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Let’s face it, she is just not that into you October 30, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Love, Relationship.
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Unpeel the layersOk, let’s talk about personal relationships for a minute. Have you seen this pattern? You meet someone and begin to get to know him or her. One of you reveals a little something about yourself and the other will reciprocate. Maybe you started first and said something like, “my mother died when I was very young. It has shaped a lot of what I think and feel today.” Because you opened up and exposed yourself a bit, your friend follows suite. He or she may respond with, “I was close to my grandparents. They died in a horrible car crash and that too has been life changing to me.”  From there, one or the other may reveal something even deeper about themselves and the other will reciprocate. This is a common exchange that we find in personal relationship development. This revealing of personal thoughts, feelings and values may continue as the relationship grows. Trust is also built between the two participants. If the relationship fits the sexual preference of the two, this relationship can become intimate. If not, it can become just a deep friendship.

This is a phenomenon that is explained by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor in their Social Penetration Theory. Altman and Taylor explain that this mutual self-disclosure process is similar to peeling layers off of an onion. As more layers (of the mutual personalities) are uncovered, the deeper the relationship becomes as each person becomes more transparent to the other.

The key to all of this mutual revelation is that the relationship must grow equally in trust and exposure. Anything else will cause an imbalance in the relationship. If one person either stops the process, or reverses the process (closes up and returns to a more platonic exchange) then the other will more than likely begin to cover his/her layers as well.  The relationship eventually ends.

The bottom line here, and my point, is that relationships take conscious effort. Mutual trust and understanding does not develop in a passive vacuum but thrives in active mutual exchange between willing participants. If you meet a person that you think you might want to explore a deeper relationship with, peel off a layer. If the other reciprocates, according to Altman and Taylor’s theory of Social Penetration, a closer bond will develop. If the other person does not reciprocate, Social Penetration Theory states that it is quite possible that there is not a mutual desire to go deeper.

Unfortunately, you may need to face that he or she may just not be that into you.

References:

Griffin, E. (2006). A first look at communication theory. NY: McGraw Hill.

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Comments»

1. BigLittleWolf - October 31, 2009

Very well expressed. But the problem I have with the glib “She’s just not that into you” is that it’s become so easy to toss that line out there, without considering that there may be other factors involved when a person ceases to provide revelations, or actively engage in the relationship in the same way.

Sometimes life throws things at us that demand our attention and energy. They are about financial or emotional survival. Or about our kids. And single parents must take care of their kids.

In marriage, there are times when the relationship is passionate or romantic; other times when it becomes more like platonic friends, and then it swings back into a more romantic arena. Why are we so quick to toss away relationships, not allowing for them to dip into the deep friendship arena for a time, when life is presenting other priorities that must be addressed?

jassnight - October 31, 2009

I am the first to agree with you. Relationship building is so complex that it is hard to box into one “theory.” My mission with this blog is to give people a grounding based on theory so that there is a starting point to evaluate life change, careers, and relationships. At one point I found myself floundering in a sea of confusion and finding perspectives grounded in previous research gave me something to hold onto (and still does.) I appreciate your comments. Please keep them coming!


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