He’s been there on the bad days and, in the good days. When I come home from a two-day recording session and when I return from another concert, he is there to ring my bell. He is the beloved father of our amazing daughter, Lily. That’s Matthew and, he’s my guy!
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. The 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. The noun “intimate” means a person with whom one has 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. The adjective “intimate” indicates detailed knowledge of a thing or person.
In human relationships, the meaning and level of intimacy vary 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.
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. 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 members and close friends as well as those in love. It evolves through reciprocal self-disclosure and candor. Poor skills in developing 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. Psychological consequences of intimacy problems are found in adults who have difficulty in forming and maintaining intimate relationships. Individuals often experience the human limitations of their partners and develop a fear of adverse consequences of disrupted intimate relationships. Studies show that fear of intimacy is negatively related to comfort with emotional closeness and with relationship satisfaction, and positively related to loneliness and trait anxiety.