Some things are better left unsaid II: Topic avoidance in friendships

Walid A. Afifi, Laura Guerrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This study examines the extent to which members of same- and cross-sex friendships avoid topics related to relationship issues, negative life experiences, dating experiences, sexual experiences, and outside friendships. Four reasons for topic avoidance are also explored: self-protection, relationship protection, partner unresponsiveness, and social appropriateness. Results from 177 undergraduate students, who referenced a friend of the same sex and a friend of the opposite sex, showed that individuals avoided discussing negative life experiences and relationship issues with males more than females and, when with opposite-sex friends, avoided disclosures related to dating and sexual experiences more than when with same-sex friends. Additionally, individuals avoided disclosure for a variety of reasons, but seem primarily motivated to avoid topics due to concerns for self-protection. Results of this investigation shed light on the communicative implications underlying differences between same- and cross-sex friendships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Cross-sex friendships
  • Same-sex friendships
  • Self-disclosure
  • Target sex
  • Topic avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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