Do we use the Social Penetration Theory when it comes to a romantic relationship compared to a relationship with a friend?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romantic and friendship attachments can be and are viewed differently by people in understanding the role of the social penetration theory.  For the most part, I would say that there is a greater chance of emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship than in the relationship with a friend.  This helps to bring out the idea that the social penetration theory is more evident in the romantic association.  In the romantic association, the intimacy increases because of the emotions triggered.  The need to open up and divulge information that would not necessarily be shared with the larger public is evident because of the emotional quotient that is seen in the relationship.  This level of emotional quotient might not be present in the traditional notion of a "friend."  At the same time, the idea of sharing that which is not shared with the general public is a part of the emotional investment needed in a traditional romantic relationship in order to differentiate itself from a traditional friendship.  It is precisely because a romantic relationship is different from a traditional friendship that the social penetration theory is more evident.  The different labels and way in which individuals understand themselves and one another is where the social penetration theory becomes more realized.