Intimate relationship


Intimate relationship

An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship that involves physical and/or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual relationship.

Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience.[1] Humans have a universal want to belong and to love which is satisfied within an intimate relationship.[2] Intimate relationships consist of the people that we are attracted to, whom we like and love, romantic and sexual relationships, and those whom we marry and provide and receive emotional and personal support from.[1] Intimate relationships provide people with a social network of people that provide strong emotional attachments and fulfill our universal need of belonging and the need to be cared for.[1]

Contents

Intimacy

Intimacy generally refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together. It is a familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other. Genuine intimacy in human relationships requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity. As a verb "intimate" means "to state or make known". The activity of intimating (making known) underpins the meanings of "intimate" when used as a noun and adjective. As a noun, an "intimate" is a person with whom we have a particularly close relationship. This was clarified by Dalton (1959) who discusses how anthropologists and ethnographic researchers access "inside information" from within a particular cultural setting by establishing networks of intimates capable (and willing) to provide information unobtainable through formal channels.[3] As an adjective, "intimate" indicates detailed knowledge of a thing or person (e.g. "an intimate knowledge of engineering" and "an intimate relationship between two people").[4]

In human relationships, the meaning and level of intimacy varies within and between relationships. In anthropological research, intimacy is considered the product of a successful seduction, a process of rapport building that enables parties to confidently disclose previously hidden thoughts and feelings. Intimate conversations become the basis for "confidences" (secret knowledge) that bind people together.[5][6] Developing an intimate relationship typically takes a considerable amount of time (months and years, rather than days or weeks) and both anthropologists and zoologists have tracked the subliminal changes in body language as rapport develops between two or more people.[7]

To sustain intimacy for any length of time requires well-developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. Intimacy requires an ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship. Murray Bowen called this "self-differentiation". It results in a connection in which there is an emotional range involving both robust conflict, and intense loyalty.[8] Lacking the ability to differentiate oneself from the other is a form of symbiosis, a state that is different from intimacy, even if feelings of closeness are similar.

From a center of self knowledge and self differentiation intimate behavior joins family, close friends as well as those in love. It evolves through reciprocal self-disclosure and candor. Poor skills in developing of intimacy can lead to getting too close too quickly; struggling to find the boundary and to sustain connection; being poorly skilled as a friend, rejecting self-disclosure or even rejecting friendships and those who have them.[9]

Scholars distinguish between different forms of intimacy,[10] principally: emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy, particularly in sexual relationships, typically develops after physical bonds have been established. "Falling in love", however, has both a biochemical dimension, driven through reactions in the body stimulated by sexual attraction (PEA),[11] and a social dimension driven by "talk" that follows from regular physical closeness and/or sexual union.[12]

It is worth distinguishing intimate (communal) relationships from strategic (exchange) relationships. Physical intimacy occurs in the latter but it is governed by a higher-order strategy, of which the other person may not be aware. One example is getting close to someone in order to get something from them or give them something. That "something" might not be offered so freely if it did not appear to be an intimate exchange and if the ultimate strategy had been visible at the outset.[13] Mills and Clark (1982) found that strategic (exchange) relationships are fragile and easily break down when there is any level of disagreement. Emotionally intimate (communal) relationships are much more robust and can survive considerable (and even ongoing) disagreements.

In new relationships, sexual intimacy may develop slowly and in a predictable way. Research by Desmond Morris, a behavioral psychologist, found that most new relationships followed 12 predictable steps on the path to sexual intimacy. Couples that rushed through the steps or skipped steps were most likely to break up. The 12 steps he identified (in order) are: Eye to Body, Eye to Eye, Voice to Voice, Hand to Hand, Arm to Shoulder, Arm to Waist, Mouth to Mouth, Hand to Head, Hand to Body, Mouth to Breast, Hand to Genitals, and finally, Sexual Intercourse.[citation needed]

Physical and emotional intimacy

Love is an important factor in physical and emotional intimate relationships. Love is qualitatively and quantitatively different to liking, and the difference is not merely in the presence or absence of sexual attraction. There are two types of love in a relationship; passionate love and companionate love. Companionate love involves diminished potent feelings of attachment, an authentic and enduring bond, a sense of mutual commitment, the profound feeling of mutual caring, feeling proud of a mate's accomplishment, and the satisfaction that comes from sharing goals and perspective. In contrast, passionate love is marked by infatuation, intense preoccupation with the partner, strong sexual longing, throes of ecstasy, and feelings of exhilaration that come from being reunited with the partner.[14]

People who are in an intimate relationship with one another are often called a couple, especially if the members of that couple have ascribed some degree of permanency to their relationship. Such couples often provide the emotional security that is necessary for them to accomplish other tasks, particularly forms of labor or work.

History of intimate relationships

Ancient philosophers: Aristotle

Ancient philosophers mused over ideas of marital satisfaction, faithfulness, beauty and jealousy although their concepts and understandings were often inaccurate or misleading.[1]

Over 2,300 years ago, interpersonal relationships were being contemplated by Aristotle. He wrote: "One person is a friend to another if he is friendly to the other and the other is friendly to him in return" (Aristotle, 330 BC, trans. 1991, pp. 72–73). Aristotle believed that by nature humans are social beings.[2] Aristotle also suggested that there were three different types of relationships. People are attracted to relationships that provide utility because of the assistance and sense of belonging that they provide. In relationships based on pleasure, people are attracted to the feelings of pleasantness and that they are engaging. However, relationships based on utility and pleasure were said to be short-lived if the benefits provided by one of the partners was not reciprocated. In relationships based on virtue, we are attracted to others' virtuous character. Aristotle also suggested that relationships based on virtue would be the longest lasting and that virtue-based relationships were the only type of relationship in which each partner was liked for themselves. Although Aristotle put forth much consideration about relationships, as like many other ancient philosophers, he did not use systematic methods and therefore could not conclude that his thoughts and ideas were correct.[1] The philosophical analysis used by Aristotle dominated the analysis of intimate relationships until the late 1880s.[15]

1880s to early 1900s

Modern psychology and sociology began to emerge in the late 19th century. During this time theorists often included relationships into their current areas of research and began to develop new foundations which had implications in regards to the analysis of intimate relationships.[15] Freud wrote about parent–child relationships and their effect on personality development.[2] Freud's analysis proposed that people's childhood experiences are transferred or passed on into adult relationships by means of feelings and expectations.[15] Freud also founded the idea that individuals usually seek out marital partners who are similar to that of their opposite-sex parent.[15]

In 1891, James wrote that a person's self concept is defined by the relationships we endure with others.[2] In 1897, Durkheim's interest in social organization led to the examination of social isolation and alienation.[2] This was an influential discovery of intimate relationships in that Durkheim argued that being socially isolated was a key antecedent of suicide.[2] This focus on the darker side of relationships and the negative consequences associated to social isolation were what Durkheim labeled as anomie.[15] Simmel wrote about dyads, or partnerships with two people, and examined their unique properties in the 1950s.[1] Simmel suggested that dyads require consent and engagement of both partners to maintain the relationship but noted that the relationship can be ended by the initiation of only one partner.[15] Although the theorists mentioned above sought support for their theories, their primary contributions to the study of intimate relationships were conceptual and not empirically grounded.[1]

The Rise of Empiricism

The use of empirical investigations in 1898 was a major revolution in social analysis.[15] A study conducted by Monroe,[16] examined the traits and habits of children in selecting a friend. Some of the attributes included in the study were kindness, cheerfulness and honesty.[1] Monroe asked 2336 children aged 7 to 16 to identify "what kind of chum do you like best?" The results of the study indicate that children preferred a friend that was their own age, of the same sex, same in size physically, a friend with light features (hair and eyes), friends that did not engage in conflict, someone that was kind to animals and humans and finally that they were honest. The two characteristics that children reported as least important included wealth and religion.[16]

The study by Monroe was the first to mark the significant shift in the study of intimate relationships from analysis that was primarily philosophical to those with empirical validity.[1] This study is said to have finally marked the beginning of relationship science.[1] However, in the years following Monroe's influential study, very few similar studies were done. There were limited studies done on children's friendships, courtship and marriages and families in the 1930s but few relationship studies were conducted before or during World War II.[15] Intimate relationships did not become a broad focus of research again until the 1960s and 1970s when there was a vast amount of relationship studies being published.[1]

1960s and 1970s

An important shift was taking place in the field of social psychology that influenced the research of intimate relationships. Up until the late 1950s, the majority of studies were non-experimental.[15] By the end of the 1960s more than half of the articles published involved some sort of experimental manipulation.[15] The '60s was also a time when there was a shift in methodology within the psychological discipline itself. Participants consisted mostly of college students, experimental methods and research was being conducted in laboratories and the experimental method was the dominant methodology in social psychology.[15] Experimental manipulation within the research of intimate relationships demonstrated that relationships could be studied scientifically.[1] This shift brought relationship science to the attention of scholars in other disciplines and has resulted in the study of intimate relationships being an international multidiscipline.[1]

1980s to 2000s

In the early 1980s the first conference of the International Network of Personal Relationships (INPR) was held. Approximately 300 researchers from all parts of the world attended the conference.[15] In March 1984, the first journal of Social and Personal Relationships was published.[15] In the early 1990s the INPR split off into two groups, however in April 2004 the two organizations rejoined and became the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR).[1]

2010s

Today, the study of intimate relationships (relationship science) uses participants from diverse samples and examines a wide variety of topics that include family relations, friendships, and romantic relationships, usually over a long period.[1] Current study includes both positive and negative or unpleasant aspects of relationships.

Research being conducted by John Gottman and his colleagues involves inviting married couples into a pleasant setting, in which they revisit the disagreement that caused their last argument. Although the participants are aware that they are being videotaped, they soon become so absorbed in their own interaction that they forget they are being recorded.[1] With the second-by-second analysis of observable reactions as well as emotional ones, Gottman is able to predict with 93% accuracy the fate of the couples' relationship.[1]

Another current area of research into intimate relationships is conducted by Terri Orbuch and Joseph Veroff (2002). They monitor newlywed couples using self-reports over a long period (a longitudinal study). Participants are required to provide extensive reports about the natures and the statusses of their relationships.[1] Although many of the marriages have ended since the beginning of the study, this type of relationship study allows researchers to track marriages from start to finish by conducting follow-up interviews with the participants in order to determine which factors are associated with marriages that last and which with those that do not.[1] Though the field of relationship science is still relatively young, research conducted by researchers from many different disciplines continues to broaden the field.[1]

One study suggests that married straight couples and cohabiting gay and lesbian couples in long-term intimate relationships may pick up each others' unhealthy habits. The study reports three distinct findings showing how unhealthy habits are promoted in long-term, intimate relationships: through the direct bad influence of one partner, through synchronicity of health habits, and through the notion of personal responsibility.[17] [18]

Universal themes

bonding

This section lists the universal themes from relationship books, all of the themes in this list appear in all of the books. These universal themes are: love, kindness, bonding, intimacy, communication, attachment, cheerfulness, reflectiveness and parenting.

The intimate partners

Terms for partners in intimate relationships include:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Miller, Rowland & Perlman, Daniel (2008). Intimate Relationships (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0073370187
  2. ^ a b c d e f Perlman, D. (2007). The best of times, the worst of times: The place of close relationships in psychology and our daily lives. Canadian Psychology, 48, 7–18.
  3. ^ Dalton, M. (1959) Men Who Manage, New York: Wiley.
  4. ^ Ridley-Duff, R.J. (2010) Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy: Alternative Perspectives on Human Behaviour (Third Edition), Seattle: Libertary Editions, ISBN 978-1-935961-00-0
  5. ^ Moore, M. (1985) "Nonverbal Courtship Patterns in Women: Contact and Consequences", Ethnology and Sociobiology, 6: 237–247.
  6. ^ Ridley-Duff, R.J. (2005) "Interpersonal Dynamics: A Communitarian Perspective", paper to the 1st ENROAC-MCA Conference 7th–9th April, Antwerp.
  7. ^ Morris, D. (2002) People Watching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language, Vintage.
  8. ^ Aronson, E. (2003) The Social Animal, Ninth Edition, New York: Worth Publishers.
  9. ^ Vitalio, D. (2005) Be Your Woman's Hero, not Wuss: Part 1, internet newsletter 21st April 2005.
  10. ^ Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Basingstoke: Palgrave
  11. ^ Lowndes, L. (1996) How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You, London: Element.
  12. ^ Giddens, A. (1990) The Consequences of Modernity, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
  13. ^ Mills, J., Clark, K. (1982) "Exchange and communal relationships" in L. Wheeler (ed) Review of personality and social psychology (Vol III), Beverly Hills: Sage.
  14. ^ Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R.L. (1993). Historical and cross-cultural perspectives on passionate love and sexual desire. Annual Review of Sex Research, 4, 67–97
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Vangelisti, A.L., & Perlman, D. (2006). The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  16. ^ a b Monroe, W.S. (1898). Discussion and reports. Social consciousness in children. Psychological Review, 15, 68–70.
  17. ^ Fuller, Dawn. "Long-Term, Intimate Partnerships Can Promote Unhealthy Habits". UC News online Aug, 18, 2011. http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=14061. Retrieved Aug, 26, 2011. 
  18. ^ Reczek, Corinne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. "The Promotion of Unhealthy Habits in Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Intimate Partnerships". Tue, Aug 23, 2011 - 12:30pm - 2:10pm. 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. http://www.asanet.org/am2011/programschedule.cfm. Retrieved Aug 26, 2011. 

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • intimate relationship — close relationship, strong bond …   English contemporary dictionary

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  • intimate — 01. Ken was fired after it was discovered that he was having an [intimate] relationship with a co worker. 02. She wrote a book describing all the [intimate] details of her love affairs with several famous Hollywood stars. 03. Samantha and her… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • intimate — in|ti|mate1 [ ıntımət ] adjective ▸ 1 very close to someone ▸ 2 private/personal ▸ 3 about places/situations ▸ 4 relating to relationships ▸ 5 closely connected ▸ + PHRASES 1. ) an intimate friend is someone who you know very well and like very… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • intimate — I UK [ˈɪntɪmət] / US adjective 1) an intimate friend is someone who you know very well and like very much Only intimate friends were invited to their wedding. 2) relating to very private or personal things The magazine published intimate details… …   English dictionary

  • intimate — [ˈɪntɪmət] adj I 1) an intimate friend is someone who you know very well and like very much Syn: close 2) relating to very private or personal things The magazine published intimate details of their affair.[/ex] 3) private and friendly and making …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • intimate — in|ti|mate1 [ˈıntımıt] adj ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(restaurant/meal/place)¦ 2¦(friends)¦ 3 intimate knowledge of something 4¦(private)¦ 5¦(sex)¦ 6 intimate link/connection etc ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ [Date: 1600 1700; Origin: intime intimate (1600 1700), from Latin intimus;… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • intimate — intimates, intimating, intimated (The adjective and noun are pronounced [[t]ɪ̱ntɪmət[/t]]. The verb is pronounced [[t]ɪ̱ntɪmeɪt[/t]].) 1) ADJ GRADED: usu ADJ n If you have an intimate friendship with someone, you know them very well and like them …   English dictionary

  • intimate — 1. adj. & n. adj. 1 closely acquainted; familiar, close (an intimate friend; an intimate relationship). 2 private and personal (intimate thoughts). 3 (usu. foll. by with) having sexual relations. 4 (of knowledge) detailed, thorough. 5 (of a… …   Useful english dictionary


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