Here are four factors that we feel are important for building and maintaining intimate relationships:
1) Self-Disclosure- being able to open up to another person about more than basic personal information, but a person’s thoughts and feelings as well. Women are likely to complain that men do not open up about their feelings and researchers have collaborated this with studies on masculinized men and women; regardless of their sex, men and women who acted more masculine, were less willing to disclose their feelings (Basow & Rubenfeld, 2003) (Rathus, Nevid, & Fincher-Rathus, 2008, p. 229). This may be due to social stereotypes integrated into the individual or the impact of testosterone on any person. Disclosing one’s self or sharing of one’s self emotionally and physically with another person provides a source of intimacy for that connectedness to the other person. Opening up in general for both partners provides a closer bond overall. Less open, more disconnect.
2) Friendship- this is a concept that is often overlooked in a fast paced society of get to know people quick, because we all have limited time. Friendships take time to build and require a different set of rules. Kift (2009) points out those couples with a strong friendship have great ability to stay in their relationship. Not only do they love each other, but they really like each other as well (Kift). There are people who fall in love, get married, live together for a year or two and then separate because they find out they do not really like each other as people. They never took the time to become friends first.
3) Romance- Acevedo and Aron (2009) reviewed 25 studies with 6,070 individuals in short- and long-term relationships in order to discover whether or not romantic love is associated with more satisfaction (APA, 2009). They categorized the relationships in every study as romantic, passionate (obsessive romantic) or friendship-like love and labeled them as lasting for long- or short-term (APA). Their review of the studies discovered that people who reported greater romantic love enjoyed both the short- and long-term relationships more. Friendship-like love was only somewhat connected with happiness in both short- and long-term relationships. Romance is important and can be achieved, but the authors in this particular study suggested that those who were romantic were not the same as those whose relationships were also friendships, something that may need to be clarified or looked at. What is nice about the study by Acevedo and Aron (2009) is that they suggest that romance can last in long term relationships and can be rediscovered by those who may have lost it in a relationship (APA, 2009).
4) Planning for the Future - Being able to see the big picture and plan for a future is vital to the success of a relationship. No future plans, nothing to work together for or shoot for. No plan, no hope for the relationship. This demonstrates a lack of interest and motivation in the relationship itself. The couple that cannot get their relationship off the couch is not going to be happy at all, unless of course they planned to spend their future on that couch together.
American Psychological Association (2009, March 21). Contrary To Widely Held Beliefs, Romance Can Last In Long-term Relationships, Say Researchers. ScienceDaily.
Rathus, S., Nevid, J., & Fincher-Rathus, L. (2008). Human sexuality in a world of diversity (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Kift, L. (2009). The FMC Directory. Top Ten Characteristics of Successful Relationships. http://family-marriage-counseling.com/mentalhealth/ten-characteristics-of-successful-relationships.htm