Kepnes, p. 25). Beck believes she has lost her phone, so she replaces her old phone and gets a new number, but she does not want her mother to know that she lost the phone so never tells her mother to cancel the old phone. Joe now has a simpler way to monitor all of Beck's electronic communication. He believes by monitoring her communication he will learn everything about her, and, in turn, he will become the perfect man for her, “I know you like my cologne because you and Chana lust after a bartender who wears this cologne, which is why I bought it” (Kepnes, p. 25). The darker side of this technological world of computer-mediated communication has increased the possibility of unwanted surveillance, personal privacy loss, intrusion, and cyberstalking. Social networking sites can serve as a significant stalking function for Internet users and surveillance can range from the occasional profile checking to tracking the electronic movements of a target obsessively (Fuchs, Boersma, Albrechtslund, & Sandoval, 2013), just as Joe does with Beck throughout the book.

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Jealousy and envy are often confused as the same emotions, but they are separate and distinct. Jealousy is a reaction of thoughts, feelings, or actions of protection to a perceived threat to the value or quality of a relationship. The feelings of jealousy are often aroused when an individual believes a romantic relationship is being “threatened by a real or imagined third party” (Clanton, 2006, p. 411). The roots of jealousy derive from the desire to keep what one already has, envy, on the other hand, stems from an individual’s desire to have something that they do not already have.


Joe experiences feelings of great envy in the earlier part of the book when he begins pursuing Beck; this occurs when Beck eventually goes on some dates with Joe. He becomes envious of Beck’s friends because they are all college graduates and they are from upper class societies. He experiences feelings of bitterness and hatred toward them, and he believes they look at him like he is “the fucking delivery guy” (Kepnes, 2014, p. 53). He has these emotions because he did not get an opportunity to go to college and he was raised in a much lower class neighborhood from them. According to the social comparison theory, people are driven to evaluate and compare themselves to others. Feelings of envy are strongest when there is a negative self-to-other comparison or when the comparison is in an area that is high in revelance for the individual (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998).

“I’m invisible to you in her presence, just like everyone else…I look around but nobody wants to say hi to me. It’s like they can smell public school on me” (Kepnes, 2014, p. 53).

Joe is experiencing the negative emotional feelings of envious anger, which is rooted in resentment and irritation.


In Joe's mind, Beck is his, he believes this as soon as she walks into the bookstore, but his belief in their relationship as real becomes more pronounced when he saves her from getting hurt when she gets into an accident while he is stalking her. After the incident, as he is taking her home in a taxi, she calls him her "protector" and "savior." This incident solidifies his relationship with her, whether she agrees or not. When he learns that she is seeing someone else sexually, he becomes jealous. Joe experiences jealous fear because he is afraid of losing what he believes he has with her; he experiences uncertainty in how long their relationship will last, "I also know for a fact that we have a bigger obstacle between us: Benji" (Kepnes, 2014, p. 58). Joe's jealous fear evolves to jealous anger because he is hurt that Beck will not be his exclusively, but he does not take the anger out on Beck, which is often the case. Joe believes that if he is able to get Benji out of the picture, Beck will be able to put all of her focus on him. Individuals who experience deep hurt or extreme feelings of betrayal (imagined or real), they will sometimes engage in violent and aggressive behavior (Guerrero & Anderson, 1998). Unfortunately for Benji, Joe takes his aggression out on him and kills him.

After Joe gets Benji out of the way, he is able to spend more time with Beck. Unfortunately, Beck's best friend is needy and is demanding of Beck's time. "You smile and peck me on the lips and Peach is calling so you run back to her" (Kepnes, 2014, p.71). Once again, Joe has another "triangle of relations" that is threatening to take the relationship he has with Beck away from him. Peach consumes so much of Beck's time that Joe becomes enraged with jealousy, but once again, he believes that removing the third party is the best solution, and he kills her, too. Joe suffers from extreme jealousy when it comes to others interfering in his relationship with Beck. Benji and Peach suffer the interpersonal consequences of his violent communication of jealousy.

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A relationship, as defined by communication scholar L.E. Rogers (1998), is a mutually reliant interaction pattern that takes place over time between individuals. The closer the individuals are, the greater the interdependency of the interaction. The participants’ behavioral actions and responses are what make relationships exist (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2014, p. 4). Affectionate communication is a way of demonstrating intense positive regard for another being. Affectionate exchange is critical to human well-being. Personal relationships need affectionate communication for development. Despite the benefits of affection in an individual's life, there is empirical evidence to suggest there are also negative outcomes of affectionate communication (Erbert & Floyd, 2004, 254).

Beck's best friend Peach is deeply in love with her. Peach expresses this affection for Beck one day while they are vacationing at Peach’s family beach house. Peach starts massaging Beck’s feet to help Beck relax. The gentle feet massage quickly changes to a full body massage and on to Peach making a sexual advance toward Beck. Beck rejects her advance. Peach quickly changes from loving to dismissive. Beck feels bad for turning her friend away. Researchers identify this as unrequited love. Baumeister, Wotman, & Stillwell (1993) claim that "unrequited love presents a case of emotional interdependence," where one individual's actions determines another person's emotions (p. 378).

Peach may have made her sexual advance toward Beck because she may have misinterpreted a number of Beck's verbal and nonverbal cues. According to Baumeister, Wotman, & Stillman (1993), romantic impulses may arise from misunderstood psycho physiological cues (p. 379). Prior to the advance, Beck may have suspected Peach had romantic feelings for her, and she probably enjoyed the attentions that Peach provided her, but without Peach's outright declaration she could continue to enjoy Peach's friendship. Peach's expression of affection forced Beck to make a choice. She had to either accept Peach's proposition, which could result in an insincere confirmation of romantic affection from her or she could reject Peach, which ended up resulting in hurt feelings and distress to both Beck and Peach (Baumeister, Wotman, & Stillman, 1993, p. 378).

Analyses of the aftereffects of unrequited love determine they are different for the sender and the receiver of the expressed affection. The rejecter may feel guilt and social awkwardness and the heartbroken lover may suffer from humiliation. There are two significant theories behind the negative effects of Peach's expression of affection.

Expectaion Violations Theory

According to the expectations violations theory (EVT) people have certain expectations as a result of certain behaviors. If an individual experiences a negative expectancy violation, as Beck did from Peach, the violation will cause the receiver of the violation to assess the violator in negative ways. Initially, Beck responded abruptly to Peach's advance because Peach had crossed the line from friend to would-be lover, a behavior that Beck may not have expected from her (Floyd & Pauley, 2011, p. 149).

Politeness Theory

The fundamental basis of the politeness theory (PI) is that all individuals are concerned with maintaining their public image or what Goffman referred to as face. There are two perceptions of face, positive and negative. A positive face is in reference to an individual's desire for approval and acceptance from others: an individual's desires for inclusion or affection and respect. A negative face is in reference an individual's desire for freedom and autonomy (Erbert & Floyd, 2009, p. 255). Behaviors that oppose an individual’s face needs are indentified as face-threatening acts. According to Erbert & Floyd (2009), expressing affection can support one form of face while concurrently threatening the other face. Expression of affection can be negative when either positive or negative face is threatened. When Peach's advances were rejected; Beck's behavior turned out differently than she expected, Peach tried to save her positive face; her need for affection and acceptance, by dismissing Beck's rejection as absolutely "fine." Beck's rebuff was humiliating to Peach, but she was not revealing that information to Beck, if she could help it. As for Beck, once she rejected Peach's advance, she felt guilty for hurting her friend, but she was also saving her negative face; he need for freedom from Peach's romantic affection, which overrides the guilt she feels.

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A narcissist is an individual who possesses extreme self-admiration, with tendencies of “grandiose ideas, fantasized talents, exhibitionism, and defensiveness in response to criticism” (Asada, Lee, Levine, & Ferrara, 2004). In terms of interpersonal relationships, narcissists usually demonstrate feelings of entitlement, they use others to their advantage, and they lack any empathy. Narcissists possess fragile self-esteem. They have a tendency to inflate their fragile ego at the cost of others' well-being. Often individuals high in narcissism have elevated levels of hostility; feelings of anger; and demonstrate aggressive behavior in response to criticism that threatens how think of themselves. When narcissists receive negative feedback from others, their actions are more likely to be aggressive and hostile (Tracy, Cheng, Robins, & Trzesniewski, 2009; Asada, Lee, Levine, & Ferrara, 2004).

Narcissism typically develops during childhood, when the child is over-idealized along with unrealistic demands being placed on them. This results in the child feeling they must be perfect, but they are also made to feel rejected when they cannot achieve this perfection. Their social experiences such as exclusion, ridicule, and humiliation can compound this rejection, and emphasize their feelings of failing their parents because they are unable to meet this idealized and impossible standard that has been set. The child's internal conflict of positive and negative self can result in the child burying all negative self-images inherently, and maintaining the perfectionist view of self overtly; resulting in opposing feelings of inadequacy coexisting with feelings of grandiosity (Tracy, Cheng, Robins, & Trzesniewski, 2009).

Narcissism and Relationships

Surprisingly, considering narcissist’s grandiose ideas of self, narcissists possess traits that initially make them likeable by others; they are often outgoing and socially adept. Narcissists often view their relationships as enhancements to themselves; they "harvest narcissistic esteem" from the relationships they are in (Asada, Lee, Levine, & Ferrara, 2004, p. 389). Unfortunately, narcissists require constant ego inflation and this can place havoc on any relationship (Tracy, Cheng, Robins, & Trzesniewski, 2009).

Joe is a perfect example of a severe narcissist, and the dark side of narcissism in relationships. He has an extremely high view of himself, he thinks he is better than and smarter than others; yet, any threat to this feeling causes him to react with hostility. He does this with "stupid" customers in the bookstore; he does it with Benji and Peach, and he does it to most any person he judges as less than himself. When he gets involved in a relationship with the nurse, Karen Minty, a woman who treats him perfectly; he dumps her because she was not the "type of girl" that can "harvest his self esteem." Karen was just a regular girl, "I am better than you and you know it" (Kepnes, 2014, p. 82). The ultimate expression of Joe's narcissism is demonstrated after he finally does get the girl that he obsesses over. He did this with the girl, Candace who he pursued befpre Beck, and he did it with Beck. When Candace broke up with him and when Beck found out that he had been stalking her for months and she calls him a "creep," Joe reacted in the only way an extreme narcissist would, he killed them! As Tracy, Cheng, Robins, & Trzesniewski (2009) found in their research, when narcissists receive negative feedback or ego-threatening criticism; they tend to react in a hostile and aggressive manner.

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Beck finally considers Joe her boyfriend. They see each other nearly every day and if they do not see each other, they are emailing, texting, and sexting. Joe believes he finally has “got the girl,” after all the obstacles that stood in his way. Then Beck begins changing and becomes more distant. She says she cannot get together with him because she has to meet with her college advisor one day, she has to study the next day, and she is having a girl’s night out with her friends the next. Beck’s declarations of love in her texts and emails when signing off soon become smiley faces and simple “k”s. Joe becomes suspicious. He does not understand what has changed. He breaks into her apartment and he discovers she has a new computer and a completely new email address. He reads some of her email exchanges and discovers that Beck is having an affair with her married therapist.

For most romantic relationships, exclusivity is considered fundamental. Both individuals commit to each other solely, both emotionally and sexually. Despite this assumption, infidelity is a common factor in many relationships (Lewandowski & Ackerman, 2006). Studies indicate 20-25% of heterosexual married women and 20-40% of heterosexual married men will have an illicit affair. Seventy-percent of dating couples in the U.S. report an incidence of infidelity. An astounding figure of 60% of men and 53% of women admitted to “mate poaching,” which is the act of intentionally trying to lure an individual that is in a committed relationship to begin a relationship with them (Tsapelas, Fisher, & Aron, 2011). A paradox to these findings, is when a random sampling of individuals were asked their beliefs about infidelity, and 77% of the participants outwardly stated it was always wrong. If all those people believe infidelity is completely wrong, why are so many individuals having affairs?

Factors Associated with Infidelity

There are three variables that can predict the occurrence of infidelity in a relationship: individual characteristics, circumstances, and relational factors (Rokoch & Philibert-Lignières, 2015). The leading psychological factor behind infidelity is relationship satisfaction, known as the “deficit model” of infidelity. Infidelity was associated negatively with several factors or relationship satisfaction, which includes: needs fulfilled, love felt for partner, quality and quantity of sex, and the length of the marriage (Tsapelas, Fisher, & Aron, 2011). Boredom and emotional support were also were factors in relational satisfaction, along with loneliness. Loneliness is a result of individual’s perception of the discrepancy between the relationship they have and the relationship they would like to have (Rokoch & Philibert-Lignières, 2015).

When examining the big five personality traits the following are the greatest contributors to an individual committing adultery: high extraversion, high neuroticism, high psychoticism, as well as low agreeableness (Rokoch & Philibert-Lignières, 2015). As well as these specific personality traits, the attachment theory also factors into the dynamics of infidelity. Secure attachments are positively associated with stable relationships and decreased amounts of infidelity and insecure attachments are positively associated with increased infidelities.

In the case of Beck’s infidelity while she is in a romantic relationship with Joe, she got bored; she is extremely extraverted and neurotic and her relationship with him (as short as it was) became too common for her. Beck has attachment issues since her father left when she was young and her father remarried a much younger wife and started a new family. As for Beck’s therapist, he is very lonely in his marriage. They have been married for a long time and he and his wife became bored and Beck’s effervescent personality awakened in him what he was missing in his life with his wife. Both Beck and the therapist the circumstances were ripe for an affair.

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According to Buller & Burgoon (1996), deception in interpersonal communication is defined as a message transmission that is knowingly false of belief or conclusion. Deception occurs when a communicator conveys a message that is a departure from the truth, as they know it (p. 205). Deceptive messages are usually made up of three typical components: a central deceptive message (usually verbal); an additional message that supports the appearance of the deceptive message (can be both verbal and/or nonverbal); and an inadvertent behavior (usually nonverbal) that discloses the deception to the receivers (Buller & Burgoon, 1996). Deception is often defined as “a conscious alteration of information” that an individual believes to be true, so as to change another’s perception of this truth (Knapp & Comadena, 1979). Knapp & Comadena believe that “deception, like truth, is relative” (1979, p. 271). They believe that one man’s lie is another man’s truth.

Motives for Deception

One study indicated there are five motivations for deception: to save face; to manage relationships; to exploit; to avoid tension or conflict, and situation control. One research proposal categorized deception motives based on whether it benefits the self, other, or the relationship. Another proposal argued that both social motivations and deception beneficiaries must be considered as motivation for deception (Levine, Kim, Hamel, 2010, p. 272). Some researchers believe that some forms of deception are essential parts of natural selection and human biology, identified as an adaptive response (Knapp, Comadena, 1979).

After Joe kills Benji, he deceives Benji’s friends and family that he is still alive by tweeting from his Twitter account. Joe conveys in the tweets that Benji has gone out of town to travel and go on a drug binge (which Benji has done in the past). Joe’s motivation for this deception is most likely tied to him wanting to be able to manage and control his relationship with Beck. When Benji initially disappears, Beck is distraught by his absence. Joe deceives Beck by sending her an uncaring email from Benji’s mail account. His intention is to create a greater distance between Beck and her feelings for Benji. Joe continues this ruse until Benji’s parents notify his friends that they believe Benji has died on one of his drug binges. This deceptive hoax did benefit Joe because the longer Benji was away and “Benji” was tweeting his inane tweets of his drug-induced adventures, Beck got closer and closer to Joe. Perhaps his deception could be looked at as natural selection and the survival of the most deceitful.

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