Social Penetration Theory (SPT) is a practical method that entails maximum communication with regard to interpersonal communication. Hence it is gradual and progressive. Compare to eating a coconut, you must break the tough shell that encompasses the savoury fruit. Interpersonal communication moves from being relatively shallow to a deeper intimate one with a clearer understanding of each other.

Understanding the social penetration theory

For the social penetration theory to work, there must be mutual interest in growing the expected relationship whether professional or personal

Casual to intentional

Knowing an entity develops from casual realms to more intentional ones. Consider your first time, the conversation may be solely based on hobbies and the nitty-gritty of life. As much as this may be boring it is very necessary. The small laughs and minor details help you establish whether you can casually spend time or work with this person. It helps you form a basic structure of their personality.


Interpersonal relationships develop in a generally systematic and predictable manner. Half-truth half lies in my opinion. Life happens, you can never predict someone’s actions. But building your relationship with this person can be systematic. This is through boundaries. Establish those boundaries early in the relationship and progress as you get to know each other while breaking them down. You have to take things one step at a time to avoid setting unattainable goals and to avoid future regrets.

Wave-like movement

Relational development could move backwards, resulting in de-penetration and dissolution. It is human nature to disagree. Learn not to view disagreement from a negative perspective because that is when you truly get to know what that person is made of. Their true intention is exposed and you know exactly who you’re dealing with. An intentional person will be civil when it comes to solving the issue. You could agree to disagree without disrespecting each other.

However, if this is not the case, you must learn the art of detachment. Learn to let go


Lastly, Self-disclosure is the key to facilitate relationship development. This means disclosing and sharing personal information about yourself with others. Remember that communication is two-way traffic. For them to trust you, they have to be able to relate with you.

You have to learn to have faith that they will not use this information against you, that’s how you build relationships