To this day, I think it is fair to assume we as individuals have had that relationship that made us go “what were we thinking”? Well, this was the case for me about seven years ago. I look back today and almost laugh at the circumstances of this relationship, I was young and definitely not ready to be in anything committed. I knew this at that point in time but that did not stop me and to this day I call that relationship a “situationship”. A relationship that was solely situational and founded on the theories of social psychology. This is how social psychology molded and encouraged my year-long “situationship”. The components that made up this relationship were a need to be close, proximity and familiarity, physical attraction, and attachment. In regards to the need to be close, humans are social creatures (Aronson, 2007 cited in Schneider et, al 2012). As social animal’s humans need different relationships some may be more comfortable with socializing and have different skills when it comes to being social but all humans regardless of skill level need a feeling of belonging. This is also why belongingness was the third most important motive on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Schneider et, al. 2012). At the time I met this individual, who I will rename to Mike I had just moved to New York by myself and was renting a studio. My family and friends were back in New Jersey, over an hour away. I attended school as a freshman in college about 30 minutes from my studio. It wasn’t very hard to make friends on campus but the relationships didn’t last very long. I would have to wait for certain weekends or events for my friends from home to come visit and stay but we all lived pretty busy lives and it wasn’t easy finding the time. I eventually became very lonely in NY by myself. I began working a Job that was 10 minutes from my place. I was working there for about 5 months before Mike, a seasoned manager was transferred to my location. I was in a leadership role as well and Mike was tasked with training me. He filled my void of being lonely as I would spend close to 5 days a week with him, training. He was always available to be contacted and we began communicating outside of work sharing similar thoughts, and frustrations and interests having to do with our line of work. “Most relationships start with Physical proximity” (Schneider et, al. 2012 pg. 355). Proximity encourages interaction and being near and accessible is sought after in relationships. The proximity effect is the tendency for psychical and psychological nearness that increases personal liking (Schneider et, al. 2012). This was the case for me and Mike, although we worked in the same company we would have never started a relationship if he was not transferred to work in my location. I would also have never approached Mike or started a conversation with him in any other circumstance. Mike and I shared a lot of time together as most days at work we were together. He was a seasoned manager and I was a new manager so I was drawn to him in many ways. Our work environment created a perceived similarity. We were both working on and discussing the same things every day, this made it seem as if we had many similarities. Hindsight now, We had nothing in common. In regards to attraction, we were opposites. The term opposites attract usually foster short-term relationships as it sparks excitement but lacks enough similarities to encourage anything long term. This may not be the case for everyone but it was my case. I was attracted to his knowledge and outlook at our job and the excitement that came with seeing him every day because he was not the typical guy I would attempt to date. He had a bad boy persona which I usually avoid like the plague, but my need to be close, the proximity, the situation of being in alone in NY, working with him daily, and our perceived similarities drew me to him. Eventually, I became attached to our relationship. I am a mixture of not needing a close relationship and prefer to rely on myself and liking being emotionally close to another person. I began to feel attached to Mike as we started hanging out outside of work. And when I would arrive at work and he wasn’t there, the days would be longer and I would miss his presence. We eventually began to rely on each other heavily. We spent almost every day together and he began staying over my place frequently. We would arrive to work together and leave together. One day though, he was transferred to another store out on Long Island, we didn’t see each other as much and our proximity was lost. We also didn’t have much to talk about in regards to work anymore being we were in two different locations. Once we needed to discuss other things involving our personal lives to maintain conversation it was apparent we did not have a lot in common. I also did not agree with a lot of his life choices, his bad boy appeal was also slowly fading away as I began to realize my maturity level greatly surpassed his. Eventually, his attachment felt like a burden which made me less attracted to him. I moved back to New Jersey and he was terminated from the company. It’s been seven years and I haven’t spoken to him since. People joke around with me today and say things like “What were you thinking” my response going forward will be “social psychology”.
Pennsylvania State University. (2017). Psych 424 Lesson 12: Relationships/Everyday Life. Retrieved from http://cms.psu.edu.
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, A.J, and Coutts, L.M (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE Pub.