Intimacy and autonomy within the context of a relationship

The need for intimacy and autonomy within a relationship varies not only based on the age of a subject but also on his/hers relationship towards the development of social trends. A. Giddens in his work Sociology (1997) states that there is a certain trend in terms of today’s society towards more autonomous personality and also a decline in terms of willingness to maintain solid partnership – which can have severe consequences on the quality of a relationship. It may seem that autonomy is more than just a small obstacle in pair`s intimacy. However, according to C.L. Gordon Intimacy and Autonomy Development in Marriage: an Examination of the First Five Years (2006) the autonomy of an individual can be of a benefit for his/hers relationship – for example, a person that is more autonomous is more likely to cope better with pressure, stress, which directly influences the partnership. This can later on result in a positive reflection on the union, as the partner is more at ease, acceptable and understanding. But J.M. Gottman in his work What predicts divorce: The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes (1994) points out that there is no relevant research or method that demonstrates that autonomy is a predicator for marital satisfaction.

Lavy et. al. Intrusiveness in romantic relationships: A cross-cultural perspective on imbalances between proximity and autonomy (2009) emphasizes that for a satisfaction of a relationship it is necessary to achieve balance between closeness and autonomy. Gordon (2006) mentions that various couples may have different combinations of autonomy and intimacy (for example long distance relationships). In majority of cases, however, a pair constantly tries to balance these two concepts, which is more than challenging as the needs of one individual will be met on expenses of his/hers partner, depending on their personality and personal setting. Functioning relationships are characterized by this ability to maintain the balance between intimacy and autonomy. Achieving this balance is more than complicated but necessary for a happy union. One of the factors that can disrupt a relationship is when one person repeatedly violates the balance by trying to limit partner`s autonomy – this phenomenon in psychology is known as intrusiveness. (Lavy 2009)


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