Intimate Relationships-Basic Ideas

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  • Topic: Interpersonal relationship, Communication, Love
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  • Published : June 30, 2012
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What is intimacy?

Does and can include sexual involvement, however

Intimacy refers to the special relational states and interactions that occur in close relationships, characterized by feelings of warmth, trust, and deep friendship.

Intimacy is a state of openness and familiarity.

Charcterized by genuineness and an absence of ‘role relationships’


People actively search for intimacy and communication is its method.

* Slide “how are intimate relationships formed?”

Self disclosure. Social penetration theory. People are like onions with many layers. Not about breadth but about depth.

* slide – read immediacy behaviors


Relational intimacy is formed through repeated intimate interactions that foster and display relationship development. This results in both partners feeling close, connected, or deeply caring toward each other

Characteristics of intimate relationships:

Unique: when we first meet people our communication is scripted, however as we get to know them-we use conventional language that is widely understood. However as people become close, people develop a more idiosyncratic style of communication that reflects the unique characteristics of their personalities and the relationship they share

Depth: IR are deep rather than superficial. They are characterized by the sharing of time and space, touch, and in depth self disclosure not found in other relationships.

Time and repeated interaction: IR are formed and developed through people who have sustained the relationship across multiple episodes and interactions.

Positive effect: positive emotional exchange characterizes intimate relationships

Listening and understanding: being listened to and feeling understood are also essential for intimacy

Types of intimacy:

Non-verbal intimacy: usually non-verbal behaviors show the quality of a relationship more than the verbal cues.

Non-verbal behaviors used to convey involvement and warmth in an intimate relationship are called non-verbal immediacy cues (NVIC).

Some NVIC:

Visual (eye) or oculesic behaviours: increased eye contact is a sign of intimacy and attraction

Spacial/proxemics: Hall identified four distance zones as a function of types of interpersonal interaction.

The closest of the zones: known as intimate distance ranges from touch to 18 inches. The only people allowed in this zone are those with whom we have an intimate relationship, such as our romantic partners, closest friends, family, or our children.

Other 2 zones:

“personal” 1.5-4ft
“social” 4-10 feet
“public” 0ver 10 feet
-used for less intimate relationships

Tactile or haptic behaviours: central to the notion of intimacy. Intimate relationships involve high levels of physical touch, which is perceived as a warm intimate behavior

Body movement or kinesics: includes smiling, inclusive and expressive gestures, nodding, open body postures, and bodily relaxation. All indicate emotional expressiveness, one of the primary components of relational intimacy.

Vocals or paralinguistic communication: pitch, volume, rate and tone of voice, for example voices that are warm and expressive reflect interpersonal intimacy.

Chronemic behaviours: spending time with ones partner creates intimacy

Verbal Intimacy:

Self disclosure: communicating openly about ones feelings and beliefs is most important for creating intimacy. The downside of self disclosure is that it doesn’t always lead to intimacy.

Verbal responsiveness: listening carefully to your partner rather than focusing on your own wants and needs. Altercentrism as opposed to egocentrism.

Relational language: eg we/us as opposed to you and I

Comfort and social support: communicates intimacy by being there for relational partners in times of distress. Use person centered messages-acknowledge, elaborate, and validate the feelings...
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