It is common knowledge to any communications students that intimate space is the space in the 0-18 inches range. For the most part, this intimate space is most often reserved for romantic partners. In Manusov and Patterson’s text, they point out the fact that people are more likely to sit closer to a romantic partner than their own friends (Manusov and Patterson, 265). One term in particular that is crutial in understanding the proxemics in relationships is the term interpersonal distance. Manusov and Patterson define this term as the physical space between two people (Manusov and Patterson, 265). The closeness or distance between two people can directly reflect the relationship between the two people. If two people are very close then their interpersonal distance will be an indicator of this because they will close the space between themselves. But, if two people are very distant then it can almost always be assumed that they are not close in their relationship. Proxemics are very important in a relationship because research has shown that being close to one another can have a positive effect on the relationship. In romantic relationships, one can also observe differences between couples that have recently come together versus couples that have been dating for a substantially longer amount of time. In the beginning of a relationship, the couple tends to be touchier than a couple that has been together a longer amount of time. When relationships begin to break down and a couple is headed for a break up, the proxemics of the relationship changes dramatically. The couple can appear disengaged and are hardly ever touching one another. While proxemics may not be a hot topic among relationship professionals, they can be a major indicator of closeness and can be a large help when trying to decipher relationship levels between two people.
Manusov, Valerie Lynn, and Miles L. Patterson. The SAGE Handbook Of Nonverbal Communication. Sage Publications, Inc, 2006.