Intimacy

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A perfect relationship needs to have the right balance of intimacy as well as distance. 'Intimacy refers to the feeling of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in a loving relationship.' (Hook, M. K., Gerstein, L. H., Detterich, L., & Gridley, B.) There are four main components on intimacy. The first one being the presence of love and affection. When one has the sense that they are loved/liked, the risks of self-expression decrease. This leads to them becoming more open with their feelings and thoughts with the other person. The second component of intimacy is personal validation. This is simply knowing your significant other loves you. It's seems so simple. Basically, if your with someone, of course they love you. But that's not the case in all relationships. Therefore, sometimes all one needs to know is that they truly are loved, which is the most fulfilling feeling in a relationship. Trust is the third element of intimacy. A significant other needs to know that the information shared between the two will not be disclosed in any other situation. Without this feeling of trust, communication and openness to each other will decrease immensely. The last ingredient in intimacy is self-disclosure. An intimate relationship is almost impossible without this component. If you don't reveal facts about yourself or your life to your significant other, it's probably not going to work out. Many times, the level of intimacy reached it dependent on quality and quantity of information disclosed between two individuals. (Hook, M. K., Gerstein, L. H., Detterich, L., & Gridley, B.)

In 1996, Sherman and Thelen stated that intimacy is extremely important in a relationship, yet distance is just as important. Sometimes people create space between themselves and others they don't get along with. There are many different ways to create distance in relationships. Jon Hess (2003) provided a few strategies for gaining distance in a relationship. The most common way people distance themselves from other people is avoidance. An example of this would be if you are walking down the hallway at school, and you see an ex boyfriend walking towards you, you might take a different route than usual to get to class to simply avoid coming into close contact with him. Although it's nice to have a close or intimate relationship with everyone, it is simply impossible. Becoming obsessed with intimacy is probably not the right way to go. This will frequently lead to pushing the other person further away. Many people want to know what the perfect amount of intimacy is. Unfortunately, there is no specific answer. Different people need different amounts of intimacy depending on personality and several other factors. Overall, it's a preference that differs among individuals. For example, a guy might become extremely annoyed if he's at a party and receives five missed calls from his girlfriend within twenty minutes of him being there. On the other hand, a different guy might actually like that. He might see that as a sign of caring, not obsessing.

Current Research

        According to Basow and Rubenfield in 2003, most research shows that women are more interested in achieving emotional intimacy than men. They are also more willing to make commitments and share their personal thoughts and feelings. La Guardia and Patrick (2008) state that the problem with this stereotype is that just like men have to be careful with that they say to women, women have to be just as careful as to how they speak to men. One offensive mistake, and the situation could get blown way out of proportion. Men can get their feelings hurt just as women can. When you put a man down, he feels shame and his masculinity also gets threatened. An easy way to describe shame is when he experiences a lack of ability in his own ego. This creates a sense of unworthiness for him.

        Friendships are among the most intimate relationships during a child's life. As the children get older, romantic relationships seem to become more important starting during early adulthood and continues for the rest of our lives. Complimenting each other using verbal intimacy is highly valued by both men and women in romantic relationships. Without compliments, the relationship is often thought of as a weak relationship. In romantic relationships, women are more aware of compliments than men. Also, over all, women rate the importance of compliments higher than men do (Doohan and Manusov, 2004).

        The reason that men and women interpret intimacy differently mostly has to do with how they were raised. Men aren't supposed to be feminine and have feelings as to women aren't supposed to be masculine. Men have the strength and women have the warmth. This is the way it is? This is American's tradition (Mackey, Diemer, O'Brien, 2000).

Application

        Every person interprets things in their own unique ways. It happens every day no matter where you are. An example of these misinterpretations is the 2009 movie, He's just not that into you.

        In this movie, one of the stars, Gigi attempted to get a date with a man named Conor. After her attempts failed, she began seeking advice from the bartender of the local bar she visits quite frequently, Alex, who also happens to be Conor's best friend. Alex begins to tell Gigi that she hasn't got the hint that Conor simply isn't interested in her, and if he was, he would have called or made a move. Gigi's problem is that she is stuck obsessing over all the little signs she picks up on during a date. She thinks he's into her, when he has no interest in her. Later on, she's starting to believe that Alex might have a crush on her since he is so willing to help her find love, after his attempts to set her up on blind dates. When in reality, he is trying to help her out as a friend, and give her a guys perspective on things. This is how a woman sometimes thinks if a guy is just being nice to her and helping her out, he must have an interest in her. Yet, a man usually thinks there is nothing misleading about this.

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