An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate sex and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual relationship. Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a general desire to belong and to love which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships involve physical and sexual attraction between people, liking and loving, romantic feelings and sexual relationships, as well as the seeking of one or more mates and emotional and personal support for the members. Intimate relationships provide a social network for people that provide strong emotional attachments, and fulfill our universal need of belonging and the need to be cared for.
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 (e.g., “an intimate knowledge of engineering” and “an intimate relationship between two people”).
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