How Might The Way We Communicate In The Various Relationships We Have Influence Our Behavior
Communication is important in relationships as it allows people to share interests, aspirations and concerns; support each other; organize lives and make decisions; and work together in caring for children as a team. Effective relationships are about the way people talk and listen, and about our body language. Everyone has different relationship. Some relationships are with family member, some are with friends and some are love relationships. Each relationship is different, and all relationship change over time as the people within them grow and develop. Moreover, relationships exhibit both form and function. Form refers to the recognized types of relationships acknowledged within particular cultural environment. Function refers to the personal, social, and cultural tasks that relationships perform-the things they do or provide for their members and the broader social order (Burleson, 2003, p. 4).
Relationship forms and function are deeply intertwined, with particular types of relationships associated with the performance of certain functions (Burleson, 2003, p. 4). Interpersonal relationships are social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. They vary in different levels of intimacy and sharing; implying the discovery or establishment of common ground, and may be centered on something shared in common. Intimacy is achieved when people become close to someone else and are reassured that they are loved and accepted for who they are. The amount of time two individuals spent together, the variety of things they do together, and the degree of perceived influence each has on other are all essentials of close relationships (Hinde, 1997, p. 57).
Intimacy is a special dimension of interpersonal relationship. It has several dimensions: affinity, respect, immediacy, and control (Adler & Rodman, 2006, p.190). Affinity is the degree to which people appreciate or like each other and is one dimension of relational communication. Respect is the degree to which people admire others and hold them in esteem. Affinity and respect are different. For example, people may respect their boss without liking him. Immediacy is defined as degree of interest and attraction people feel toward and communicate to others. Another dimension of relational communication is control, which is the amount of influence communicators seek to influence their partners. An unequal distribution of control will not cause problems as long as everyone involved accepts that arrangement.
Intimacy can have various qualities: physical, intellectual sharing, emotional disclosure, and shared activities (Adler & Rodman, 2006, p. 193). In intimate relationships there is often, but not always, an implicit or explicit agreement that the partners will not have sex with someone else –monogamy. The extent to which physical intimacy with other people is accepted varies. For example, a girlfriend may be more receptive to her boyfriend being physically affectionate with his male friends than with his female friends. Moreover, physical intimacy does not necessarily contain sexual or romantic dimension. For example, greeting hugs and kisses are other form of physical intimacy.
Additionally, sometimes intimacy comes from intellectual sharing when engage another person in an exchange of important ideas, a kind of closeness develops. Otherwise, simply discussing the midterm with one’s professor is not very likely to forge strong relational bonds. Exchanging important feelings and thoughts to others are likely to qualitatively enhance relationships. Emotional exchange allows people to provide ego or emotional support and providing comfort to others. It was found that both men and women are more likely to seek support from women than men because women are more likely to use highly person-centered emotional support strategies than men (Burleson, 2003, p. 19). Furthermore, shared activities could provide a way to achieve intimate state. Although shared activities does not guarantee intimacy, people who spend time together could develop unique ways of transform the relationship from an impersonal one that could be done with anyone to one with interpersonal qualities (Adler & Rodman, 2006, p. 194).
Although both men and women seek intimacy from their close relationships, there is a gender difference of valuing close relationships. Women value close relationships for their emotional and expressive qualities; whereas men primarily conceptualize close relationships in terms of their instrumental features (Burleson, 2003, p.5). It has commonly believed that women are better at developing and maintaining intimate relationships than men; and also men are less comfortable with intimacy (Alder & Rodman, 2006, p. 194; Delerga, 1984, p. 214). Studies also have shown that disclosure of personal information is the most important ingredient of intimacy. Women were found to disclose far more personal information to others than men do in casual encounter. It was suggested that because of the socialization practice in many societies have been encouraging women to show feelings; whereas, men have been taught to hide feelings and avoid displaying weakness (Delerga, 1984, p. 214). Men and women sometimes value and express intimacy differently. Although men and women did not differ in how much they are willing to confide in their partners, there is a difference in what men and women are willing to share with the one they love (Delerga, 1984, p. 215). Men are more willing to share their views on politics and their pride in their strengths; whereas, women are more likely to disclose their feelings about other people and their fears (Delerga, 1984, p. 215).
In addition, cultural background influences how people communicate intimacy. Ideas about the nature of love are socially constructed; therefore, the idea of romantic love is present to different extents in different cultures (Hinde, 1997, p. 443). In the culture that emphasizes the value of certain attributes for inducing love in an opposite sex partner, an individual will be more likely to seek out such a partner and more likely to label one’s feelings as love and act as lover when one finds one (Hinde, 1997, p. 439). Moreover, studies found that romantic love is more important as a basis of marriage in societies where economic dependence between the spouses is weak, and where there is a marked imbalance in the levels of food production by men and women (Hinde, 1997, p. 440). It was suggested that difference between collectivist and individualistic orientation at both cultural and individual levels do indeed appear to be important in relation to the emphasis on romantic love (Hinde, 1997, p. 440). This leads to the assumption that attitudes to love may be related to other aspects of the culture, such as individualism versus collectivism. It was found that romantic love is seen as less important for marriage tend to be in collectivistic societies, such as in China or India; whereas, in individualistic societies romantic love tend to emphasis the freedom to the individual to seek personal gratification and development through relationships, and to pay great attention to the emotion experience in them (Hinde, 1997, p. 440). The notion of romantic love fits less well in collectivist societies, where individuals are expected to place a high priority on obligations to others (e.g., family network and inter-connected relationships), while romantic love fits with a more individualistic orientation (Hinde, 1997, p. 440).
Intimacy is a powerful need for most people. Intimacy can be created and expressed in numerous ways: physically, emotionally, intellectually, and through shared activities. The notion of levels of intimacy has varied according to culture and gender. Studies found that women are better at developing and maintaining close relationships than men as women are more willing to disclose personal information, which is the most important ingredient of intimacy. Moreover, women value close relationships for their emotional and expressive qualities; whereas, men value them for their instrumental features. For example, a mechanism for getting things done, or accomplishing instrumental tasks. Furthermore, the notion of how much intimacy is desired and to express it varies from one culture to another. Romantic love is more likely to be found in societies where economic dependence between the spouses is weak and in individualistic culture. This is due to the differences that individualistic cultures’ emphasis on freedom to the individual to seek personal gratification and pay great attention to emotional experiences than collectivist societies. Collectivist societies emphasize inter-connected relationships and expects individual to place a high priority on obligation to others. Therefore, romantic and intimate relationship fit better in individualistic culture.
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