Intimacy in Romantic Relationships.

Essay by daytimeluvrUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2003

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For generations, men and women have attempted to understand the each other in relation to emotional and physical intimacy. Understanding the differences between each gender's interpretations of intimacy is key to building a successful relationship. When these differences are recognized and understood by each partner, the chances for relational success are greatly increased.

In general, women are more willing to disclose their feelings and feel more comfortable than men engaging in verbal intimacy. Most women feel verbal communication between partners is key to a successful relationship. According to an article in the Journal of Counseling and Development, "women seem to believe the intimacy means love, affection, and the expression of warm feelings, while men believe it to mean sexual behavior and physical closeness (464). This discrepancy in defining intimacy has led to many misunderstandings within relationships. While women feel the need for emotional intimacy precedes the desire for physical intimacy, Catherine Reissman points out that men value physical closeness as a veritable method to express their feelings.

Men tend to emphasize activity when discussing intimacy (Adler and Towne 320). They describe their feelings and devotion to their partner though shared experiences rather than verbal interactions. Men view physical contact as a necessity for successful intimacy, not the result of emotional closeness. Acknowledging a man's tendency to consider physical intimacy as a prerequisite for emotional intimacy may be helpful in determining communication and relational problems within romantic partnerships. "Men may view [sex] as a way to build closeness [...while women...] may resist the idea of physical closeness before the emotional side of the relationship has been discussed" (Adler and Towne 321).

The differences between men and women in terms of expressing intimacy probably has more to do with their gender roles rather than any outstanding biological differences. Feminine men...