intimacy

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intimacy

sexual and personal relations characterized by closeness and personal disclosure. A recent analysis is provided by GIDDENS (The Transformation of Intimacy, 1992), who focuses on the changing character of the ‘pair relationship ’ in modern societies including homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships, and FRIENDSHIP relationships as well as sexual relationships. Three central concepts are employed in this analysis:
  1. the pure relationship, a relationship maintained for its own sake;
  2. plastic sexuality, sexuality freed from considerations of property relations;
  3. confluent love, the self-consciously conditional, revisable love relationship, a relationship that must be continuously worked at to ensure the mutual commitment and trust it requires of both partners.

The origins of the ‘pure relationship’, according to Giddens, are ‘separation of sexuality from the reproductive function’, made possible especially by modern contraception. In these circumstances the possibility of confluent love emerges. Child-parent relations also tend increasingly to approximate to the pattern of the pure relationship, and as Janet Finch (Family Obligations and Social Change, 1989) points out, kinship relations in general become increasingly dependent for their continuation on a ‘working out’ of relationships. For Giddens, intimacy involves above all an emotional communication with oneself and others, in a context of equality in which ‘TRUST has to be won and actively sustained’.