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Intimacy defined

Intimacy may be viewed in different ways. Its meaning could vary between people, the orientation of the relationship and the type of relationship. Depending on the relationship, intimacy does not directly refer to the sexual relationship or the sexual interactions prevailing in the relationship. Intimacy could refer to the level of closeness and the type of relationship existing between individuals. According to Schaefer and Olson (1981), through their exploratory study of ‘lay people’s views, there are categories related to intimacy on the basis of closeness and the experiences shared.

These categories are: (1) emotional, (2) sexual, (3) social, (4) intellectual, and (5) recreational. The emotional category pertains to experiencing feelings of closeness. This category coves the level in which the individuals feel the appreciation of being listened to. Individuals acquire a sense of satisfaction in such a way that they are able to express themselves with the assurance of being understood by another individual. The sexual category pertains to the sharing of general affection more so sexual activity. On the other hand, the social category generally refers to having common social networks.

This could refer to belonging in specific groups that hold the same interests. Meanwhile, the intellectual category deals with the sharing of ideas. There is a certain level of intimacy in the way individuals relate their ideas. Debating on certain bodies of knowledge and analyzing certain event with another individual is also a form of intimacy. Intimacy 2 The last category, recreational, pertains to the sharing of interests for example hobbies. Intimacy is manifested through individuals who undertake the same activities. Looking deeper Intimacy is not just limited with to certain degree of relationship.

For the most part of tackling intimacy, we would see that it is a subjective experience. The level in which it is seen and manifested could differ among individuals and the types of relationship that they have. But on the subject on getting a clear view of intimacy, we could perhaps infer that intimacy mainly deals with feelings of being connected to another individual. Intimacy is the degree of closeness we have towards another person and through that type of closeness we could derive just how intimate a relationship is. The degree of intimacy could also vary per relationship, depending on its nature; the degree of intimacy also varies.

Intimacy also deals with the individual being to feel secure in the presence of another individual. In this case, there is trust that already exists between the persons and the presence of another serves as an assurance for another person. The sense of trust would come into place once both parties have the sense of being taken care of by the opposite party. One issue in this matter, is that intimacy is a subjective experience and as it occurs in different types of relationships, intimacy in relationship may not be applicable to another. For example, an individual belonging to a relationship may be subjected to an unsolicited obligation.

On the subject of passion and the quality of closeness, one individual may have passion for his/her partner but the other doesn’t and the other individual may be obligated to return that passion such that it is not intimacy. Intimacy 3 Intimacy as an interpersonal process In this case, we could also say that in one way or another, intimacy is an interpersonal process. This is seen in the way that in order for people to establish relationships with each other; they have to engage in getting to know themselves and each other first. In this way, the level of relationship becomes deeper and the sense of together and closeness is facilitated.

Intimacy is an interpersonal process in such a way that it also demands self-disclosure as well partner responsiveness. Between relationships, intimacy varies depending on how much a person discloses on about him/her and how much his or her partner responds to these details. In the interpersonal process there is “the sequential unfolding of relevant thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, each of which is influenced by: antecedent conditions and anticipated consequences” (Reis & Patrick, ’96 p. 524). In this case, there is always the constant expectation that the individual demands from this partner.

He/she continuously seeks approval and affirmation from his partner. Gender difference on intimacy Although intimacy could not de directly defined in terms of sexual activities, one important issue concerned in the discussion of intimacy is passionate intimacy. Since intimacy mainly deals with the relationship of two people and the degree of their togetherness and closeness, it is also essential to tackle the issue of passion particularly sexual passion when it comes to intimacy. Passion could be viewed as in the way where two people develop a certain degree of affection towards each other.

This affection could be more clearly seen as having loving Intimacy 4 concern towards each other. This concern in turn then determines the level of intimacy prevailing in the relationship. According to Vohs, K. D. and Baumeister (n. d. ), the degree of passion in a relationship differs according to gender. For example, generally men could more responsive and could have more sexual passion in the relationship than women does. Studies have shown that for most relationships, men develop passion earlier and have the tendency in wanting to engage more in sexual activities than their women counterpart.

The ways in which men and women generally respond to sexual issues are influenced by various factors. For one, societal norms and the environment where in the individual grew into could affect the way they develop and respond to sexual passion. In some cases, it is inherent to the individual in whichever way he/she responds to sexual issues. Also, the way in which the individual interprets details could affect the way in which he or she develops such sense. The development and the degree in which sexual passion comes into place also vary with the context and situation of the relationship.

Understanding the difference The difference in which males and females have when it comes to developing passion throughout the relationship may come in the way such that for societal norms women are mostly expected to have subdued passion than males. In most societies the female is raised in such a way that they are not as freely accepted to express their passion as males does. The males are generally accepted to have their passions expressed more freely and evidently than in females. Morally speaking, males have been granted that right as for females in some societies are not. Intimacy 5

There are women who are just as responsive as other males but they are not positively viewed in turn. Another issue to take into account is that passion could not necessarily be considered a prerequisite for intimacy. They are co-occurring, according to Acker & Davis (1992): “found that passion declined over time in long-term relationship, whereas intimacy continued to rise”. According to Baumeister & Bratslavsky’s (1999) review, as the relationship progress, most of the couples have lesser sexual intercourse. We could not absolutely directly link the relationship of sexual intercourse into the development of passion more so intimacy.

Intimacy is a subjective experience and its development could vary depending on the type of relationship and not just on the level of sexual passion and the frequency of sexual activities.


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The social psychophysiology of marriage. In P. Noller & M. A. Fitzpatrick (Eds. ), Perspectives on marital interaction. Philadephia, PA: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. , pp. 182-200. Reis, H. T. , & Shaver, P. (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. In S. W. Duck (Ed. ). Handbook of personal relationships (pp. 367-389). John Wiley. Reis, H. T. , & Patrick, B. (1996). Attachment and intimacy: Component processes. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds. ), Handbook of basic processes in social psychology. New York: Guilford. Vohs, K. D. & Baumeister, R. F. Sexual Passion, Intimacy, and Gender.

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