THERE is A FUNDAMENTAL, powerful, and universal need or desire among humans to interact with others. As expressed by Afifi and Guerrero (2000:170): 'There is a long history of research establishing the importance that individuals place on connectedness… individuals' needs for initiating, developing and maintaining social ties, especially close ones, is reflected in a litany of studies and a host of theories.' The mere presence of another has been shown to be arousing and motivating and this in turn influences our behaviour-a process termed compresence (Burgoon et al., 1996). We behave differently in the company of another person from when alone. When we meet others we are 'onstage' and so give a performance that differs from how we behave 'offstage'.
We also enjoy interacting, and indeed the act of engaging in facilitative interpersonal communication has been shown to contribute to positive changes in emotional state (Gable and Shean, 2000). While our dealings with others can sometimes be problematic or even contentious, we also seek, relish, and obtain great reward from social interaction. Conversely, if we are unable to engage meaningfully with others, or are ostracised by them, the result is often loneliness, unhappiness and depression (Williams and Zadiro, 2001). This seemingly innate need for relationships with others has been termed sociation (Wolff, 1950). As Ryff and Singer (2000:31) put it: 'Across time and settings, people everywhere have subscribed to the view that close, meaningful ties to others is an essential feature of what it means to be fully human.' In other words, individuals need to commune with others.