In this post, we’ll explore the paradoxical phenomenon of Distance versus Closeness in the context of relationships, by unpacking the science and how we can use it to create and maintain attraction.
Distance Versus Closeness
Have you ever observed a child run off to explore and then run back to check their parents are still there? Their need for security allows them to venture off and explore. Once they have satisfied their needs for exploration they want to come back to reconnect.
The same applies to relationships. Relationships are a dance between distance and closeness. Between certainty and uncertainty. Between dependence and independence. They are a dance between predictability and unpredictability. Between familiarity and unfamiliarity. Between the need to feel secure and the need to explore. As the sayings go, familiarity breeds contempt while distance makes the heart grow fonder.
In fact, research shows that women are more attracted and think most about men who inspire feelings of uncertainty and anxiety and whose feelings about them are unknown.
Attraction, Distance & Closeness
Attraction requires both distance and closeness. Distance generates the desire to connect which creates closeness. Closeness generates the desire to disconnect which creates distance. This creates a self-reinforcing cycle.
When together, a man’s levels of testosterone decrease and a woman’s levels of oestrogen decrease which creates the need to disconnect to raise those levels back up.
When two people are apart, oxytocin is released in the brain. Oxytocin is a pleasure hormone associated with love and bonding.
Therefore, the longer two people are apart, the more oxytocin that is released. The more oxytocin that is released, the more the feelings of love and longing that are generated. This process ultimately culminates in the desire for both people to reconnect.
Furthermore, uncertainty creates fear. Fear activates the release of endorphins, cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, causing wave after wave of anxiety and sexual tension.
“Distance creates uncertainty which creates desire and so the amount of attraction we feel towards someone is in direct proportion to how much uncertainty we can live with.“
The Key To Maintaining Attraction
The key to maintaining attraction in relationships is maintaining the dance of distance and closeness. While distance creates desire, closeness creates connection. However, too little or too much of either can send a relationship on a downward spiral. Therefore, the key, as with almost anything in life, is balance and that balance is unique to each couple.
“Love seeks knowing. Desire seeks mystery. When there is nothing left to know, there is nothing left to desire.”
All relationships require both distance and closeness. While closeness creates connection, distance creates desire. The dance between these two factors will determine whether attraction either thrives or dies.