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Nonverbal communication is an important element in close relationships. Nonverbal communication and behaviors are used to convey involvement, warmth, and affection. Its interpretation is based on the social context of the action. [1] It is said "to be more closely linked to relational quality than the verbal mode". [2]

Visual Behaviors

Visual behavior, also referred to as oculesics, is important in the establishment of interpersonal intimacy. One behavior is pupil dilation. When stimulated by something interesting or attractive, a person's pupils become dilated. While this is considered a cue of intimacy, it is one that has a low level of awareness. [3]

Proxemic Behaviors

Proxemics is defined as the way people perceive and use space. [4] Several years ago, four distance zones, including their measured distances, were identified as a function of types of interpersonal interaction. The closest zone was identified as the "intimate distance". The people allowed within this space are usually only one's children, closest friends, family members, and romantic partners. [5]

Along with the distance between partners, the body angle is another way in which intimacy is communicated. Facing someone is considered an intimate cue. Being at a 45 degree angle to someone, sitting next to them, or turning your back on a partner is considered less intimate. [6]



  1. Afifi, W.A., Anderson, P.A., Guerrero, L.K. (2007). Close Encounters. Los Angeles:SAGE Publications. (pp. 172).
  2. Montgomery. B.M. (1988). Quality communication in personal relationships. Im S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 343-362). New York: Wiley.
  3. Afifi, W.A., Anderson, P.A., Guerrero, L.K. (2007). Close Encounters. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications. (pp. 172-173).
  4. Ottenheimer, H.J. (2009). The Anthropology of Language. Belmont: Wadsworth.
  5. Hall, E.T. (1968). Proxemics. Current Anthropology, 9, 83-109.
  6. Afifi, W.A., Anderson, P.A., Guerrero, L.K. (2007). Close Encounters. Los Angeles: SAGE Publishing (pp. 173)