Here is a brief section on relationship politeness that will appear in the next edition of Interpersonal Messages. A great deal more could be said about politeness in relationships; this brief passage is just designed to raise the issue.
Not surprisingly, your level of politeness will vary with your relationship stage.
Politeness is greatest during the contact and involvement stages—you want to put your best foot forward if the relationship is to be established and perhaps moved forward.
During the intimacy stage, you’re likely to relax your politeness, at least the rules of politeness that would operate in social settings. As noted earlier, as the relationship becomes more interpersonal, the rules that guide the relationship are not so much the rules of society as they are the rules established by the individuals themselves. With intimates, you know each other so well that you feel you can dispense with the “please” and “excuse me” or with prefacing requests with, for example, “Can I please ask you a favor” or “Would you mind helping me here?”
Relaxing politeness as in intimacy, however, is not necessarily a good thing; in fact, politeness during the intimacy stage helps to maintain the relationship and ensure relationship satisfaction. Relaxing politeness too much may be interpreted as a decrease in caring and respect for the other person which will increase dissatisfaction and perhaps move the relationship away from intimacy.
During the deterioration and dissolution stages, you’re not likely to be concerned with politeness. You may even go out of your way to be impolite as an expression of your dislike or even hostility. In some cases, of course, the dissolution of a relationship is an amicable one where politeness would be relatively high with perhaps the idea of remaining friends but at a less intimate level than previously.
If you wish to repair the relationship, then you’re likely to be extremely polite, perhaps on the same level as during the contact and involvement stages. Your politeness in starting and growing the relationship is likely to be echoed in your attempts to re-start (or repair) your relationship.