Does a relationship develop based solely on attraction, proximity and attachment styles? I am going to step out on a limb and say these concepts play a huge role in developing a relationship. From my perspective, I don’t believe human beings were meant to be alone. I am sure there is someone out there who disagrees with this statement but I believe life is so much more fulfilling with others. Schneider, Gruman and Coutts(2012), identifies individual’s desires to be connected or closely linked with others. Namely, the closeness most individual long for are given by a parent, friend or significant other. However, in order for this to occur the person has to be willing to let others into their lives whole heartedly. They have to interact and mingle in order to establish relationships. Take myself as an illustration, I’ve been single, married, divorce, single and currently preparing to remarry. Sounds like a bit of a roller coaster ride. But in order to reconnect and start over, it starts with an attraction.
A” warm body” simply wouldn’t do, I required something more. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, PG 355) Yet, attraction played a role in my selection process. Not to the extent where it was a deal breaker but it held some value. I didn’t take into consideration the matching phenomenon making sure our looks were complimentary of each other. However, the study conducted by Dion, Berscheild and Waltster concluded that attractive people were viewed highly in comparison to unattractive people. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012). These views would align with physical attractiveness stereotype. The view suggests there is an expectancy that attractive people have the best “qualities” and unattractive people have the worst” qualities.” People with better features tend to have more job opportunities presented based upon looks according to our text. Namely, individuals have the tendency to fall victim to primacy effect. The primacy effect is when people are swayed by what is displayed during a first encounter which is normally personal appearance. Yet, there are things to considered when determining how relationships develop such as proximity.
Proximity effect played a developmental role in helping my appreciation for my significant other. Sharing a space heightened the interest I had during our courting phase. When an individual finds themselves in an intimate setting with just two people, it becomes easier to self-divulge. Likewise, it allows the person the opportunity to figure out the other individual’s preferences and views due to close proximity. Physical proximity is the closeness of other individuals. In fact, proximity allows people to be within someone’s personal space and obtain a better understanding of the individual. For this reason, people tend to date and get to know other people who live in the same area or even closer, the workplace. Conversely, although closeness can heighten a person’s appreciation for someone it can also cause a person to dislike a person through environmental spoiling. If a person is disliked, the interaction can have a reserve effect and cause them to have a stronger disliking. Notably, an extensive amount of exposure can cause the individual to feel good or bad about another person. Familiarity also plays a role in establishing a relationship. One might find it comforting to run into a friendly face that they have seen previously. However, when developing a relationship, one has to conscious that they do not perceive similarities. It might occur when the person believes someone is more interested, when in fact they are not.
Lastly, attachment styles can put a damper on building a relationship. We’ve all heard the saying, everyone has baggage. Some people’s baggage is much heavier than others. They could have experienced attachment issues as a child that may have carried over into their adulthood behavior. Namely, if the issues are unresolved it could impact future relationships. Then, let’s not forget how damaging a breakup or divorce can be to a person, it severs the attachment. If the connect between to individual ends, it causes separation distress. Separation distress occurs when the person that they were once attached to is no longer in the picture, it can be very traumatic. Now, let’s consider how attachment styles impact babies when their parents leave them. Based upon their attachment style and the parent level of attention shown, the child may cry out for their parent. If no one responds, the child behavior adapts to the response. As the child develops similar traits transcend into behavior displayed as adults. As an example, if a person attachment style as an infant aligned with the secure attachment style, as an adult, the person is likely to be a secure individual. Secure attachment style as an adult suggests the ability to connect with others while maintaining and “interdependence” coupled with being “trusting.”(Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, PG 361) For the most part, no matter what attachment style developed over the years most people require some form of interaction with other people.
In sum, Maslow himself identified “belongingness” as an important factor in “survival and wellbeing.”(Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, 354) In other words, connecting with and building a foundation of togetherness with others is imperative. This is not to say that a person can’t have an enjoyable life by oneself. However, it can be so much more rewarding if they are willing to take a chance and step out there and allow themselves to be receptive to new encounters. Clearly, attraction, proximity and attachment styles play a role in the development phase of relationships. Yet, there are so many other factors that come along with building connections. It starts pretty simply with a smile, no words needed. As long as the individual keeps that heart open and receptive, the world is filled with possible candidates. In my opinion, I believe there is somebody out there for everybody; with this in mind, if you don’t get it right the first time try again.
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.