“How love works: Proximity leads to intimacy, and intimacy leads to a relationship. In other words, people who are around each other a lot, get close, and end up hooking up. So it’s no great mystery why bosses and secretaries or co-workers or classmates end up dating each other.” – Oliver Gaspirtz

The most basic requirement for liking someone is to be around them. One of the greatest predictors of whether people will become friends is how often they come into contact with other. The more another person is physically in your presence, the better the chance they will like you.

There is a saying that ‘you can choose your friends, but not your family.’ However, it may be that your choice of friends isn’t totally within your conscious control either.

One of the classic experiments of the principle of proximity on attraction came from Festinger, Schachter and Back (1950). The group evaluated the pattern of friendships that developed among randomly-assigned residents of dormitories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They asked residents to name their three closest friends in all of the dormitories and found that physical proximity was the most important determinant of friendship choice.

When someone lived one door away, there was a 41% likelihood they were listed as a close friend. As the number of doors increased, that likelihood decreased such that those living four doors away had only a 10% likelihood of being listed as a close friend. This study demonstrates the importance that proximity, or being physically near others, has on relationship formation.

There are very basic and primitive instincts at work here. If I am in someone’s presence regularly and nothing bad happens, I will over time become less guarded and more open to them.


So if you want people to do business with you, it pays to be near them and, in turn, interacting with them as often as possible. It also supports the notion of focussing your marketing to your local geographic area. If you want to build relationships with referral partners and potential clients, you need to put in the time to be around them. Sitting in your office isn’t going to do it, you need to be nearby and visible.