Social Relationships

Posted on: 12th May 2023


The subject for the essay is Close Friend and the Theory is Social Relationships


For this assignment, you will write an essay centered around one of the interpersonal communication theories or concepts we’ve discussed in class (from chapters 1, 3, 4-5, 7-8). Specifically, you will use that theory to analyze a specific interpersonal relationship in your life. In doing so, you have two choices:

  • Choose a significant social or intimate relationship in your life, including a close friend, family member, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, or co-worker.
  • Or, you may write about a couple (romantic or platonic) that’s a part of your life (such as your grandparents or parents) and analyze their relationship with one of the aforementioned theories.

After you decide on the subject and the theory, follow these guidelines in writing the paper:

  • In the first paragraph, introduce the theory you will be using and the subject of your essay. In doing so, you’ll need to briefly define the theory and explain why you chose your subject. Also, provide a clear thesis statement for the assignment: What is the overall argument you are trying to make in the paper?
  • For the rest of the essay, you’ll need to discuss the relationship you’ve chosen by describing it and then explaining how it fits the particular theory in question. For example, if you choose to write about your grandparent’s longtime marriage, you can use the theory of dialectical tensions to explain why that marriage has lasted for so long. Accordingly, walk through the different parts of the theory and, using examples, from their marriage, demonstrate why the theory best explains their relationship. This part of the analysis should be the longest part of your essay, and you should be prepared to use a few examples make your point. These examples should reinforce the thesis you presented in the first paragraph.
  • For the essay’s conclusion, you will provide one or two paragraphs summarizing your ideas and explaining what you’ve learned from the exercise—specifically in terms of what the essay has taught you about the nature of interpersonal relationships.

Please follow the following guidelines with the assignment:

  • The assignment should be 3-4 pages and you should use 12-font and 1-inch margins. In other words, do not “play” with the margins or the paper font. NO FLUFF—your analysis should be thoughtful and legitimate.  
  • NOTE: Please double space the assignment.
  • You should use your text as a reference for the assignment, but you are required to use at least one more source for the assignment. When using both sources, be sure to cite them in the paper using either the current APA or MLA style manual. For example, I would expect you to cite your book when defining the theory you’ve chosen in the first paragraph.
  • The paper should be well written, error-free, with a clear introduction, body and summary/conclusion. PLEASE PROOFREAD!
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Social Penetration

Social penetration theory tries to evaluate the differences that may be in communication depending on the depth level of interrelationships. In seeking to comprehend the relationships between individuals, Psychologists Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor formulated this theory on the basis that relationships commence and deepen through self-disclosure (Guerrero, Andersen and Afifi110). That is people will disclose simple facts at the beginning, but the rate of disclosure of information will become more intimate as the relationship develops. This theory helped me to recall how the relationship with my close friend, Kevin played out. From that relationship, I can deduce that increasing self-disclosure aided our close friendship to grow.

In a snip peak, the psychologists likened the self-disclosure process to the action of peeling onion layers with entail both the breadth and depth attributes. Breath is an individual life’s facets like speech and physical appearance while depth is more intimate information like feelings and thoughts on issues within the surrounding (Guerrero, Andersen and Afifi 110). In resembling the peeling action of onion layer, Taylor and Altman developed various stages of self-disclosure to explain the social penetration theory. The stages in self-disclosure process are an oriental stage, exploratory affective stage, Affective stage, stable stage, and de-penetration (Lane 263).

I saw these five stages of self-disclosure actively play in my relationship with my best friend, Kevin. At first, when I met Kevin, it was in our sociology class the beginning of the first semester. He was talking with one of the classmates who laughed as he was narrating to him a story. The laugher was a direct indication that Kevin was humorous and someone easily likeable. He was neat and admirable for a friend since I did not have many friends. I got acquainted with him at the end of the class as we discussed a controversial topic on morality that we had been taught on that particular day. This was the orientation stage of our relationship where there was the first impression and then a simple peripheral talk like the onion’s outer layer (Nicotera 74).

Later, the relationship began to develop as time went by and then we started discussing together on the general topics about life. I remember we shared opinions on some of the topics which we saw were interesting during the class. We even helped each other in solving some of the assignments that proved cryptic during the class time. It was a good mutual relationship at that time as we were able to spend most of our free time either talking a lot together or revising some of the classwork. However, nobody was able to reveal each other’s information. At that point, our relationship was at the Exploratory Affective stage where the communication delved on common shared general information in a casual way but with no disclosure of personal information(Lane 264).

As the semester was near a close, we started feeling comfortable relating in a much deeper level. We were comfortable taking together in a casual language and even, we even labeled each other nick names depending on what we felt about each other. Some of our classmates who were also friends to him even thought we were siblings or have some family relationship in the way we interacted and played together. It even grew to the point where we began revealing personal and private matters to each other. He told me that he is sometimes shy to confront and speak to a large crowd like the usual school debates but was comfortable talking to one or two people. Additionally, we started sharing a lot of information about his family background. At one instance, I heard him mention that his mother had a Hispanic background while his father had a Chinese background. He said that his father had an extrovert background which made him a talkative person while her mother was talkative but strict. At this stage, the relationship we had was on an affective stage where we were free to talk to each other in an unconventional manner through a more casual language (Guerrero, Andersenand Afifi 111). Later on, we got very affectionate to the point that we were able to disclose each other’s personal and private matters.

As we went on holiday after the semester, our friendship grew to another new level. We were able to share with each belief, values, and thoughts regarding several things in life. Even at the holiday duration, we attended together any social gathering or fraternity parties that we were invited without leaving each other behind. To keep other people from understanding what we were saying in our communication, we came up with some sought of non-verbal communication where we utilized kinetics to exchange vital information (Nicotera 74). We were able to read and understand each other's minds comprehensively. We would respond in various situations through facial expressions like eye stares, lip twists and posture movements that left many people wondering what we were communicating.

At some point, we usually had the same response in issues in various subjects during our classwork, and we could understand each other well without verbalizing. It was as if we were thinking on the same wavelength since we were able to nearly predict how each one would react in a given scenario. Up to now we still laugh and attend parties together and even consult with each other on the dress code to put on for any event. Since then till now my close relationship with Kevin has matured, and it is now in the stable stage (Nicotera75). We are now can communicate express our deepest emotions and thoughts openly to the point we can tell each other’s next action.

However, there we are a bit worried that our relationship can soon start to diminish. We are getting preoccupied with some events in our family and the increase in the number of assignments is making us a lot busy. There are personal challenges that each one of us is facing that are proving to be stressful for each one of us. I even heard that her parents wanted to move to a new location and that may make him transfer to another college. A bit of dishonesty also seems to be creeping into our relationship. There was an instance where he had other colleagues gossiping negative rumors about me, but he was reluctant to disclose. Such scenario risks our relationship going to the de-penetration stage where we begin to withdraw disclosure amongst ourselves (Lane 265).

According to the psychologist, self-disclosure increases in breadth and depth as the stages continue in the social penetration theory. My friendship with Kevin has undergone most of these stages, and the relationship has expanded and deepened through these stages. It is now in the stable stage where we can enjoy each other’s company fully. Social penetration theory has aided me to understand the stages that a close friendship takes so as to avoid our relationship from entering a de-penetration stage and plummet to a level where it disintegrates.

Works Cited

Guerrero, Laura K, Peter A. Andersen, and Walid A. Afifi. Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships. , 2013. Internet resource.

Lane, Shelley D. Interpersonal communication: Competence and contexts. Routledge, 2016.

Nicotera, Anne M. Interpersonal Communication in Friend and Mate Relationships. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1993. Print.

Jordan Barney

Jordan Barney

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