This part introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters. The part suggests that the availability and accessibility of support is determined by a constellation of personal characteristics that refer to as relational competence. It provides evidence that some personal characteristics are effective for establishing and mobilizing social networks, whereas others are effective for maintaining social networks. The part reviews the research on the coping and support processes that are used to manage a specific stressor in later life, chronic illness. It also suggests that the contents of social relationships, or “provisions,” vary on two dimensions: the complexity of the skills needed to maintain the relationship and the externality of the focus. The part discusses the negative elements of older adults’ social relationships. It examines the links between social relationships and the macro-social environment. The part explores how social exchanges are productive for the individual and how they benefit society.