Webster defines the word as: familiarity; something of a personal or private nature. Others references record friendship as a characteristic or Characterized by close personal acquaintance.
We have always defined it thus: Intimacy is in-to-me-see. It is a relationship that allows deep, emotional give and take, with the sharing of secretive and very personal information about oneself. We absolutely prefer this definition!
Let’s look back for a few minutes at what needs to have been developed in order for intimacy to be advanced within an individual or relationship.
First we must develop Trust. Do you remember when that is developed or is unable to be developed? It is in the first 18 months of life when an intimate relation with both Mother and Father ripens. If this does not happen, a child is left with mistrust or gullibility.
Then a child develops Autonomy, the ability to make decisions or govern oneself. This is the time of potty training, choosing one’s own clothes, etc. If this is developed, a sense of self-confidence comes with it, and if not, the child growing up, lives with self-doubt and shame.
Moving along, a child develops Initiative. Children who are successful at this stage feel capable and able to lead others. Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative. When an ideal balance of individual initiative and a willingness to work with others is achieved, the ego quality known as purpose emerges.
Once having been able to accomplish so far, the child now develops Industry. Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities. Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their abilities to be successful.
And then comes Identity which is developed during the turbulent teen years. Completing this stage successfully leads to Fidelity(Loyalty) which Erikson described as an ability to live by society's standards and expectations.
We are now approaching the development of the stage known as Intimacy. This stage covers the period of early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships. Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Those who are successful at this step will form relationships that are enduring and secure.Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self do tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression. Those who are successful in this stage will form relationships that are enduring and secure and will have the virtue of Love.
Those who have developed the previous stages well will feel comfortable allowing others, at least certain others, to know how they think and feel. They will be willing to take off their mask, if they even wear one, and share their innermost self with their ͞special other.͟In to me see is a special virtue reserved for the one with whom we share life and are committed to a lifelong oneness. In actuality, this and sexual openness with a mate is the knowing that is the oneness of which the Bible speaks "and the two shall become one."