Intimacy

Intimacy is a quality of a relationship which is greater the more the parties know each other and feel known by each other.  This includes knowing not only what each other is doing, but also what is going on in the internal domains of sensations, thoughts, emotions, and wishes of each other.

A second understanding of intimacy comes from the relationship each party has to issues or circumstances in their common life.  If they share a similar commitment to the same activity, issue, or context, they will experience a form of intimacy.

We sometimes use intimacy to mean physical intimacy.  Let us differentiate between sex and intimacy and use sex to refer to the physical aspects of intimacy and use the separate term intimacy to refer to the emotional dimensions of a close relationship.

It is possible to assess for the level of intimacy in a relationship by asking one person what is going on with the other and then confirming with the other whether that feels true.  If each is unable to state what is going on with the other in such a way that each feels known, then we can assume a relatively low level of intimacy.

It is possible to assess for the second kind of intimacy by discovering what interests the parties share and assessing if they have common values and understandings of the shared issue.  For example, parents may have a shared commitment in the welfare of a child and work together on behalf of the child, thus generating a kind of intimacy between them.  If, on the other hand they see the needs of the child very differently this may be a source of intense conflict.  [see conflict intensity]

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