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Conceptions of intimacy: men in relationships Grobman, Grant A. 1993

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CONCEPTIONS OF INTIMACY: MEN IN RELATIONSHIPSbyGRANT ALLAN GROBMANB.Sc., The University of Alberta, 1983A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDEPARTMENT OF COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGYWe accept this thesis as conformingTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASEPT 1993© Grant Allan Grobman, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of  COt44/5 The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate L/i2 71 DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThe purpose of this study was to investigate theconceptions of intimacy held by men in on-going heterosexualrelationships. Existing conceptions and theories ofintimacy have traditionally focused on behaviors isolatedfrom the context of the person. Furthermore, the principlesguiding existing theory have not been substantiated. Thisstudy attempted to present the concept of intimacy within anatural context. To this end, a phenomenographical approachwas employed to generate possible conceptions through thecollection of statements and experiences of intimacy.Eight men were gathered through a network of contactsto participate in semi-structured interviews. Statementsand experiences, which described their conceptions ofintimacy, were extracted from the interviews and validatedby independent reviewers. The data was analyzed andcategorized into dimensions and manifestations of intimacy.Six dimensions emerged from the statements andexperiences. Attunement, collaboration, distinctiveness,trust, empathy, and rootedness were found woven through thefabric of the conceptualizations of intimacy. Sharedexperience, acceptance/support, and specialness were threemanifestations or ways in which intimacy was experienced.The manifestations provided a holistic context for theconcept of intimacy.iiImportant aspects of intimacy were validated in thisstudy. Intimacy was not characterized by one or morespecific features, but rather involved a set of rich andcomplex elements. There appeared to be different facets ofexpression for these elements. Lastly, there appeared to bean interconnection between the state and process ofintimacy. The findings of this study provided a morecomprehensive and in-depth understanding of the concept ofintimacy and validated the importance of understanding aphenomenon within a natural context.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSPageABSTRACT^TABLE OF CONTENTS^  ivACKNOWLEDGEMENT  viCHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION  ^1CHAPTER II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE  ^5Approaches to Intimate Relationships  ^5Conceptions of Intimacy  ^9Self-disclosure and Intimacy  ^10Trust, Empathy, Mutuality, and Intimacy ..^12Intimacy Research  ^17Operationalization of Intimacy  ^18Summary ^  23Intimacy and the Adult Male  ^23Men and Self-disclosure  ^27Men and Empathy  ^28Summary ^  34CHAPTER III. METHODOLOGY  ^36Phenomenograpy  ^38Data Collection  ^40Sample  ^40Recruiting Co-researchers  ^41Interview Procedure  ^41Data Analysis  ^43CHAPTER IV. RESULTS  ^46Dimensions of Closeness  ^47Attunement  ^47Collaboration  ^49Distinctiveness  ^51Trust  ^52Empathy  ^57Rootedness  ^59Manifestations of Closeness  ^63Shared Experience  ^63Acceptance and Support  ^67Specialness  ^71Connections Between Manifestations  ^74Relatedness Between Manifestations and Dimensions^75ivCHAPTER V.^DISCUSSION ^V77Limitations 78Implications for Theory ^ 80Implications for Practice 94Implications for Future Research ^ 98Summary ^ 100REFERENCES ^ 102APPENDIX A:^Consent form ^ 111iv ;ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI would like to start by acknowledging the eight menwho participated in this endeavor. Their thoughts andexperiences are the foundation of this project.I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Larry Cochran,for his theoretical and conceptual assistance during thecourse of this project. I would also like to acknowledge DanPratt for his input regarding the methodology employed inthis study.I would like to highlight the encouragement, support,and conceptual insights provided by Mary Westwood. When thesky was dark and cloudy he often pointed to rays of light,re-kindling the force to press on.I would especially like to express my gratitude,appreciation and love to my family for their continuedsupport and encouragement. To my sister Elaine, thank youfor your sense of grounding and patience throughout thisproject. Who could have guessed that coming to Vancouverwould be so exciting.Finally, I would like to thank all of my friends whoprovided emotional nourishment which helped sustain me overwhat seemed like a very long but fruitful journey.CHAPTER IINTRODUCTIONUnderstanding intimate relationships between men andwomen has been the focus of philosophers, artists, and amyriad of writers since the times of ancient Greece. Thenotion of intimate relationships has been held close to ourhearts and minds. Intimate relationships provide us withthe feeling of belonging, a source of support during timesof stress and feelings of comfort during our day to dayroutine. Without personal relationships we may feel lonely,isolated, and lacking a sense of meaning in our lives. As asociety we are currently engaged in a struggle to answer thequestions of how intimate relationships are created,experienced, and maintained.The purpose of this study is to explore the conceptionsand experiences of intimacy held by men who are in on-goingheterosexual relationships. There are two aims for thisstudy; first, to contribute to the understanding of intimacywithin a natural context, and second to provide counsellorswith more in-depth and tangible information regardingintimacy with a view towards facilitating clientsexperiencing relationship difficulties.With the advent of the women's movement, a reevaluationof traditional relationship qualities between men and womenhas occurred (Cancian, 1987). Historically, relationship1configurations were guided by defined polarized genderroles. Women have been characterized as nurturers and caregivers responsible for maintaining emotional intimacy inrelationships, while men were viewed as agentic and self-sufficient (Bakan, 1966). Parsons (1966) argued that a rolearrangement where the man is instrumental and the women isexpressive set the stage for healthy family functioning.Women now appear to be crossing the gender boundaries asevidenced by their increasing economic power and limitedaccess to the political decision making process (Steinmann &Fox, 1974). Past research reflects traditional attitudes byfocussing on male developmental concerns such as autonomyand career. More recent theory such as "Self-in-Relation"and the works of Rubin (1983), Chordorow (1978), andGilligan (1982) have attempted to correct this inequity byaddressing contemporary views of the psychology of women.Although these theorists provide psychodynamic and feministperspectives on relationships, a clear conceptualunderstanding of intimacy in adulthood is still lacking.Intimacy is regarded as a central feature of adultdevelopment however our comprehension of intimacy appears tobe limited. It seems that the focus of researchers ofadulthood has tended to address individual developmentalprocesses and capacities rather than relationships andindividuals in natural contexts. In the past ten or fifteenyears psychologists have exhibited a renewed interest inexploring the complexities of interpersonal relationships2with specific attention being paid to intimacy. An increasein marital and family enrichment programs, the "humanpotential" movement, and high rates of divorce have promptedresearchers and therapist to examine the phenomenon ofintimacy.Individual and marital adjustment and satisfaction havebeen associated with relationship intimacy (Fehr andPerlman, 1987; Reis, 1984; Waring, McElrath, Mitchell andDerry, 1981). Intimacy problems have been correlated withloneliness (Weiss, 1973), depression (Brown and Harris,1978; Walsi, 1977, cited in Sloan and L'Abate, 1985),suicide (Goldberg, 1976), and general psychologicalcomplaints made by clients seeking psychotherapy (Horowitz,1979). However, a direct cause and affect relationshipbetween intimacy and various social and personal problemshas not been established. The operational definitions usedby studies to measure intimacy often involve equatingspecific behaviors with intimacy, an association which hasnot been validated.The dominant methodological approaches used in existingresearch have not provided information which illustrates therichness and complexity of the experience of intimacy.Isolating and quantifying variables within laboratorycircumstances has tended to result in misleading accounts ofthe concept of intimacy. Employing a phenomenographicalapproach this study investigates the meaning of intimacywithin a natural context. Conceptions were featured through3direct statements and specific experiences which may provideimportant information for enhancing clinical practice.4CHAPTER IIREVIEW OF THE LITERATUREThe overall aim of the following chapter is to presentpertinent background information regarding variousapproaches attempting to explain intimacy in relationships.Definitions and conceptions of intimacy which appear toestablish the basis for operational definitions used inresearch will be examined. Research investigating thenature and development of intimacy will also be presented.Finally, a review of literature and research concerned withintimacy and male adult development is discussed.APPROACHES TO INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS The focus of this section is to review variousapproaches to understanding intimate relationships. Perlmanand Fehr (1987) presented four general approaches tointimacy: Life-Span Developmental models; Motivationalmodel; Equilibrium models; and Equity Theory. Two of theseapproaches, Equilibrium and Equity, present perspectiveswhich do not provide clear or unique conceptions ofintimacy. The Life-Span Developmental and Motivationalmodels do present perspectives which include a more conciseconceptualization.The Equilibrium models which originate from Argyle andDean's (1965) research asserted that couples have a5preference for a specific level of intimacy in theirinteractions. They point to certain verbal and non-verbalbehaviors as ways to express intimacy. Furthermore, theypropose that couples constantly attempt to maintain anoptimum balance of intimacy. Paterson (1976) suggests thatcouples considered to have high levels of intimacy exhibitmore intimate behaviors. Absent in the Equilibriumperspective is a clear understanding of what is actuallybeing balanced. References to the maintenance of intimacythrough verbal and non-verbal behavior are presented yetwhat is being maintained is not stipulated.The Equity Theory also suggests that intimacy isprovided through the fairness within relationships. TheEquity theorists (Hatfield and Traupmann, 1981, cited inPerlman and Fehr, 1987; Walster, Walster, and Berscheid,1978) suggest that individuals weigh the costs and benefitsof their actions in an attempt to maintain or restore abalance of outcomes. Research employing the Equity theoryaddressed concerns such as the amount of personal resources,perceptions of relationship outcome, and assessment ofexchanges in certain situations.Similar to the Equilibrium model, the Equity theory does notprovide a conceptualization of intimacy. It appears toprovide ways to adjust or maintain intimacy but does notpresent a clear understanding of intimacy.The Life-Span Developmental approach underscored thetheories of Sullivan (1953) and Erikson (1958) which6provided a developmental context for intimacy. Erikson's(1958,1963) well known developmental stage theory proposedthat after a person has established a sense of identity theyare prepared to negotiate the next developmental crisis,intimacy versus isolation. Erikson conceptualizes intimacyas being in a relationship in which commitment and the"fusing of identities" (1968, p.135) is actualized.Furthermore, according to Erikson, intimacy, which isachieved during early adulthood, involves the capacity toachieve mutual orgasms through sexual interaction.Sullivan's (1953) view of intimacy, on the other hand, isconcerned with the need during pre-adolescence to develop asense of "chumship" in response to staving off loneliness.He further distinguishes the need to develop an intimaterelationship which involves "collaboration with some veryspecial person" (p.267) and the need for release of genitaltension through sexual acts. In addition, Sullivan (1953)suggests that mature intimacy establishes that the needs andwants of the other is just as important of one's own.Some researchers have explored intimacy in the attemptto support various hypothesis developed from the Eriksonianframework. For example, Orlof sky (1976) categorizedintimacy status on the basis of the possible outcomes of theintimacy crisis. The statuses are: isolate, stereotyped,pseudointimate, preintimate, and intimate. Subsequentresearch has attempted to find relationship between intimacystatus and ego identity, sex role orientation and gender7(Marcia, 1980; Orlof sky, 1977; and Schiedel and Marcia,1985). The above research attempts to provide support forEriksons developmental theory rather than being concernedwith validating his definition or concept of intimacy.Dan McAdams (1980, 1982) view of intimacy as a humanmotive was inspired from Bakan's (1966) concept of communionas a fundamental mode of existence. McAdams (1984) statedthat "the intimacy motive is a recurrent preference orreadiness for experiences of close, warm, and communicativeexchanges with others" (p.45). In his research McAdamsattempted to support his theory by showing that in factindividuals differ with respect to their tendencies toexpress levels of intimacy and measured those differences.He found that individuals with high intimacy motivation arecharacterized as more warm, open, sincere, and egalitarianthan individuals who were low in intimacy motivation. AlsoMcAdams and Contantain (1983) found that individuals withhigh intimacy motivation were more expressive regardinginterpersonal relationships.The above approaches to intimacy were developed frompersonality and social theory which employ differingconceptualizations of intimacy. Two models, Life SpanDevelopmental and Motivational, propose that intimacy in astable quality or capacity of the individual. While theEquilibrium and Equity approaches observe intimacy as aprocess and continual changing. It is important to note8that these approaches use definition of intimacy which havenot been established by clear research evidence.Two other perspectives worth noting include ObjectRelations Theory and Feminist Theory. Both approaches werefocus on early childhood development and its affect onlatter adult relationships. These approaches presentsomewhat more clear concepts regarding intimacy and will bediscussed in more depth in the preceding sections. The aimof the next section is to present a variety of definitionsand conceptualizations which have evolved from variousapproaches to intimacy and relationships.CONCEPTIONS OF INTIMACYThe word intimacy is derived from the Latin word"intimus" meaning inner or innermost Researchers havefound it difficult to delineate a clear definition forintimacy as no general consensus of its components or naturehas been established. Although intimacy is considered to bea dominant cultural value and is often noted in literatureaddressing relationships, its basis has not been clearlyconceived (Schaefer & Olson, 1981).As was noted earlier sexual behavior has been indicatedas an important component of intimacy. Mcgill (1985), forexample, suggested that men tend to equate sex withintimacy, while women see sex as an expression of intimacy.Psychodymanic theorists, Balint (1965) and Kernberg (1977),have also suggested that sexual intercourse is the central9element of intimacy. In contrast, Sullivan (1953) proposedthat sexuality is a separate need that intimacy ischaracterized by feelings of warmth and closeness. To dateno direct evidence has been put forth to substantiate thetraditional icon of sex being a key component of intimacy.Intimacy has been referred to as a developmental taskor need (Erikson, 1950/1963; Sullivan, 1953) and as a humanmotivation (McAdams, 1982). It has also been viewed as aninteractive process which involves both verbal and nonverbalbehaviors (Arglye & Dean, 1965; Jourard, 1971). Intimacyhas been considered an "intermediate cognitive construct"(Chelune, Robison, & Kommor, 1984, p.13) and as aconsequence of specific relational processes (Wynne & Wynne,1986). More recently, intimacy has been perceived as acomplex phenomenon involving both behaviors and interactionswhich create intimacy and are expressions of intimacy in andof itself. Furthermore, intimacy has been considered to bean affective state which includes feelings of trust,connectedness, safety, comfort, closeness, warmth, and afeeling of being known and accepted (Snyder, 1991).Self-disclosure and IntimacyPerhaps the most common conception of intimacy is thatof a process by which the experience of intimacy fluctuatesin relation to self-disclosure (Derlega and Chaikin, 1977;Hatfield, 1984; Jourard, 1971; Wynne and Chelune, 1983). Theact of self-disclosure is the process by which the1 0"innermost" of an individual becomes known to another.Derlega and Grzelak (1979) stated that "self-disclosureincludes any information exchange that refers to the self,including personal states, dispositions, events in the past,and for the future" (p.152). Schaefer and Olson (1981)proposed that "intimacy is a process and an experience whichis the outcome of the disclosure of intimate topics andsharing intimate experiences" (p.51). Derlega and Chaikan(1975) defined intimacy as self-disclosure of "aspects ofthe self that are unique and central and/or vulnerable"(p.104). Rubin (1983) proposed that intimacy is the"reciprocal expression of feeling and thought not out offear or dependent need, but out of a wish to know another'sinner life and be able to share one's own" (p.90)Theorists have suggested that cognitive self-disclosurealso appears to be a prominent factor for intimacy. Waring(1984) referred to cognitive self-disclosure as "the processof making ourselves known to others by verbally revealingpersonal thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions, aswell as developing self-awareness" (p. 35). In addition tocognitive disclosure, Lewis (1978) included verbal andtactile expressions of affection in his conception ofintimacy. Consistent with non-verbal forms of self-disclosure such as sexual or bodily contact as key featuresin the concept of intimacy (Morris, 1971; Wong, 1981).While self-disclosure has held a prominent position with11regards to the concept of intimacy it does not explain theactual experience of intimacy.The disclosure of the private self appeared to be asalient feature of intimacy and was often noted inresearcher's lists of characteristics of intimacy (Hinde,1976; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978; Chelune, Robison,& Kommor, 1984). Some investigators suggest that self-disclosure alone is insufficient and that expressed empathy(Wynne & Wynne, 1986) and acceptance and commitment(Gilbert, 1976, cited in Schaefer & Olson, 1981) are alsonecessary components of intimacy.Trust, Empathy, Mutuality, and IntimacyLafollete and Graham (1986) noted that sensitivity andtrust are major components of intimate encounters. Theysuggested that the person revealing information must besensitive to the capacity and experience of the listenerLafollete and Graham (1986) noted that one might communicatepersonal or intimate information to persons who are nottrusted which may indicate more individual attributes suchas frankness or openness rather than an experience ofintimacy. In addition these researchers purport that if thetrust of the listener is understood, the listener will notexploit the vulnerabilities of the revealer.Givelber (1990), a proponent of the Object Relationstheoretical framework, identified five components of "viable12intimacy"; separateness, mutuality, acceptance of self andother, empathy, and collaboration. Central to this conceptof intimacy is the perceived influence of the parent-infantbond of early childhood. While the basis for the first fourcomponents originate from the parent-infant attachment,collaboration has its origins in the sibling and peerinteraction. Shaver, Hasan, and Bradshaw (1988) concur thatrelationships are strongly influenced by the quality of theparent-child bond. They theorized that individuals'expectations of relationships are influenced by experiencesof empathy and promotion of individuation during childhooddevelopment.Developed from Object-Relations theory is the notion of"we-ness" experienced in relationships. Klein (1976)believed that the need for "affiliation" is included withinone's identity along with the need for autonomy. He notedthat through the relationship between a mother and infant,the infant "proceed from reaction to interaction, into aself that can both affirm and be affirmed by others" (p.228-229). In adult relationships the need to be recognized andaffirmed is maintained and satisfied by self-objects (Kohut,1977). Mutuality within relationships involves the capacityto be dependent while maintaining a secure sense of self.Furthermore, Jean Baker Miller (1987) (cited in Givelber,1990) suggested that individual growth is promoted throughmutuality in relationships'. Through experiences of fusionindividuals learn new ways of being. Here mutuality is seen13as part of the concept of intimacy however what is missingis information as to the experience of mutuality.Person (1988) proposed that through the process offusion or mutual identification a couple develops a distinctidentity. Person described mutual identification as an"authentic sense of the subjectivity of the Other, aknowledge of the Other's point of view that assume equalimportance with (one's) own"(p.119). As a result of mutualidentification. Person proposed that the self is alsotransformed by acting for the identified other whichindirectly is acting for oneself.Person's view of mutual identification involved theindividuals capacity to empathize with one's partner. Thistheme is also found in Feminist theories of intimacy.Chordorow (1978), for example, suggested that women are moreempathic than men because the mother-daughter identificationis stronger during pre-oedipal stages of development. Shestated "(girls) emerge from this period with a basis for"empathy" built into their primary definition of self in away that boys do not" (p.167). Self-in-Relations theoristssuch as Miller (1976) also suggested that women have astronger interest and greater capacity for intimaterelationships than to men. These statements about men andtheir capacity for intimacy lack experientialsubstantiation. Furthermore, there is an implicitsuggestion that men must experience empathy is the same waythat women do in order to be considered empathic.14Goethal's (1980) in his concept of intimacy describedadvanced relationships as those which involve changes inself and the "interpersonal field" which develops within anatmosphere of trust, acceptance and the valuing of apartner's expressions. He also suggested that qualitiessuch as attunement, empathy and commitment implicitly existwithout conscious effort. Though these relationships arerare, according to Goethal's, "mutative relationships" mayoccur in varying degrees. Goethal's provides a morecomprehensive conception of intimacy however he does notclearly explicate the experiences of the components heproposes to be part of intimacy.Dahms (1972) proposed that there are three levels ofintimacy; emotional, physical, and intellectual. Accordingto Dahms the highest level, emotional intimacy, whichincorporates four non-hierarchical themes; mutualaccessibility, naturalness, non-possessiveness, and theawareness of intimacy as a process. Some writers havesuggested that emotional intimacy is the most difficultlevel for men to achieve (Goldberg, 1979; Lewis, 1978;Pleck, 1975).A more recent conceptualization of intimacy wasproposed by Kathy Weingarten (1991). She argued that thepopular views of intimacy which have been developed fromsocial constructionist and feminist perspectives have notaddressed the experience of intimacy but rather focus onindividual or relationship capacities. According to these15theories individual capacities such as self-knowledge andacceptance are required for intimacy to be experienced.Lerner in The Dance of Intimacy (1989) defined intimacy as"being who you are" (p.3); implying that an individual musthave a clear understanding of their boundaries and personalvalues. Oden (1974) also suggested that self-awareness andcongruence must be present for intimate sharing. Weingartenhowever proposed that intimacy is created out of mutualinteractions. She stated "Intimate interactions occur whenpeople share meaning or co-create meaning and are able tocoordinate their actions to reflect their mutual meaning-making" (p.294). According to this conception intimacyarises from shared understanding of experiences and thedevelopment of new manners of interaction throughattunement. Weingarten further states, "Refraining frommeaning-making and providing, imposing, rejecting, andmisunderstanding meaning are associated with non-intimateinteraction" (p.295). The view that intimacy is realizedthrough experiences rather than individual capacities orqualities of relatedness is noteworthy as it calls intoquestion conceptions of intimacy based on genderexpectations which often diminishes male experiences. Thisconcept of intimacy seems more helpful towards theunderstanding of intimacy as it focuses on experience ratherthan preconceived notions.Conceptions of intimacy appear to fall into twocategories; those addressing the individual quality or16capacity and those concerned with relationship interaction.Theories which explain intimacy from the perspective of theindividual (psychodynamic, feminist, and developmental)focus attention on early childhood experiences. Whiletheories concerned with aspects of relationship interaction(social exchange, equilibrium, and equity) emphasis variousbehaviors as indication of intimacy. Attempts toconceptualize intimacy appears problematic in part becauseno one theory fully captures or explains the phenomenon.Furthermore, a reductionistic approach to understanding themeaning of intimacy seems too nebulous. Self-disclosure,for example, has been held as a major indicator of intimacy.It might be suggested that this factor may be toorestrictive as well as being vague and ambiguous. Men mayexperience intimacy by other means other than through verbalself-disclosure. They might also experience or expresstheir personal selves via other avenues other than verbalself-disclosure. Finally, what is described as vulnerableor personal may vary between individuals. It appears that amore complete and inclusive definition is needed towards theconceptualization of intimacy.INTIMACY RESEARCHThe research on intimacy has been approached from twodifferent streams of inquiry. By far the most commonlyadopted methodology is that of employing an "a priori"assumption about intimacy, and by making statements or17taking measurements based on the presupposition. Thus thefocus of intimacy research has been on investigatorsperceptions of external evidence rather than on what peopleare actually experiencing. Furthermore, this approach hasoften involved developing of theories about intimacy whichfit into existing social and psychological theoreticalperspectives.The less common orientation has been that of attemptingto understand intimacy through people's ideas orexperiences. However, the goal of research investigatingthe experience of intimacy is ultimately directed towardsthe development of an operational definition as a basis fora measurement tool. Again the concern appears to be theunderstanding of intimacy from a non-naturalisticperspective. Few studies are directly concerned with theexperience of intimacy as the main consideration.Operationalization of IntimacyThe development of a collective definition andsubsequent operationalization of intimacy is still in itsinfancy (Helgeson, Shaver, & Dyer, 1987; Perlman & Duck,1987). Operational definitions have been too global, oftenusing general relationship indices (ie. maritalsatisfaction) or make assumptions that the understanding ofintimacy can be captured by one or more behavioral,cognitive, or affectual construct (Snyder, 1991).18The most prevalent operational definition used instudies has focused on the communication qualities betweenrelationship participants such as emotional expressivenessand self-disclosure (Balswick, 1988; Delegra and Grzelak,1979; Derlega and Chaikin, 1975; Hatfield and Walster, 1981;Jourard, 1971; Jourard & Lasakow 1958; Lewis, 1978). One ofthe earliest studies of self-disclosure was conducted byJourard (1971) in which he concluded that "the amount ofpersonal information that one person is willing to discloseto another to be an index to the 'closeness' of therelationship and of the affection, love or trust thatprevails between two people" (p. 429). Implicit in thisconclusion (and other studies using self-disclosure as avariable) is the understanding that personal informationincludes anything which reveals the "self". Self-disclosureas a measure of intimacy is problematic as it assumes firstthat the inner self is clearly identifiable and capable ofbeing understood and secondly, that the act of disclosureindeed leads to knowing the other or being known. Mostresearch on self-disclosure has emphasized verbalexpressions. There is, however, evidence that suggests thatnon-verbal exchanges are significant ( see Paterson, 1984).Some researchers suggest that personal and situationalfactors such as the need of intimate disclosure areimportant when addressing the significance of self-disclosure ( Archer, 1983; Derlega & Grzelak, 1979; McAdams,1984). According to a study conducted by Waring and19Chelune (1983) self-disclosure is not in and of itselfaccountable for reported intimacy.The methodology used to gather information aboutintimacy has often involved the use of self-reportquestionnaires and restricted interviewing procedures. Thedata has been analyzed and compared to a preconceiveddefinition of intimacy as in the research of a self reportinventory constructed by Schaefer and Olsen (1981). Thismeasurement tool was initially developed from presupposeddimensions elicited from statements made by familyprofessionals about the nature of intimacy. The inventoryemphasized aspects such as marital satisfaction, self-disclosure, cohesion, expressiveness, conflict and control,all of which appeared to be related to personal andrelationship qualities rather than the experience ofintimacy. Waring, Tillman, Frelick, Russell and Weisz(1980) conducted an exploratory study to investigate theconcept of intimacy. They interviewed 50 adults askingabout their concepts of intimacy and found that self-disclosure was essential element for intimacy. Otheraspects associated with intimacy included sexuality, absenceof anger, argument and criticism, awareness and acceptanceof self and childhood experiences of intimacy. The studywas limited in that information regarding their spontaneousresponses was not expanded upon. Furthermore, this studywas conducted towards the development of an operational20definition rather than an exploration of the phenomenon inand of itself.A structured intimacy interview of intimacy wasconstructed by Waring and Chelune (1983) to measurebehaviors based on ten aspects of marital intimacy:affection, cohesion, expressiveness, compatibility, conflictresolution, sexuality, identity, autonomy and intimatebehaviors. Consistent with previous studies self-disclosurewas found to be a fundamental aspect of intimacy. Althoughthis study utilized an interview style it addressedbehaviors rather than experience.McAdams (1982) conceptualizes intimacy as amotivational quality in the individual. He stated thatintimacy motivation reflects the "individual's preference orreadiness for experiences of closeness, warmth, andcommunication" (p.134). In his studies both verbal and non-verbal information gleaned from TAT and psychodrama studieswere used to access intimacy motivation. In one studyMcAdams (1980) found that college students who rated high inintimacy motivation were characterized as more "warm,""loving," "natural," "appreciative," and "sincere" thanthose students who were low in intimacy motivation. McAdamsfurther suggested that self-disclosure is a manifestation ofintimacy motivation. McAdams research provides moreinformation about the concept of intimacy as he usesexperiential methods however he appears more concerned with21substantiating a formal theory of motivation rather thanexploring the experience itself.Nancy Snyder (1991) interviewed lesbian woman andheterosexual men and woman about their experiences ofintimacy. She found primary themes of intimacy such asrevealing the self, knowing and being known, acceptance,connectedness, trust, non-verbal disclosure, sex, and sharedexperiences. Less common themes included separateness,focused attention, playfulness, crossing boundaries andmutual respect. Snyder suggested that the themes cannot beequated with intimacy but are specific components. From theresults of her research Snyder proposes that intimacy isboth a process and a state. The process of intimacyinvolves expressive behaviors including shared experienceswhere by the self is revealed. She also proposes that theprocess invokes a state of intimacy as well as beingexperience as intimate in and of itself.Snyder considers various affective states such ascloseness, connectedness, trust, safety, comfort, warmth,and feelings of being known and accepted as the state ofintimacy. She notes that closeness is an overriding themeof intimacy. Finally, she concludes that the state ofintimacy is very similar to what Winnicott describes as a"holding environment" (1960/1965). What is relevant in thisstudy is that the focus is primarily on the understandingthe subjective experience of intimacy, rather than on22attempting to develop a systematic or generalizableconclusion about intimacy.SummaryWhile numerous studies have been conducted on variousaspects of intimate relationships, few have specificallyaddressed the issue of the experience of intimacy. In orderto quantitatively measure intimacy researchers haveconducted based on a-priori assumptions. The concept ofintimacy as represented by experience is required. Thecomplexity and depth of intimacy cannot be understoodthrough inventories or questionnaires. Thus, this studyemploys an interview style methodology towards developing amore comprehensive understanding of intimacy.INTIMACY AND THE ADULT MALEA secondary interest of this study is concerned withthe experience of intimacy by men in particular. It seemsthat their is popular notion that men are unable, unwilling,or ill-prepared to be intimate. Thus a discussion of theoryand research concerned with men and intimacy is warranted.It is important to note again that the conceptions ofintimacy used to study gender differences are based on apriori assumptions rather than actual individualexperiences. Conclusions and arguments employed to supportspecific positions about gender differences do not providegreater understanding as well as miss leading.23Intimacy, according to various writers is one of theareas of personal relationships which men experience aselusive and confusing (Balswick,1988; Booth,1972; Rubin,1983; Lewis, 1978). Most writers who consider self-disclosure as an index for intimacy, have found that men areless intimate than woman (Caldwell & Peplau, 1982; Jourard &Lasakow, 1958; Lewis, 1978; McGill, 1985; Pleck, 1981;Rubin, 1983). Cancian (1987) argued that the definition ofintimacy as self-disclosure and emotional expression isbased on a feminized conception of love. She stated "weidentify love with emotional expression and talking aboutfeelings, aspects of love that women prefer and in whichwomen tend to be more skilled than men" (p. 69). Shesuggests that this concept of love or intimacy is incompleteas it precludes masculine styles of behavior, such asproviding instrumental help, joint activities, and physicalcontact.Several writers contend, that as a result of polarizedgender roles and child developmental features, men areunable to achieve intimacy (Chordorow, 1971; David &Brannon, 1976; Gilligan, 1982; Goldberg, 1979; Mussen, 1962;Rubin, 1983). Socio-cultural theorists propose thatvariations between male and female intrapersonal andinterpersonal behavior are primarily a result of social andcultural conceptions of gender. Masculinity and femininityare believed to be concepts which are developed throughpolitical, economic and domestic conditions. Two theories,24"dispositional" and "structural", attempt to explain thedifficulties men have with intimacy.^Proponents of the"dispositional theory" focus on the process of earlychildhood socialization as the basis for gender differencesin interpersonal behavior. From this perspective theinternalization of cultural norms for appropriate behavioroccurs during early childhood development. The parent-childinteraction is regarded as the vehicle through whichchildren internalize gender expectations.Nancy Chodorow (1971) claims that the child-rearingstructure in which women are designated the primary care-giver establishes the sex differences in behavior. Shesuggested that boys become confused and insecure when theymust separate from their mothers in the process ofidentifying with their fathers. She argued that men learnto inhibit their identification with their mothers andconsequently they repress their capacity for intimacy.Further, adult male intimate attachments are then founded onabstract role expectations rather than on emotional bonding.Women, on the other hand, are believed able to maintaintheir affective connections to others because they retaintheir identification with their mothers. These statementsabout intimacy and men are based on Feminist Theory whichhas yet to substantiate their claims.Rubin (1983) extended Chodorow's (1971) theory bysuggesting that the male child psychologically defendsagainst the pain he experiences as the consequence of25repressing his connection with the primary care-giver.Similarly, according to Rubin (1983), men are unable to beemotionally intimate because they have learned to deny theiremotions. She states, "the development of ego boundariesthat are fixed and firm-barriers that rigidly separate selffrom other, that circumscribe not only his relationshipswith others but his connection to his inner emotional lifeas well" (p.56). Woman, alternately, are viewed by Rubin asable to be intimate because they maintain theiridentification with their mothers and are thereforeconnected to their inner emotional worlds and are able to bemore empathic. Both Chodorow (1971) and Rubin (1983)suggest that until changes occur in child-rearing practices(ie. men become more directly involved in child-rearing),cultural conceptions of masculinity and femininity will beperpetuated and males will continue to struggle withintimacy. Again, what is assumed is that men mustexperience intimacy in the same way women do. Further,assumptions about the experience of empathy and fusion arebased on theory not recorded experience.Rubin (1983) has some found support for her viewthrough her research interviews. Rubin notes that shefrequently heard statements made by women such as "hedoesn't talk to me" and "I want to know what he's feeling"and men stating, "I don't know what she wants me to talkabout" and "I'm not feeling anything"(p.65). Napier (1988)found similar statements made by women and men in their26collection of therapeutic encounters with couples. However,they suggest that unrealistic expectations of high levels ofverbal intimacy is a result of being over involved withtheir mothers and have experienced emotional rejection fromtheir fathers. Both the assumptions and conclusions madeabout these respondents statements in these studies can beconstrued as evidence that men are not fulfilling intimacyexpectations is not validated.Men and Self-disclosure Research investigating cognitive self-disclosure andgender differences from a quantitative approach presentconflicting results. Most findings support the contentionthat women are significantly more disclosing than men(Cozby, 1973; Deforest & Stone, 1980; Gitter and Black,1976; Hendrick, 1981; Jourard & Laskow, 1958; Maccoby andJacklin, 1974, cited in Snyder, 1991; Powers & Bultena,1976). While some studies have found no significant genderdifferences with respect to self-disclosure, few have foundthat men exhibiting higher levels (Cozby, 1973; Hacker,1981, Woodyard and Hines, 1973). In a study by Hacker(1981) men were found to disclose more to member of theopposite sex while women disclose more to members of thesame sex. And Woodyard and Hines (1973) found that mendisclose more to casual acquaintances while women disclosemore in significant relationships.27Studies interested in the content of self-disclosurefind that men tend to disclose information which involved anexternal references rather than about the "self" and affect(DeForest and Stone, 1980; Highlen & Gillis, 1978; Pleck,1975). Rubin, Hill, Peplau & Dunkel-Schetter, (1980) (citedin Snyder, 1991) found that men tend to focused on topicssuch as politics, things they felt proud about, and partnerspositive attributes. Pleck (1975) found that 58%- of the menin his study had not told their best friend that they likedthem. While research evidence appears to support theconclusion that men are less disclosing and emotionallyexpressive than women, few studies have investigated themeaning of what is disclosed or expressed by men. Forexample, men may feel intimate through the process ofdisclosure rather than from specific content of disclosure.Finally it is important to reiterate that using self-disclosure as an operational definition for intimacyearlier may be imprecise as was discussed earlier.Men and EmpathyEmpathy, as discussed earlier, has been considered animportant aspect of intimacy. Early research concerned withempathy involved measuring the degree to which individualsmatch emotional responses or exhibit sympathetic responses.In a review by Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) no evidence of sexdifferences was found in 29 papers. In another review,Hoffman (1977) concluded that on the basis of 16 studiesfemales are more empathic than males. However, most of the28studies reviewed by Hoffman childrens levels of reflexivecrying as the operational definition for empathy.Finally, Eisenberg and Lennon (1983) found that femaleswere more empathic when self-report methodologies were usedto measure gender differences, while no differences werefound when physiological or non-verbal measures wereemployed. They further argued that on the basis of thestudies they reviewed a conclusion that females possess aninnate capacity to be more empathic than men is notwarranted.In Snyder's (1991) study she did not find any genderdifferences with regard to primary themes such as self-disclosure and empathy. No significant differences werefound in the type of language used or descriptions of eventswhich respondents described as intimate. Furthermore,external raters (male and female) were unable to distinguishthe gender of the respondents statements about theirexperiences of intimacy. Snyder caution the readers of herstudy to conclude that there are no gender differences giventhat her study does not address behavioral differences andthe sample (30 female, 10 male) is small. Furthermore, theresults of her study may not reflect the general populationas 80%- of the respondents had received some form of therapyas well as being motivated to participate in the studythereby being more open and disclosing.Structural or situational theories address theinteraction between the individual and context. Situational29theorists (Gould, 1978; Levinson, 1978) emphasize theinfluence of environmental setting and adult developmentalstage on adult behavior. Role theory suggests that malesmust attend to achievement tasks in order to fulfill therequirements of the male role (Balswick, 1988). Herein,males learn that to be masculine excludes the expression ofemotions. Pahl and Pahl (1971) found that the father-provider role emphasizes drive and competition qualitieswhich conflict with the interpersonal skills needed tomaintain marital and family relationships.Lewis (1978) also suggested that intimacy andcompetition are mutually exclusive. Therefore men whoadhere to the masculine stereotype that men are to bewinners, will be unable to attain intimacy. Fasteau (1974)added that men are socialized to avoid being vulnerable andmust share their fears or doubts as these emotions are aliability in the male world.Theories of adult male development also providepossible explanations for the difficulties men have withintimacy. Levinson (1978) found that there are specifictasks which need to be completed at different stages ofadult development. He proposed that early adulthood ismarked by physical separation and emotional differentiationfrom the family of origin. The differentiation of self isbelieved to involve the confrontation and challenge ofparental value systems in the context of a young adultstatus (Bowen, 1978). The young adult is to confront30numerous false assumptions derived from early childhood(Gould, 1978). For example, Gould explains that the youngadult male must realize that his parents are not omnipotentand he must take responsibility for his behaviors. If hedoes not resolve this assumption he may remainundifferentiated. Robinson (1981) claims that men who donot adequately differentiate from their parents willtransfer their false assumptions to their female partners.Perhaps, in the case of being responsible for one'semotions, males may expect that their partners will takeresponsibility for the emotional milieu in theirrelationship (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973).Erikson (1950) also viewed adult development as aseries of stages in which particular tasks must becompleted. In adolescence the individual must attend to thedichotomy of "identity versus role confusion." This processentails the adoption of attitudes and behaviors consistentwith appropriate role models. Tolson (1977) notes that boyslearn that their fathers are often absent, emotionallyremoved and disinterested in family functioning. Boys alsolearn that aggressive and competitive behaviors are expectedrole behavior.Erikson (1950) claims that the transition to adulthoodinvolves the confrontation and resolution of the intimacyversus isolation crisis. In order to successfully negotiatethis stage flexible role behaviors are necessary. Authorsalso suggest that the rigid qualities of masculinity learned31in adolescents are inappropriate for this task (Mussen,1962; O'Neil, 1981; Phillips, 1978). O'Neil (1981) proposesthat boys are socialized to devalue feminine qualitiesincluding attitudes and behaviors related to intimacy.Thus, boys tend to avoid traditional feminine qualities asthey risk disapproval from parents and friends (O'Neil,1981). Men who maintain a rigid position with regards tomasculine values adopted in adolescents will experiencedifficulties achieving intimacy (Goldberg, 1979; Lewis,1978; O'Neil, 1981; Pleck, 1975).The examination of socialization and culturalstructures appears to have led to the conclusion that theexperience of being a successful male is to the adopt rigidand restrictive masculine qualities. Men experienceintrapersonal and interpersonal problems which are relatedto, if not caused by, inexpressiveness and non-disclosingbehavior (Balswick & Peek, 1971; Jourard, 1971; O'Neil,1982; Phillips, 1978). It therefore appears that men may betrapped in a paradoxical situation. At this point in NorthAmerican society's development, men are expected to exhibitqualities needed for intimacy even though these qualitieshave been excluded from the cultural definition ofmasculinity. Dosser, Balswick and Halverson (1986) contendthat "society teaches the male to be masculine andinexpressive and, at the same time, expects him in intimaterelationships to be affectionate and to express hisfeelings" (p.243). These arguments attempting to explain32why men are not intimate assume that self-disclosure andempathy as defined by studies previously mentioned are validand accurate. As was mentioned before this conclusion isnot based on experiences of men but on a-priori assumptionsabout intimacy which has guided most non-naturalisticresearch.SUMMARYFew studies have directly explored the meaning ofintimacy for men. Most studies use self report measures ofintimacy for men and women which are based on preconceiveddefinitions of intimacy. A major conceptual concern is thelack of general agreement for the operational definition ofintimacy. Further, numerous studies have used definitionswhich hold a bias towards the acceptable feminine styles ofbehavior. Self-report questionnaires and intimacy scalesare often designed to measure communicative qualities suchas expressiveness and self-disclosure.Other writers suggest that men have differentorientations to intimacy than women and that men seekintimacy through other means than verbal communication(Caldwell & Peplau 1982; Gilligan, 1982). Physical contactand sex have often been viewed as the main characteristic ofmale intimacy with women (Reis, Senchak and Solomon, 1985;Rubin, 1983).Most studies comparing male and female behaviors as ameans to measure intimacy find that women are more intimate.33Wright (1982) suggests that there are possible behavioralmeasures which could be employed to explore gender andintimacy, that would show higher degrees of similarities.Hegelson et al. (1987) in a recent study attempted toidentify a set of features which presented a morecomprehensive conceptualization of intimacy. Theseresearchers found that sex differences related to intimacywere consistent with previous research but that conceptualdifferences were also present. The results indicated thatappreciation and affection were more important factors thanself-disclosure with respect to intimacy.Finally the interpretations made concerningquantitative results which find gender differences are notconclusive or valid.^Wright (1988) points out that thereis often variability within groups which are oftenoverlooked. Parelman (1983) cited in Snyder, 1991,concludes that when adjustments for factors such as age andsex-role orientation are made gender differences regardingintimacy are diminished. Thus, conclusions claiminggeneralizations about homogeneous groups of men and womenmay not be valid as within group variability tends to befairly high.McCarthy (1981) notes that qualitative approaches topersonal relationship research are emerging. Olson (1977)suggests that both objective and subjective realities needto be attended to for a more complete understanding ofintimate relationships. Questions such as Is intimacy a34process or state? and To what degree does individualcapacities or relational properties relate to intimacyremain unanswered. Questionnaires and self-reportinventories appear insufficient to provide such information.An interpretive approach attempts to provideinformation in terms of the participants' experiences.Thoughts, judgements, perceptions, and feelings aboutintimate experiences may present a deeper, more intensiveunderstanding of intimacy. The aim of this study is touncover the deeper meaning and nuances of intimacy for men.The conception of intimacy is better understood when basedon the individuals experiences rather than on preconceivednotions. This study differs from quantitative endeavors inthat it seeks to find variations of peoples conceptions ofintimacy rather than attempting to find generalizablecomponents. Exploration into individuals implicit theory ofintimacy will hopefully provide a more credibleunderstanding of this phenomenon.35CHAPTER IIIMETHODOLOGYThis study examined the conception of intimacy asunderstood by men who are currently in a relationship with awoman. A naturalistic perspective was adopted as theunderlying tenets of this perspective appear to beconsistent with the ways in which the concept might beunderstood.One of the underlying tenets of the naturalisticparadigm is that there are multiple ways in which reality isconstructed and, therefore, prediction and control of aphenomenon, based on a single reality, is unlikely. Bakan(1972), for example, called for research directed towardsthe understanding of psychological phenomena as involving aprocess of interaction between cognition, affect, andvolition, as the basis of the way we construct reality. Inthis regard, intimacy was assumed to be a constructed andvery human phenomenon rather than an entity which could besubjected to the laws of the physical world. It wouldfollow, therefore, that there are multiple ways that theconcept of intimacy may be constructed and it would beappropriate to follow a naturalistic paradigm of inquiry.One of the concerns for the field of counsellingpsychology is the elucidation of how persons construct theirinner world. Counselling psychology, like the naturalistic36research paradigm, starts from the belief that individualsexperience the world from a subjective position, that is, anindividual's conceptions of the world cannot be separatedfrom the context of their experience. It is thereforeappropriate to address intimacy from a naturalisticperspective as it is concerned with understanding aphenomenon from the position of the individual(s) reality.Another epistemological tenet of the naturalisticparadigm suggests that there is an interactive relationshipbetween the investigator and the participant underinvestigation. Lincoln and Guba (1985) state, The inquirerand the 'object' of inquiry interact to influence oneanother; knower and known are inseparable" (p. 94). Thisrelationship between the researcher and respondent is viewedby the naturalist to be both valid and favorable. Thenaturalist, further, argues that so-called objectiveresearch, conducted from a positivist paradigm, alsoinvolves the presence of influences on a phenomenon underinvestigation. These influences include reactivity,indeterminacy, and interaction (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).Rather than viewing the interaction between the researcherand participant as being a source of contamination thenaturalist believes that this relationship imbues researchof human phenomenon with deeper meaning and, thus, a richerand more complete understanding of the phenomenon underinvestigation.37In summary, three underlying tenets of the naturalistparadigm are supportive of the method selected for thisstudy: 1) there exist multiple interpretations of humanphenomena; 2) it is appropriate to understand a phenomenonfrom the individual's perspective; and 3) it is acknowledgedthat there is an interaction between the researcher andparticipant that effects both the collection andinterpretation of the data.PHENOMENOGRAPHYExisting investigations of intimacy, as noted in theliterature, tended to take a position that intimacy could beunderstood by measuring a limited number of isolatedvariables. Furthermore, these variables were derived from apriori assumptions which in turn were based on unfounded orunsubstantiated theory or conjecture. The particularqualitative methodology chosen for this study,phenomenography, starts from a different epistemologicalposition and is concerned with discovering meaning as itarises from the data rather than imposing unfounded a prioriassumptions (Glaser and Strauss, 1967).Phenomenography is concerned with understanding howindividuals conceptualize different aspects of their world.Marton (1981) described a phenomenographic perspective asunderstanding the way "we orient ourselves towards people'sideas about the world (or about their experience of it)" (p.178). Reality, as construed by a person, is subject to38one's experiences and how one thinks about or finds meaningwith respect to those experiences. Thus, this study was anattempt to uncover men's understanding of intimacy. Giventhat intimacy is a human and individually constructedreality, in-depth interviews were used to access tacit andinferential knowledge (Guba, 1981), both of which areessential aspects of peoples constructed realities.Phenomenography is also concerned with exploringvariations of conceptions of a particular phenomenon.Marton (1981, 1986) suggested that the unearthing ofvariations is germane to investigating different waysphenomena are conceptualized. Further, phenomenographicresearch strives to bring some order to differingconceptions through a process of categorization. Groupingof conceptions are then presented systematically, thereby,providing a blueprint for understanding the "outcome space"or relationship amongst conceptions, of a phenomenon underinvestigation.Phenomenography acknowledges that conceptions held byindividuals may be bound by contextual variations(Johansson, Marton & Svensson, 1985; Saljo, 1988, cited inWilson, 1991). Thus, it is also relevant to understand anddescribe the context(s) in which one might find a particularconception(s).This study has attempted to explore the phenomenon ofintimacy from a phenomenographic research approach. Theresearch question to be addressed is: What are the ways in39which men conceptualize intimacy? Using qualitativetechniques, information was collected and analyzed towardsproviding a more meaningful understanding of men'sconceptions of intimacy. The following sections willdescribe how this research was conducted.DATA COLLECTIONSample Eight men, who were currently involved exclusively inheterosexual relationships, comprised the sample for thisstudy. They came from caucasian, middle class backgroundsand, as such, typified those who might seek out counsellingservices to address difficulties in intimate relationships.They varied according to age, level of education, employmenthistory, and family composition. Two individuals had atleast a masters degree in psychology, one was a musician,another a janitorial custodian, one physiotherapist studentand three men were employed in diverse businesses.The criteria for the sample of men included a minimumage of 30, minimum of five years being in a currentrelationship, and that they were co-habitating at the timeof the interview. The length of the participant'srelationships did in fact vary between a minimum of fiveyears to a maximum of twenty five years. The age andminimum relationship status were considered as an attempt toavoid individuals in earlier developmental stages and/or the40possible effect of the "honeymoon" stage of newrelationships.Recruiting Participants The participants were gathered through a network ofcolleagues and friends and were contacted by telephoneeither at home or at their work place. If a participantfulfilled the requirements of the intended sample theresearcher asked him if he wished to participate in thestudy. Those who were willing to participate were asked toattend an interview at a future time.Interview Procedure The interview procedure is the considered to be thebasic technique to gather information when conducting aphenomenographic study (Marton, 1986). Interviews wereconducted a manner that acknowledges that the processtranspires as a shared experience between the interviewerand respondent. Mishler (1986) points out that theinterview method involves questions and answers which are"contextually grounded and jointly constructed byinterviewer and respondent" (p. 34). Thus, the interviewcould be more aptly described as a conversation of mutualdiscovery.Interviews occurred at a mutually agreed upon place andtime, were taped, and lasted 50-75 minutes. Each interviewbegan with an explanation of the purpose of the study and41asking each participant to sign a consent form whichemphasized confidentiality (see appendix A). The researcherasked if there were any questions regarding the study. Itwas then suggested that the participant take a moment tobegin thinking about experiences he had in which he feltintimate with his partner. A general exploratory questionwas then asked: "Describe experiences in which you feltclose to your partner." The same question was asked of allrespondents and was stated in an open-ended fashion allowingfor flexibility and mutual understanding.The researcher provided probes and reference points,such as, different life situations which could facilitatethe respondent in the direction of the focus of this study.The use of probes and reference points arose from thefeedback provided by two pilot interviews. Furtherclarification and the appropriateness of the use of probesand reference points also occurred in a round table formatwith psychologists and university educators previous to thecommencement of this study.Both the pilot studies and the round table gatheringwere helpful as they increased my awareness for my potentialbias of preconceived notions about men and intimacy. Someof my assumptions regarding intimacy and men were consistentwith the dominant societal discourse. For example, the veryact of conversing with men about their ideas and experiencesof intimacy appeared contrary to the popular assumption thatmen could not or would not engage in a discussion of this42nature. Thus, I needed to be aware of how I might assume toknow what and how the men might or might not talk about inrelation to the subject of intimacy.Participants were, at times, asked to clarify words andphrases, or elaborate with examples, which provided greatermutual understanding. Flexibility within the interactionwas important in trying to facilitate the expression ofunderlying meanings held by the respondent.Feedback from pilot interviews suggested the additionaluse of the term "closeness" to represent the word"intimacy". Intimacy tended to be associated with thepopular notion of sexual activity. It is important to notethat participants were informed that the words would be usedinterchangeably.DATA ANALYSIS The information gleaned in this study was subjected towhat is known as inductive data analysis. This approach isdescribed by Lincoln and Guba (1985) as "a process for"making sense" of the field data" (p. 202). Two generalprocedures were undertaken towards understanding the data,"unitizing" and "categorizing".First, the information was "unitized" which is aprocess in which "raw data are systematically transformedand aggregated into units which permit precise descriptionof relevant content characteristics" (Holsti, 1969, p. 94,cited in Lincoln and Guba, 1985). After the taped43interviews were transcribed in full, words, phrases orsentences, which related to the research question, werehighlighted as potentially relevant "units of meaning."Specific quotes, which related to the theme of this study,were also identified and tagged. All units of meaning,which were extracted from the interviews, related in someway to the participant's understanding of the phenomenon ofintimacy. Further, units of meaning were found in bothdirect statements about their understanding of intimacy, aswell as imbedded within the descriptions of theirexperiences of intimacy.Second, the units of meaning were sorted and grouped onthe basis of having shared a similar underlying feature ormeaning. A word or phrase was assigned to each groupingwhich represented a specific theme or essence held by eachof the units in that group. This process involved returningto the transcripts on numerous occasions to ensure units ofmeaning were neither omitted or misunderstood within thecontext of statements or experiences. Furthermore, both myadvisor and a member of my thesis committee scrutinized thecategorization results to determine if the units of meaningshared similar enduring features. They also checked thesuitability of the word or phrase which was assigned todescribe each grouping. The transcriptions were presentedto three independent reviewers who had backgrounds asprofessionals in the field of counselling psychology. Theywere asked to tag relevant units of meaning as well as to44provide a word or phrase which represented some aspect ofintimacy addressed by that unit. This process provided bothconfirmation of units of meaning and a check on the criteriaof the specific groupings.The result of this process revealed two sets ofcategories: Dimensions and manifestations. The firstcategory, dimensions, appeared to represent specificconstituent themes of one conception, closeness.A phenomenographic approach is typically concerned withdiscovering differing conceptions. In this study, however,the data emerged as having one overriding conception whichincorporated six qualitatively different dimensions.The second category, manifestations, represented the arenasof life or ways in which intimacy was experienced. Threemanifestations were found to provide the context where onecould find the presence of the dimensions. The notion thatdimensions would be found to vary in relation to differingexperiences is relevant within the context of aphenomenographic approach to research (Johansson, Marton &Svensson, 1985; Saljo, 1988, cited in Wilson, 1991). Thefollowing chapter presents the findings of this project.45CHAPTER IVRESULTSThis chapter presents the findings gathered from thein-depth interviews of the eight participants regardingtheir conceptions of intimacy. Two hundred and fifty eightexamples and statements were derived from the interviewswith one overriding concern emerging, closeness. The conceptof intimacy can be seen as conveying varying degrees ofcloseness, which range from connectedness to fusion orunion. Six qualitatively different dimensions of closenesswere determined from the interviews: attunement,collaboration, distinctiveness, trust, empathy, androotedness. The dimensions represent different facets ofcloseness. Of secondary interest, three manifestations ofcloseness were identified: shared experience, acceptance/support, and specialness. The manifestations illustrate theways in which closeness was experienced in the every daylives of the participants. They illustrate the experienceof closeness as holistic, as a gestalt. The manifestationsare meaningful in that they present a context for thedimensions and establish intimacy as a process as well as astate. The manifestations of closeness may involve one ormore differing dimensions which reflect the interrelatednessbetween the state of intimacy and the process of intimacy.46The issue of process and state will be discussed further inthe subsequent chapter.DIMENSIONS OF CLOSENESS Presented below are the six dimensions of closeness.These dimensions are the aspects of closeness which wereexplicated by the men's direct statements and examplesregarding their understanding of closeness.Attunement This dimension of closeness was expressed by the men inthis study as "being in sync" with one's partner. Being insync was illustrated by both statements and examples inwhich there was acknowledgment of the partners having sharedthoughts, feelings, attitudes, and actions. Attunementsuggests that the couple define issues and concerns in thesame way. Hence, being in sync connotes a sense ofrelatedness or of being in harmony which transcends meresimilarities.The dimension of attunement was described by one man inthe following way: "it [closeness] means that we're in syncin a lot of ways, both of us are feeling pretty lazy aroundthe house ....we're feeling good that we were basicallygoing in the same direction...you know, when we're boththinking about the same other person or that we wereplanning a holiday and both thinking about it at the samemoment and that sort of thing." This example exhibits this47couples basic compatibility. Another man experience ofattunement was presented in the following statement: "wewere discussing some of the people in the family and I feelparticularly close to her at that point because we do havesimilar feelings about these people and experiences of we'reable to just agree on some things about the family."Attunement is a sense of shared thought, beingcontained in the same psychological place as is described inthe following example. "It's nice to have a person that Ican talk to about some of these things as opposed to aperson who may have just saw the forest but didn't see thetrees...it's sort of a gladness of spirit at that point intime." The sharing of the same thought process for this manappears to have provided a deeper, spiritual connectedness.The sense of a harmonious relationship that isreciprocally experienced by the couple appears to beessential, regardless of the context. The rhythm of sharedmovement as described by one man's experience is an aptmetaphor conveying this sense of attunement. He stated,"it's like we're sharing a common movement and the music andthe enjoyment of what we're doing is... the feeling ofconnectedness."The participants spoke of the importance of being insync, going in the same direction, and sharing thoughts andfeelings with their partners. Hence the experience ofcloseness appeared to emerge from being attuned to one's48partner, like an effortless and natural harmony thatemphasizes togetherness rather than separation.CollaborationViewed by some men as a key component of feeling closein their relationships, commonalty or closeness wasexperienced in an active way, a shared striving. Thisdimension of closeness was exemplified by the partners'directed or coordinated action toward achieving a meaningfulgoal.This experience was depicted by one man's intensefeelings about his involvement as a collaborator in thecreation of his child.Accomplishing things together has given us a sense ofbeing close and that is... one of the hallmarks of ourmarriage and one of things that I pride myself in....The strength of our relationship is that we worked welltogether no matter what task it was... For example, thebirth. ....I realized, "Wow, (partners name), you and Iwe just did another project." I mean we justaccomplished something together it was just like abombshell going off in my life.., just the fact that wedid it and accomplished it and I felt close about that.Collaboration was also illustrated by men'sdescriptions of specific actions taken to achieve a goal.One man described for example, the coordinated action thatwas required in buying a house.49The fact that we got the resources together, you know,we go through and choose it and we negotiate what wewant and you know the anxiety and the waiting, makingthe offer, the counter offer and finally gettingsomething you want... just being there as twoadults....we go in to a bank manager and talk to himstraight and not have different stories.., havingagreed what our goal is.Finally, the following example presents the intensityof closeness elicited by their collaboration on a specificproject.We'd work for a couple of nights real hard and we'dreally intensely go over (it)...sometimes it was justwork or something and we'd have to argue about it anddiscuss it but it was very, very good stuff because wereally work well together....I really feel a seriousoneness in that kind of working together...central toour relationship that we can sit down and work togetheror plan together or think together or act together.Implicit in the men's discussion about collaborationwere the involvement of skills such as power sharing,problem solving, tolerance of frustration and anxiety,subjugating individual needs for a relationship goal, andadherence to certain rules or limits. Ultimately, feelingsof satisfaction and accomplishment arose from both thecompletion of a goal and the acknowledgement that the pairworked well together.50Distinctiveness In this dimension there is appreciation for distinctionor autonomy within the relationship. There isacknowledgement, respect, and admiration for individualdifferences. Some of the men expressed their experiences ofcloseness through descriptions of being autonomous, offeeling free to be themselves. One man stated, for example,"the last eight years we've been together and livingtogether, the parts of the relationship that really...keptit together is that we do have our own space."For some of the men distinctiveness was emphasized inthe way they viewed their partner's attributes or skillsdiffering from their own. The accent seemed to have been ontheir perception of being in complementary partnership orthey may have more directly affirmed their partner'sspecific traits or behaviors. One man described a situationin which he felt close to his partner as she performed aspecific religious ritual.I was certainly feeling proud that she was taking overand doing it and without discussing it with me andtrying to get my approval. She doesn't need myapproval anymore and that was great...I was feelingclose to my wife at that time. I get a lot of pleasurewhen my wife does things like that. That she can dothem on her own.He went on to express his admiration of his partner'ssuccess in the work place.51There's a lot of responsibilities there and she'shandling it very well, and she gets a lot ofrespect.. .on her own. I feel a lot of pleasure fromit. I guess in a way it's closeness because for manyyears I thought she relied upon me to be her success.In this dimension, distinctiveness also emerged in theanalysis of conflict or acrimony. The men stated that theyrespected and appreciated their partners differing points ofview. What appeared to be important in order for closenessto occur in disagreements, was that each partner understoodand felt understood during and after a conflict.Distinctiveness as described by the men in this studyappears to contribute to the feeling closeness and wellbeing of the relationship. Individual differences are seenas enhancing the relationship. The differing personalitystyles and skills are experienced as gratifying andvaluable.Trust Trust was often illustrated by reciprocal feelings ofreliance between the partners. Aspects such as openness,honesty, sharing, and support were seen to be part of thisdimension. Often, trust emerged as a prominent dimension insituations of vulnerability.So my vulnerability there, is that I moved emotionally.My emotions are there, they're open for her to see....I52feel trusting and we've had this closeness that I canlet that be there without trying to stop....still notfeeling entirely comfortable but feeling it's okay.It's alright to be crying or to be moved emotionally...and in that feeling closer.The passage suggests that this man trusts that his partnerwill accept the more intense emotions connected to his coreinner self. Despite his feelings of being exposed henevertheless felt safe enough with his partner to continueto express affect. Implicit in this notion of trust is thebelief of this man that his partner has his best interest atheart and would not do ar say anything to undermine him.Trust was important in areas where various conflictsarose, especially in sensitive areas such as sexualfunctioning and finances. The following example illustratesone man's experience of trust when dealing with conflict.If we're having some problem...say in an area like sexwhere we're not feeling.., one of us may be feelingthat... the other is not available...we'll talk aboutthat.. .if [we're] not feeling very close to each other.Then the fact that we'll go out or just sit down athome and talk about it ...generally results in feelingvery good about us again.Suggested in this example is this man's confidence thatconflicts with his partner can be resolved through trustthey have for each other.53The men often spoke about feeling confident abouttrusting that their partners could be expected to stay inthe relationship during periods of crisis. One mandescribes his experience in the following way.At times we get very intense talking about thesituation [conflict regarding fidelity] and she doesn'tpack her bags and leave...the fact that she doesn'tmakes me feel closer.Another man spoke about feeling close to his partner when hecould rely on her loyalty.I knew if push came to shove she would go with me,then, I felt very close and secure with her and alsothat [it] kind of gave her the power to negotiate ourway out of it.For this man the presence of trust not only accorded thefeeling of safety but also provided the security requiredfor him to be more agentic within the relationship.Trusting that the one's partner could be expected toprovide unconditional support was also seen as an importantpart of feeling close. One man stated, "here's a personthat you can count upon to give you support. Like it wasn'ta grudging support." Another man spoke about a time when heand his partner were experiencing a prolonged period ofstress, which resulted in their becoming closer, "While wewere going through this period of integration I really feltthat... I had only her to rely on and I'm sure my wife feltthe same way."54Trust was also exemplified in the sense of reliance inthe mundane day to day living experience. This ability tocount on their partner and to experience comfort frompredictable aspects of their intimate relationships appearedto deepen the men's feelings of trust. To illustrate, oneman stated the following.In a day to day realm...things like managing the houseand pure behavioral kind of stuff... knowing what isexpected of each other...(to) kind of know the rulescan mark the certain kind of closeness.Here it appears evident that there is an implicit trust thatthe partners share that things will get done during the day,and that specific agreed upon roles will be upheld. The manfurther commented.There's a kind of comfort, familiarity, trust if youlike, in terms of how all that's going to workout...all the ground rules are kind of laid out, andhow we're going to respond emotionally - she knows mypatterns. I know her patterns and even if thosepatterns might conflict and hassle, we're aware of thatand can accommodate those bits of conflict.Not only does this man trust that the partnership roles areunderstood but also that he trusts that they can resolve anydifficulties that arise.The men spoke of experiencing closeness when theyacknowledged trusting their partners' judgment. One man55described his experience of trust in relation to being on anature hike -it's a bit of an edge kind of situation... if anythinghappened...from meeting a bear to falling off a cliffto spraining an ankle. Whatever it is, we have to relyon each other completely. And we've done all thosethings and I guess we trust each other and each othersjudgment."Another example of trusting a partner's judgment was evidentin the area of receiving advice.I was talking about my stuckness about my businessthing right now. I was at the same time wanting to bewilling to expose that weakness in myself to my partnerbecause I trust her to give me some ....to reflect somecertain things that I need to hear from her...some hardfeedback and trust that you're going to do that out ofsome sense of loving and caring for me.This man may feel close because he trusts the support hewill receive from his partner in spite of or perhaps due tohis willingness to be vulnerable.The experience of these men suggests that trust is aviable component of intimacy and appears to be manifested inthe men's experiences of acceptance and support. Othermanifestations of trust such as honesty, openness,spontaneity, and risk taking were also evident. Trustappeared to be required for many experiences of closenessto occur. While the self-disclosure of fears, doubts, and56vulnerabilities were often involved in their experiences theemphasizes with regards to closeness is the state of trustexperienced by the men.EmpathyThis dimension of closeness can be described as anelement of the couples' affective interactions. In essence,it is the event where in a partner feels what the other isfeeling. Empathy appears to involve a reciprocity in whicha partner wants to understand while the other wants to beunderstood. In other words, a partner must reveal on somelevel what is happening to him or her self internally inorder for the other partner to empathize. The men in thisstudy illustrated empathy as the availability to share theiremotions in order to feel closeness; feeling like one'ssituation was understood by the presence of support, andconsideration for either partner.Among these men empathy was often indicated as part ofthe process of supporting ones' partner. One man stated -When I've ...been done badly by some event the end ofthe day, when I get to go home and tell her and shesays, " yeah, that was bad. You have the right to feellike that." I very much appreciate that feeling and Ifeel close to her when that happens. And alsoconversely, you know when she comes home. .1 listen toher.57This man appears available to share his experiences with theimplicit understanding that he will be understood andsupported.Empathy was also apparent in the descriptions of thepartner's awareness of the needs of the other. One manstated for example, that he felt close to his partner whenacknowledging his partner's need for assurance. His desireto understand her feelings was evident in his comment - Ifelt she needed assurance that I was there with her. Thatshe wasn't going to handle...deal with all this by herselfand that we were going to be sharing this responsibility.Awareness of the partner's needs was also evident inthe ways in which consideration was expressed. One manstated,When you're giving those things or sort of beinginstrumental in your partner's needs you feel a senseof closeness. But the big thing is recognizing theneed without having to be requested to do something.Implicit in his statement is the recognition of her need,empathizing with the partners state, and responding from aplace of knowing. Accurate understanding of the partnersemotional state, often manifested through sensitivity totheir partners needs, appears to be important dimension ofcloseness.Empathy involves a partners ability to enter into theother partners feeling state without obscuring their ownindividuality and separateness. The feeling of closeness is58derived from the immersion into the others world. Most ofthe men did not directly acknowledge that they were beingempathic. However, in order to attend to their partnersthey exhibited motivation and ability to identify with andtake the perspective of their partners.Rootedness This dimension of closeness emphasizes a sense ofliving as a couple who are firmly grounded in the history ofa relationship. Qualities such as commitment, togetherness,constancy and predictability appeared to be integral to theexperience of closeness. Perhaps the strongest evidence ofrootedness could be found in the partners' aspirationsregarding their futures.The men stressed their awareness that they possessed ahistory with their partners which was valued and special,and that this relationship had a future. The past is linkedto the future, giving men a sense of being in an on-goingstory of great value. Out of the past grows the future.Just doing these things together, I mean, at any onetime. it's just...one more straw on the pile that ifyou take a look back at, I guess, the storehouse ofexperiences that you've built up together, it's gettingto be quite a size barn of hay right now... It's thetime you spend together over the long haul... I havestill sort of slow building tsunami...the same thing ina relationship. As time has gone on it becomes a real59moving force to say.."hey, we've got something here andI cherish it.From this history, the future of this couple is developedand was anticipated.We're doing some future planning right now...naturallyI feel closer about it because in that in and of itselfis another one of these levels of togetherness thatimplies a higher belief or affinity to therelationship.This man's description seems to suggest that he experiencesa deep sense of connection when thinking about his futurewith his partner, thereby reenforcing feelings of beingrooted in the relationship.A sense of constancy and predictability appeared alsoto result from knowing one's the partner over a period oftime; as described in this statement.I think there's a certain comfort between each of usknowing full well that we've come to a point in lifewhere I don't thing there's going to be a radicalchange in my partner and that's what she sees in metoo.Knowing that your partner is walking down the same pathseemed provide the sense of stability. "We're both headingin the same direction and that you know is very good andagain that makes me feel close to my wife." Another manstated, "We have common goals that definitely makes us feelconnected."60One man found that commitment in his relationshipprovided for feelings of closeness. "When things aren'tgoing so well, I think the closeness, the intimacy orwhatever it is, is partly fuelled just by the commitmentthat we have for each other."Another man describes being a central member in hisfamily as a source of closeness."The closeness was being part of a family...animportant part of myself, part of my own being as aperson and individual.. .is to be part of afamily...what is really great for me is that there isthree generations of us.. .I think a sense ofcontinuity.. .this is wonderful... I guess we realizewe're doing it together and we have this closeness andthere can be nothing else."His sense of rootedness came from seeing his relationship asa constant, which has the foundation of being connected to alarger community.Finally, one man presented a statement of his caringand commitment to his partner, which is a result of hisfeeling of rootedness. "It's just that you really careabout that person and you feel really close to them and youdon't know how the hell you would ever live without them."Having a sense of history together, commitment,predictability, being a part of a socially endorsedposition, and constancy are the ways the men felt rooted intheir relationship. This dimension of intimacy, being61rooted in their special and unique relationship is intenselyfelt by these men.In summary the six dimensions of closeness depictedexemplify the qualitatively different ways the menparticipating in this research conceived intimacy. Thesedimensions; attunement, collaboration, separateness, trust,empathy, and rootedness, are the shades of closenessexpressed in varying examples.^Attunement appeared todescribe the men's feeling of "being in sync" with theirpartner, a compatibility which presents a basic fit betweentow people. Collaboration involved the ways the partnersworked together and coordinated as a team. Distinctivenesssuggested that closeness was experience through the ways inwhich the couple maintained their autonomy. Trust withinthe relationship was underscored in many of the manyexperiences of closeness. Empathy, appearing as meetingneeds, emphasized the ability to merge with the partnersemotional or psychological state. Finally, rootednesspresents the historical context of the relationship andappears to contribute to the cohesiveness of therelationship. These dimensions have emerged as distinctelements found in the ways in which the men experiencedintimacy.62MANIFESTATIONS OF CLOSENESS The ways in which closeness is experienced can becategorized into three general manifestations. Thesemanifestations are determined through the process ofcondensing the men's examples of their experiences in whichthey described as being intimate. The three categoriesinclude shared experiences, acceptance and support, andspecialness. These manifestations are the ways in whichintimacy is experienced and the context of the variousdimension.Shared Experience Shared experiences encompass activities in which thereis participation between two intimates. Experienced interms of the present rather than as a reflection on pastevents, doing things together tended to bring the twointimates to a feeling of closeness. For example, thecouples might share nature in a walk, enjoy an intellectualdebate about a movie, fight or make love. In each case, thecouples actively did something together and focused on theimmediate moment.Shared acts with partners are relational exchangeswhich present the forum to express collective concerns.Behavioral acts of caring and concern were manifestedthrough active involvement. Values, attitudes, affects,thoughts, and beliefs were imparted both verbally andnonverbally in these exchanges. As a result of shared acts,a partner experienced increased understanding of self or the63partner, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of "we-ness".A range of intensities, from feelings of comfort andunderstanding to potent feelings of union are experiencedthrough collaboration. There are degrees of coordinatedaction which may imply different intensities of involvement.A shared act may be as simple as a walk along the beach,making a meal together, being playful or reflecting on theday's events.Closeness is felt through physical presence, beingtogether which occurs often by the sharing of the mundane,as when one man described his experience of going for a walkwith his partner. "It was just nice, warm, a shared momentin time of strolling along, talking about whatever happensto come to mind. Enjoying the sights, not only of naturebut the people." This example illustrates the simple act ofsharing and enjoying each other's presence in the moment.He feels close to his partner through engaging in anactivity with her.At times closeness was demonstrated through sharingthat involved more deliberate planning such as in theenactment of religious rituals, planning an excursion, orbuying a house. The dimension of collaboration figuresprominently as the partners require the ability to worktogether towards an objective, to share control, tonegotiate, to be fair, and to share investment in a goal orproject. The couple performed as a team so as to attend to64obstacles, and closeness was experienced through theircoordination of activity in overcoming those obstacles.For other men closeness was found through activities inwhich the context of privacy was emphasized. Events such astaking time out of the day to share concerns, being on asecluded island or a Sunday drive were experiences presentedby the men in which closeness was intensely felt. Theelement of privacy in which the men's attention was focusedwithout distractions appears to provide an environment forthe experiences of closeness.Among the men, the degree of closeness increased asshared experiences involved deeper levels of confiding, moreintense emotions, and feelings of vulnerability notably inthe wake of a crises. At times when deeper, morepenetrating exposure of inner selves was shared, closenessbecame more potent. The feeling which might be described as"oneness" seemed to encircle the intimates through varioussituations in which specific values and beliefs were acutelyshared and in intimate experiences such as making love.Again, these activities excluded others underscoring thecontext of privacy. This point was exemplified by one man inthe following example.I guess the times of greatest intimacy...occur when Iget rid of all these outside influences. .when we gettogether, like I have a little summer cabin...and whenwe get over there and for an extended period of timeand away from all the rest of the crap we65somehow...it's just that somehow it seems morewhole...there's no distractions.. .it's a feeling ofbeing strongly connected with another of being aliverather than just being...existing. And really beingrather than running around doing and it gives me asense of wholeness.This man feels close when he can stop his day to day routineand take the time to be with his partner. The concept ofbeing together as noted by this man also leads him to feelalive and whole.In summary shared experience or activities provide thevehicle of expression for the immediate feeling ofcloseness. The couple act in coordination and mutuallyshare experiences in which a shared meaning is expressed.Further, closeness is felt in the moment of the jointaction. The intimate pair successfully collaborate toattend to daily as well as extraordinary events in a waywhich contributes to an atmosphere of mutual respect andadmiration. The partners lives mingle together throughsharing of numerous experiences. Shared experiences is oneof the manifestations of intimacy in which many of thedimensions noted in the previous section are apparent.Dimension such as attunement, collaboration and empathy areexpressed within the shared experience.66Acceptance and Support The essential element of this manifestation is the lackof criticism and positive regard either experienced orprovided by the men. The experience of closeness derivedfrom the experience of acceptance which ranges from afeeling of psychological safety wherein the self is notthreatened to a feeling of affirmation of self. Feelingsupported appeared to be an implicit expression ofacceptance. This manifestation was understood with respectto the emphasis of the experience of acceptance and supportfound in the men's statements. While the context of ashared experience was present the accent was on theexperiences of acceptance and support.The experience of a non-critical and positive attitudeseemed to involve a range or continuum of intensity. At oneend of the continuum is an implicit or felt sense ofacceptance with respect to specific behaviors, feelings andthoughts. At the other end of the continuum is a feeling ofbeing actively appreciated by or appreciating the other.Descriptions of incidents in which a partners thoughts,feelings or actions were both acknowledged and valued oftenemphasized the experience of acceptance. These events oftensuggested a sense of being understood and revered. Opencommunication in which ideas and feelings were freelyexpressed without fear of embarrassment or retribution, wasemphasized as an important and ongoing indicator of feelingaccepted.67It was noted that acceptance of differing views andbeliefs were respected and valued by the men as positiveadditions to the richness of the relationships. One manprovides an example which illustrates his value and respectfor his partner's career which differs greatly from his own.At one stage I thought I would love to do workshopswith her but I don't have any training in that area soI can't do it. But somehow to me that would give me anopportunity to experience her world a little more thanI do know... that would increase the feeling ofintimacy. The same when she's interested in what I'mdoing and I'm telling her about my work, my field....Itmakes me feel good to tell her (about my work)...but Ialso like it when she tells me some of her skills orsome of her observations.This man shows that he values his partner's differinginterests by wanting to become more involved. He alsoexpresses his positive feelings when he is reciprocallyinvolved in exploring each of their skills. The essence ofhis experience is his feeling of both acceptance and supportfor and by his partner.More intense feeling of closeness were experienced bythe men in this study in situations wherein vulnerabilityand/or sensitive feelings were concerned. Situations ofvulnerability included events such as those triggered bysentimental movies or having made errors which lead to theirfeeling exposed and being personally out of control. One68man spoke about feeling free to express deep sadness whenwatching a poignant movie. He stated, "the end of the movieboth of us were quite moved and I was tearing... I feltparticularly close and felt like I was exposed to her. " Itappears that sharing inner feelings, opening up, presentedthis man with his experience of being close with hispartner. Implicit in this experience is a felt sense ofacceptance.Some men found closeness when they were not criticizedfor making mistakes. One example of this is found in asituation in which a man's extramarital affair was forgivenby his partner. "The fact that she basically accepted it,she accepted me after that. I felt very close to her... shewanted to know what happened, she was very concerned.. Iwas amazed she wanted to go through that because she wantedto understand." The focus for this man's closeness was onreceiving acceptance from his partner in a situation wherehe was vulnerable to being rejected.A potent level of acceptance was depicted in situationswhere a sense of pride or appreciation was elicited. Thesemen felt intense closeness when they were able to affirmtheir partner's skills or specific extraordinary actions.For example, one man described feeling very close to hiswife as she saw her providing support to him and his familywhen his father had died.My father's death last year.. .that was pretty intense.It was amazing. She was support for myself and a lot69of people and I felt extremely proud of her. Veryclose that she was able to comfort, be a rock ofstrength really. This feeling of being one with one(is how) I felt after the death...that was aparticularly loving or a close kind of situation.In this example this man felt a deep closeness to hispartner through his admiration of his partner's ability todeal with their family crisis. Another example of men'saffirmation experiences were found in their noteworthydescription of their partner's child-rearing practises.There appears with some men a sense of reciprocity ofacceptance and support in that closeness was experiencedthrough a two-way exchange rather than one of aunidirectional nature. And yet, some men did focus more onevents when they were receiving rather than providingsupport.One man's experience with receiving support from hispartner was found in his description of the death of hischild.I felt really close to her, I sensed that she was morethan being there bodily, she was there spiritually ...sort of propping me up spiritually as well as bodily.I was devastated... If she hadn't been there and therewouldn't have been (any reason to live)...it's justlike shared spirits.. .there's a melding somehow on adifferent level.70This man's description illustrates a potent expression offeeling supported which involves a deeper level ofconnectedness in relation to the theme of spirituality.In summary, it appears that acceptance and supportplayed a major role in the way these men experiencedintimacy regardless of whether it was explicitly orimplicitly expressed. The key experiences exemplifyingacceptance and support as a manifestation of closenessincluded; open communication, lack of criticism, positiveregard, validation, safety in expressing vulnerability, andthe affirmation of their partner.Specialness Specialness evolves out of an entire history, a timeline dotted with special events which were a composite andinseparable from the special connection shared by the twointimates. Upon reflection of past events feelings ofspecialness were evoked. A sense of familiarity,consistency, and comfort developed from repeated ritualswhich demarcated both mundane and significant events.Specialness was experienced in light of a sharedhistory as seen in one man's reflection during his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration.After twenty-five years... it was a matter ofhistory... We had gone through so much and done so manythings. We've had a lot of arguments and there were alot of dissatisfactions but despite all that we were71still together and there were still things that we sawin each other that we wouldn't want to give up or wecouldn't give up on.This example suggests that the relationship carries ahistory of experiences. The specialness of having a historytogether shadows the significance of past negativeexperiences. Overall, there appears a recognition orknowledge of a lasting commitment in their relationship.Intense feelings of aliveness and wholeness wereelicited from events which involved peak life events.During stressful situations, an increased awareness could beseen to occur between two intimates. Some of the men forexample, emphasized a special feeling of connectedness withtheir partner during occasions of child birth as illustratedby the following.I guess in terms of behavioral things it was.., justthe look between us, the quick look between our eyes;me maybe having tears in my eyes and her, sort of herjust closing and opening her eyes from being totallytired. And just sort of looking at each other. Justthe sort of silent little demonstrations.., from my endI felt connected and that we both knew what we meant.You know, when I know what I mean and when I don't haveto say it when I look, that's when I know that I'mclose.This description evokes the sense that this man was feelinga high level of closeness which relates to his knowing that72his partner and he were in sync around something greaterthat the relationship; something that words could not doservice. This event can be seen as an illustration ofspecialness in two ways. First, it is a significant eventwhich involves the unique feeling of "we-ness." Secondly,this event will be an important part of their sharedhistory.The sense of "we-ness" is also found in situationswhere the intimates shared intense feelings in the face ofadversity, re-iterating the importance of specialness. Herea man described how he felt part of a unified front whilefacing a conflict.I knew if push came to shove she would go with me, thenI felt very close and secure with her and also thatkind of gave her the power to negotiate our way out ofit...the fact that we were united on this front...wesaw it in the same way, that's what makes thecloseness.Here the couple faced a situation in which they shared thesame feeling (being in sync) which in turn led them tofeeling connected. This "we-ness" is the emotionalfoundation which contributes to a sense of specialness.In summary, the sense of specialness elicited thefeeling of closeness for these men. The experiences fromwhich specialness emerges is the history of therelationship. Over the history of the relationship theintimates create a special meaning which is based on shared73goals, values, feelings, actions, and aspirations. Therelationship history includes numerous events some which arenoteworthy because they involve the intense feeling of "we-ness". From the couples history a joint life story followsand future chapters, rooted in the pairs mutuality, isanticipated.The manifestations; shared experience, acceptance andsupport, and specialness, are the ways in which the men inthis study experienced closeness. The dimensions ofcloseness are throughout these manifestations.CONNECTIONS BETWEEN MANIFESTATIONS The experiences conveyed by the men in this study oftenrevealed a connection between differing manifestations ofcloseness. The significance of a manifestation was oftenrelated or depended on the presence of another. Forexample, at various points during a shared activity theexperience of acceptance and support was also evident.Furthermore, certain special events or circumstances weremore prone to evoke more intense feelings of being acceptedand supported. Though feelings of acceptance may haveoccurred during the reflection upon specific events, moreintense feelings seemed to take place during the moment ofthe actual event the men described experiencing. Closenessis manifested through the feeling of acceptance which occursin the moment of the shared event. Another example of the74interrelatedness of the manifestations appears with regardsto specialness and acceptance. What provides the experienceof specialness may involve an intense feeling of acceptanceand support. It appears, that though each of themanifestations can stand on their own, theirinterconnectedness is also important and necessary.RELATEDNESS BETWEEN MANIFESTATIONS AND DIMENSIONS As was noted earlier manifestations are the ways in whichintimacy was experienced and dimensions are distinctqualities woven throughout the manifestations. One or moredimensions may be found within a manifestation. Forexample, the experience of child birth as this man describesinvolves specific dimensions,The (intimate) experiences I recall best are thoseinvolved some kind of crisis... We were frequentlydealing with problems with the children as they wereborn and the problems that we had to overcome.Especially with the second daughter who had developedepilepsy. These were the times where we were theclosest.^Where my wife was in need of a lot ofsupport.. .It was very difficult for her I felt I had todo was just be there for her and to encourage...I don'tthink I did anything encouraging but I was justpresent... the second pregnancy was also verydifficult... again I felt very close...I felt sheneeded the assurance that I was there... that she75wasn't going to have to handle this by herself and wewere going to share this responsibility.Closeness was experienced at the time of a shared experienceas well as in an atmosphere of acceptance and support.Within this experience is the presence of collaboration,empathy, trust, and the indication of rootedness. Thisexample illustrates the connection between manifestation anddimensions of intimacy.76CHAPTER VDISCUSSIONThe purpose of this study was to attain an in-depth andmeaningful understanding of the concept of intimacy throughan exploration of men's perception and experiences. Aphenomenographic approach was selected as the methodologyfor this study. This approach was considered appropriategiven the aims of this investigation. The first aim of thisstudy was to provide a deeper understanding of intimacy as aconcept and to flush out possible qualitatively differingdistinctions and interpretations. The second aim was tocompare the various distinctions and understandings withcurrent theoretical perspectives. A third aim was toprovide counsellors with an increased understanding of thepossible ways in which their male clients might experienceintimacy.Eight semi-structured interviews provided both personalconceptions and specific experiences of intimacy. Eachinterview was reviewed and various accounts and distinctionswere extracted. These distinctions were categorized on thebasis of sharing similar characteristics and meaning.Independent reviewers validated specific accounts andconceptual distinctions. Two types of categorizations wereused to appropriately describe the results of this study.First, six distinct qualities or dimensions were found to77emerge from the statements and examples provided by thesemen; attunement, collaboration, trust, empathy,distinctiveness, and rootedness. These dimensions werewoven throughout the experiences presented. A second levelof categorization was warranted in order to describe theways in which intimacy was experienced. Shared experiences,acceptance and support, and specialness were delineated asmanifestations of intimacy.LIMITATIONS There are certain limitations that might be addressedconcerning this study. Perhaps the most noteworthylimitation is that the results of this study may not beextended to the general male population given the smallnumber of respondents. The concern of sample size isrelevant in the context of a traditional statisticalresearch perspective. For example, the results of the studycannot be generalized to a specific population in which aparticular characteristic is the focus (ie. age, culturalbackground, or any psychological/psychiatric concern).Another limitation regarding the size of the sample isthe potential number of qualitatively different distinctionsthat may have been generated. A larger group of men withvarying backgrounds and circumstances could have potentiallyprovided a greater amount of differing conceptions or modesof experiences. Therefore, the addition of more respondents78would have increased the levels of credibility andconfidence in this study.The results of this study may also have been limited bythe degree or level to which the participants were capableof articulating their thoughts and experiences. While theinterviews were conducted in a manner which attempted tofacilitate clear articulations among the participants, theirresponses may have been limited by their willingness andcapacities. Two of the participants appeared to be morearticulate than others given their counselling backgroundand training, which encourages self-disclosure and self-analysis. They appeared to able, to some extent, providemore direct statements about how they understood intimacy.Some interviews did indicate that other participantsexperienced difficulty providing clear verbalization oftheir thoughts about intimacy as opposed to theirexperiences. However, it is important to note that units ofmeaning emerged both from respondents statements andexperiences.Overall, participants were motivated to disclose theirthoughts and experiences regarding intimacy, however, theremay have been other conceptions and experiences which werenot reported as these were not in their immediateconsciousness. Perhaps lengthier and/or subsequentinterviews would have provided additional and more conciseconceptions and experiences of intimacy.79One final methodological consideration should be noted.Confidence, in this study, would have been increased had theparticipants been given the opportunity to ongoingly reviewthe data and results. A "member checks" is an importantoperation to be used to increase the credibility of a studyusing a naturalist paradigm (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).IMPLICATIONS FOR THEORYThis study has attempted to explore the concept ofintimacy as interpreted and experienced by men. Thissection will discuss the results of this study in light ofexisting theories and conceptions of intimacy. Particularattention will be paid to a recent study by Snyder (1991) asher approach to understanding intimacy was similar to theapproach used in this study. Some general concernsregarding current theories and earlier research are worthnoting at this time. Firstly, theorists have tended toapproach intimacy from preconceived definitions andconceptions which have not been substantiated. Few studieshave directly examined the nature of intimacy. Secondly,most studies have been conducted using operationaldefinitions of intimacy which were based on a-prioriassumptions regarding the components of intimacy. Theseoperational definitions appear to have been developed from apositivist perspective which supports the notion that thereindependent variables which represent a single reality of aphenomenon. Thirdly, conclusions about gender differences80and intimacy have been based on unfounded theories andspurious research.Most psychodynamic theorists have suggested thatintimacy is strongly associated with sexuality. Erikson(1963) proposed that intimacy and sexuality are inextricablylinked. The findings of this study did not clearly supportthis assumption. Some men in this study did state that theyfelt intimate while involved in sexual behaviors, however,they did not describe their experiences in a manner whichwould support psychoanalytic theory. Some of the men inthis study made reference to sexuality as a sharedexperience which involved the expression or development oftrust within their relationships. Sexual experiences werealso referred to within a context of being a more intensenon-verbal expression of warmth and connectedness.Consistent with the statements regarding sexuality in thisstudy, respondents in Snyder's study also found that sexualbehaviors bestowed feelings of closeness.Object Relations theorists Balint (1965) and Kernberg(1977) proposed that sexual orgasm provides the highestlevel of intimacy. The men in this study did not describeorgasm in intercourse as a conception or experience ofintimacy. Givelber (1990), however, proposed an ObjectRelations theory of intimacy which included a broader viewwhich does not focus on sexuality. This study did supportsome of his interpretations concerning the conception ofintimacy and will be discussed later in this section.81Sexuality has been emphasized as a necessary or soleexpression of intimacy by psychodynamic theorists thefindings of this study did not generally support this pointof view. It is interesting to note that there exists apopular assumption that male intimacy is restricted tosexual activity. This notion of males experience ofintimacy was not supported in this study.Intimacy has been viewed as an orientation which ismaintained by the expression of particular behaviors. Menhave often been viewed as not oriented towards intimacy asthey do not exhibit specific behaviors. Quantitativeresearch addressing intimacy has often attempted to supportthe idea that men are not intimate or that they are, atbest, less intimate than women. Conclusions andgeneralizations about men's and women's orientations towardsintimacy, based on measurements or ratings pertaining to oneor more behaviors, is unfounded and unjustified. Forexample, in the "McGill Report on Male Intimacy" it wasconcluded that men were significantly less intimate thanwomen. This conclusion was based on responses by men andwomen who had been given an intimacy self-report inventoryquestionnaire. This questionnaire was developed usingJourard's (1971) operational definition of intimacy whichpresumed that self-disclosure is equal to intimacy. Thenotion that self-disclosure is a valid measure of intimacyhas not been substantiated by existing research. Thisillustrates the concern that conclusions about men and82intimacy has been based on research which used questionablea priori assumptions about intimacy. In any event,quantitative research does not appear to offer much in theway of conceptual clarification for the concept of intimacy.Self-disclosure has been directly associated with theconceptualization of intimacy and has often been employed asan operational definition in primary research. No directstatement or experience relayed by the men in this studyexplicitly indicated self-disclosure as a quality ormanifestation of intimacy. Implicit evidence of the sharingof self was found in experiences illustrated by thedimension of trust. Men described experiences where theyfelt vulnerable, were being themselves, and were being opento saying anything, which suggested that they weredisclosing or revealing themselves. Snyder (1991) in herstudy suggested that these types of responses are associatedwith revealing the inner self which leads to knowing orbeing known. However, the emphasis or essence of thecomments made by the men in this study seemed to suggestthat their feelings of closeness were more related to theirsense of trust than with the act or experience of self-disclosure. Although the men did not directly state thatintimacy involved revealing their inner selves, one maypostulate that their references to feeling vulnerable andrevealing negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors, might beassociated with having exposed deeper or more defended partsof themselves. Again, the men's references to this sort of83disclosure was in the context of trusting that no negativerepercussions, such as rejection, would follow. One shouldnot conclude from the results of this study, however, thatthe act of self-disclosure is a definition or centralcomponent of intimacy.Some theorists and researchers have proposed that trustand/or the atmosphere of trust is an important component ofintimacy. According to the experiences of the men in thisstudy, trust was clearly woven into their sense of beingintimate. Consistent with this study, Snyder (1991), alsofound that trust was a major theme in her respondent'sexperiences of intimacy. However, in her study, some of therespondents associated trust with revealing the self whileothers did not provide clear explanations of what they meantby trust. Hinde (1981) described a trusting attitude as onein which partners vulnerability would be accepted and notexploited. This understanding of trust is consistent withthe experiences of some of the men in this study.Attunement, the sense of being "in sync" with theother, was presented as one dimension of intimacy in thisstudy. While this quality of intimate relationship has notbeen addressed in the existing literature in these terms, itappears that it may be closely linked to Snyder's (1991)theme of closeness. Her respondent's described being closeemotionally, physically, and spiritually. Their statementsabout closeness revealed an acknowledgment of sharedthoughts, emotions, and a sense of spiritual communion.84Attunement, as described in this study, suggested similarattributes. In fact, some of the language used by the menin this study which illustrated their sense of being inharmony with their partner, was paralleled with Synder'srespondents. Nonverbal components of closeness, asdescribed by Snyder's respondents, were also similar to theways in which the men in this study exemplified thedimension of attunement. Whether a behavior involved a non-verbal act, such as a visual glance or sexual activity, theessence of "being in sync" was apparent. The dimension ofattunement in this study was expressed in a variety of waysbeing often involving different levels of intensity.Empathy has also been viewed as a major concern inconceptualizing intimacy. As was mentioned in theliterature review, empathy has not been consistentlydefined. Traditionally, empathy has been defined asunderstanding the other's point of view and furthercommunicating this knowledge verbally. Emotionalexpressiveness has also been associated with empathy.Empathy, for the men in this study did not involve directverbal communications of their awareness. Rather, theyexpressed their understanding and concerns through actionswhich involved meeting the needs of their partners or havingtheir own needs met.Existing theory and research as previously noted, hassuggested that women are viewed as more empathic than menwhen deciphering the emotions of others by using verbal85descriptions. The results of this study suggest that menmay empathize with others through actions rather than verbalresponses. Unfortunately, as men have not seen to exhibitthe set of behaviors prescribed which indicate the qualityof being empathic and they have been viewed as inadequate inintimate relationships.The dimension of distinctiveness suggested that menfelt close when they appreciated and valued the differencesbetween themselves and their partners. This dimensionappeared to be similar to Snyder's (1991) theme ofacceptance. Her respondents noted that they felt intimatewhen their true selves were being accepted and valued bytheir partners. Implicit in their experience of acceptancewas the validation of differences. Acceptance in thisstudy, however, was viewed as a manifestation with one ofthe dimensions, distinctiveness, evidenced throughoutexperiences of being intimate. Distinctiveness may involvethe notion of individuation or separateness as thereappeared to be a focus not just on acceptance, but a moreintense feeling of admiration for individual differences.The dimension of distinctiveness also referred to asense of separateness. Separateness was considered a uniqueor secondary theme of intimacy in Snyder's (1991) study.Her respondents appeared to focus on the feeling of beingindependent within the relationship, which in turn led to asense of personal freedom. One man in this study,similarly, spoke about appreciating having his own space and86being separate without feeling disengaged from his partner.The impression of separateness or autonomy as beingconnected to intimacy is also suggested in a ObjectRelations theory of intimacy (Givelber, 1990). According tothis theory, in order to have viable intimacy each partnermust have individuated sufficiently from their family oforigin. Givelber stated, "In a marriage of two reasonablyintegrated people, differing character styles arecomplementary to one another and are experienced aspleasurable and valuable". The results from this studyappeared to support Givelber's theory given the men'sstatements about their appreciation and admiration of theirpartner's differences.An active process, collaboration, was highlighted as adimension of intimacy, wherein, the couple activelyparticipated to achieve a specific goal. Few concepts ofintimacy in the literature have included collaboration as adimension or component of intimacy. One exception, ObjectRelations theory of intimacy as established by Givelber(1990), ascribed to the idea that collaboration is animportant component of intimacy. He described collaborationas, "the act of working together and cooperating in apartnership" (p.177). Consistent with this theory, the menin this study described situations in which a variety ofcollaborative skills were employed in everyday living aswell as in achieving a specific goal. The sense of working87well together was an important concern for these men'sexperience of intimacy.The dimension of rootedness also appeared to be uniqueto the previous and current views of intimacy. Some of thequalities such as commitment and togetherness whichexemplify rootedness are inferred in some of the statementsmade by the respondents in Snyder's (1991) study. However,the emphasis of their statements were associated withdifferent themes of intimacy. In this study, the dimensionof rootedness suggested that a quality intimacy involves asense of a special relational composite, a portrait of twopeople together. The statements of the men in this studysuggested that their intimate relationship was firmlygrounded which allowed for feelings of comfort andcloseness.This study presented the ways in which intimacy wasexperienced, and further categorizing those experiences asmanifestations. Acitelli and Duck (1987) noted thatexisting conceptions emphasized individual characteristicsexisting prior to or within current relationships.Furthermore, Weingarten (1991) in her critique of SocialConstructionist and Feminist frameworks of intimacy,suggested that intimacy is found through creatingexperiences in which meaning is shared. These theoristssuggested that research attention needs to shift towardslocating intimacy in the interactions between partners.While this study did not directly focus on interactions, nor88were partners of the participants interviewed for thepresence of shared meaning, the category of manifestationprovided a relational understanding of intimacy.Three manifestations of intimacy emerged from theinterviews. These included shared experiences, acceptanceand support, and specialness. Some characteristics of themanifestations are worth noting at this point. Theexperiences which illustrated the manifestations appeared tohave varying degrees of intensity. Each experience wasqualitatively distinct and meaningful in relation to theindividual. The dimensions described earlier were foundwoven throughout the manifestations and contributed to therichness and meaning of the experiences of intimacy. Forexample, a shared experience such as a child birth eventexhibited the dimensions of trust, empathy, and rootedness.These dimensions expressed qualities which clarify themeaning of the event. The manifestations will next bediscussed in terms of their implications for the conceptionof intimacy.In this study shared experiences emerged as an crucialway in which intimacy was experienced in the present. Doingthings together, whether it be a special event or a mundaneactivity, were seen as ways these men experienced intimacy.The degree of intensity of feeling appeared to be related tothe meaning of the event. For example, a shared experiencein which a crisis was occurring often suggested intensefeelings of intimacy. To the present, few theorists or89researchers acknowledge shared experiences as a validconception of intimacy. Most researchers, in fact, appearedto diminish the importance of shared experience and tendedto view it as an inadequate expression of intimacy. Therespondents in Snyder's (1991) study, however, did includeshared experiences as a component of intimacy. While Snyderviewed shared experiences as a theme of intimacy, this studytakes the position that shared experience is a manifestationwhich holds varying dimensions.The feeling of intimacy expressed by the respondents inthis study was experienced through the various waysacceptance and support were manifested. Acceptance, at onelevel, provided the context for being open and trusting. Atanother level, a deeper, more potent expression ofacceptance was seen in situations where intensive supportwas needed. Acceptance was also expressed as the validationand affirmation. While numerous theory's regarding intimacyhave stressed revealing and knowing the inner self few ofthese theories emphasize the importance of acceptance andsupport of the self. When acceptance and support are notedin existing theories, the way they are described appears tobe focused on verbal expressions rather than on instrumentalbehaviors. The men in this study felt supported morethrough actions and behaviors rather than generatingverbalizations about how they accepted or felt accepted bytheir partners. Acceptance was clearly noted by the way90these men celebrated their value and appreciation for and bytheir partners.Intimacy as manifested by the sense or experience ofspecialness is a particularly salient concern in thisresearch. This concept does not appear to be addressed inpast or current theories of intimacy. Yet for the men inthis study it held a substantial position in theirexperiences and statements about intimacy. The experienceof being in a special relationship was characterized as richin form, texture, and possessing colors with differing huesand shades. Perhaps an apt metaphor is the notion of aportrait of two people which captures a connection thatexists on many levels and through many experiences. The menalso described special experiences in which a particularfeeling of comfort and commitment was present. Theexperience of specialness was found arising from events inwhich life and death were of concern; situations whichappeared to transcend the present. This concept of intimacydid not appear in existing theory or research.Some of findings of this study supported and extendedcertain preconceived notions and theories of intimacy. Thedimensions of attunement, trust, empathy, separateness andcollaboration appeared in a variety of different theories,while one dimension, rootedness, appeared to be a novelcomponent of intimacy. An important understanding whichemerged from this study is that intimacy cannot equated withone behavior or position. Intimacy appeared to involve many91qualities not just one behavior such as self-disclosure orempathy. Furthermore, a quality or dimension of intimacywas expressed in a variety of forms and intensities whichhave not been evident in previous research. The reason forthis discrepancy may be due to the lack of contextualconsiderations and the focus on measuring isolatedvariables.Theorists concentrating on intimacy have consideredthe question of whether intimacy is a process or a state.Snyder (1991) in her study proposed a theory in whichintimacy was viewed as both a process and a state. Thethemes which emerged from the results of her study werecategorized as either a process, state, or having elementsof being both a process and a state. Themes which shecategorized as a state included experiences of feelingaccepted, safe and warm. The process of intimacy wasreflected in activities such as self-disclosure and non-verbal expressions which suggested the sense of doing,rather than being. She also pointed out that some of therespondents emphasized the combination of having thesensation of intimacy while also acting intimately.Acitelli and Duck (1987) distinguished a state of intimacyas being a "relatively static end product or goal" (p. 300),and the process of intimacy as being fluent and shiftingover time.The results of this study can be seen to support thetheorization that intimacy is both a state and a process.92For example, intimacy appeared as a state when experiencedin the moment of a shared event. Men spoke of feelings andthoughts of closeness during an activity with a partner.Intimacy was also seen as a process when viewing anexperience which held, for example, the sense of rootedness.The description of a relationship with a special personwhich had a history and a secure foundation inferred thenotion that intimacy occurs through a process which developsover time. An example where intimacy could be both a stateand a process was found when a couple was collaborating.When working towards a shared goal intimacy was experiencedboth as a process and state. There is evidence that theremay be a feedback loop involved in this concept of intimacy.The process of intimacy may be developed from experiencingvarious states, which in turn, lead to new states ofintimacy. For example, an experience in which trust ishighlighted may lead to a stronger sense of rootedness andmore intense feelings of attunement. The theory ofintimacy, in relation to being a state or a process or both,is a fairly new concept and deserves further consideration.In summary, the results of this study expanded as wellas disputed existing theories and conceptions of intimacy.The dimensions and manifestations found through aphenomenographical approach provided a more rich andholistic understanding of intimacy. Dimensions such asseparateness, collaboration and rootedness are not apparentin most theories. Further, intimacy has been theorized from93the approach of how it is manifested which has provided thecharacterization of intimacy as existing as a gestalt.Existing research has tended to isolate specific behaviorswhich has led to a superficial analysis of this phenomena.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Intimacy has become an increasingly important area ofconcern in the practice of counselling individuals andcouples. The concern of this study has been how intimacy isconceived and experienced in natural circumstances. Theinformation gleaned from the interviews of the men in thisstudy could provide more in-depth and meaningfulunderstanding towards assisting counsellors in theirclinical practices. Intervention in counselling is directedby particular theoretical perspectives. Current theories ofintimacy appear inadequate in providing counsellors with anaccurate understanding of intimacy. Psychologicalinventories and programs have been developed to assistcounsellors towards enhancing intimacy in couples. From theoutset, many of these programs base their understanding ofintimacy on research which is based on pre-conceived notionsof intimacy. Assumptions regarding intimacy have oftenfocused on isolated variables rather than on the context ofthe whole person. Often programs emphasis enhancement ofindividuals or couples capacities for specific behaviorssuch as self-disclosure and empathy as means to increaseintimacy. One difficulty with this approach is that it is94often assumed that if these behaviors are not presentintimacy is lacking. It is believed that focusing onincreasing specific behavioral patterns is insufficient aswell as unfounded.Using a phenomenographical approach to explore intimacy hasprovided a more holistic depiction of intimacy. This studyprovided an expanded understanding of how intimacy isconceptualized and experienced which can facilitatecounsellors in terms of helping clients who are concernedwith intimacy.This phenomenographical understanding invitescounsellors to attend to intimacy through the eyes of theclient rather than on prevailing societal discourse.Counsellors' understanding of a holistic portrayal ofintimacy would help them understand a client's concernswithin a personal context. Further, counsellors with anexpanded knowledge of possible conceptions and experiencesof intimacy will be able to support and facilitateexploration and empowerment of client skills.The six dimensions of intimacy that have emerged fromthe results of this study suggest potential components ofintimacy that clients might develop or enhance. The threemanifestations that portray the ways in which intimacy isexperienced provide possible avenues of exploration toenable a process of increasing and developing intimacy innatural contexts.95The counsellor might venture forth with engaging aclient(s) in a discussion around identifying theirconceptions of intimacy. It may be helpful to understand theorigins of their understanding of intimacy in the context oftheir cultural belief systems. This approach willfacilitate the counsellors' conceptualization of theclient's schema of intimacy. Further, counsellors' mightidentify whether the client may be experiencing self-deprecation in relation to not exhibiting specific behaviorswhich have been traditionally associated with intimacy.Male clients who have adopted an understanding that theirways of being in relationships is non-intimate may besusceptible to affects consistent with an attitude ofworthlessness and inadequacy. It may be helpful for clientsto have different understanding of aspects of theirexperiences and reframing their actions and experiences asmeaningful ways of being intimate.Within the context of marital counselling the resultsof this study could provide counsellors with a more holisticunderstanding which could help as guide through the domainof intimacy. Understanding conceptions of intimacy derivedfrom experiences will help counsellors assist clientstowards creating their own experiences. Often clients arebound by pre-conceived notions of intimacy. Theseassumptions abo;ut intimacy have been constructed from thedominant cultural discourse which in turn have been informed96by unfounded theories. Counsellors may help couples exploreand clarify their own experiences of intimacy.Counsellors will be able to view individual'sexperiences as intimate which would not have been consideredvalid by existing assumptions of intimacy. For example, acounsellor might call attention to a shared experience as apossible way that intimacy might be manifested. Thecounsellor may also highlight the presence of variousdimensions such as collaboration, empathy and trust withinthe context of a shared experience.A clinician might also support the couple in developinga plan for meeting each others differing ways ofexperiencing intimacy. For example, a man may need toengage in a collaborative activity with his partner as a wayto experience closeness. Counsellors could also validatethe differing ways dimensions are experienced. For example,the counsellor might help partners observe the differentways empathy or trust may be expressed. Understanding thenatural context for intimacy appears to be a more fruitfulway for counsellors to facilitate change. Helping people tobecome more aware of potential contexts will validate pastand existing ways of being as well as facilitate thecreation of new experiences.With respect to research application this study couldused to assist in developing a more comprehensive inventorywhich could be used to survey larger populations. It hasbeen suggested that the use of questionnaires and self-97report inventories are problematic, in part, because theyare often derived from theories and concepts which are notsubstantiated by concrete evidence. This study couldprovide a stronger foundation for the development of self-report inventories. An inventory which has beensubstantiated by qualitative research could provide a higherdegree of credibility for a quantitative study of a largerpopulation.IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCHThe purpose of this study, using a phenomenographicalapproach, has been to explore the conceptions of intimacy ina natural context. Existing theories and research havetended to focus on isolated variables which have not beensubstantiated as valid conceptions of intimacy. Thecontribution of this study has been to provide a more richand meaningful understanding of the conception of intimacy.Given the small number of respondents, however, it isdifficult to generalize the results to a larger population.It would therefore be valuable to conduct more studies usinga similar approach to corroborate and expand the findings ofthis research.New distinctions and experiences may be discovered byfurther research using a phenomenographical methodology.Further, studies might be conducted to explore each of thedimensions uncovered in this study. For example, thedimension of collaboration and it's role in the experience98of intimacy might be elaborated and extended. Explorationof any one of the manifestations might also reveal moredimensions not found through this inquiry.An exploration of different stages of a relationshipwould be informative. This study focused on men who were inthe same relationship for a minimum of seven years. Futurestudies might explore the experiences intimacy in newerrelationships. As the dimensions of rootedness and sense ofspecialness implicitly involved a historical context, itwould be helpful to know if or how they affect intimacy inyounger relationships.It would be worthwhile to determine if intimacy issimilarly and simultaneously experienced by both partners.Perhaps collecting reports of experiences from both partnersand comparing the meaning for each partner would provideincreased validation for the dimensions and manifestationsof intimacy.It may be beneficial to investigate the conception ofintimacy for people who are experiencing difficulties intheir intimate relationships. This study focused on men whowere not in a clinical population. Information gained fromindividuals who consider themselves non-intimate may providecorroborating evidence for the findings of this study.Finally, a phenomenographic study of intimacy focussingon diverse populations might informative. Researchaddressing groups which vary in age, socio-economic and99educational backgrounds, cultural origins, and sexualorientation might expand our understanding of intimacy.SUMMARYThe purpose of this study was to investigate theconceptions of intimacy held by men in on-going heterosexualrelationships. Existing conceptions and theories ofintimacy have traditionally focused on behaviors isolatedfrom the context of the person. Furthermore, the principlesguiding existing theory have not been substantiated. Thisstudy attempted to present the concept of intimacy within anatural context. To this end, a phenomenographical approachwas employed to generate possible conceptions through thecollection of statements and experiences of intimacy.Eight men were gathered through a network of contactsto participate in semi-structured interviews. Statementsand experiences, which described their conceptions ofintimacy, were extracted from the interviews and validatedby independent reviewers. The data was analyzed andcategorized into dimensions and manifestations of intimacy.Six dimensions emerged from the statements andexperiences. Attunement, collaboration, distinctiveness,trust, empathy, and rootedness were found woven through thefabric of the conceptualizations of intimacy. Sharedexperience, acceptance/support, and specialness were threemanifestations or ways in which intimacy was experienced.100The manifestations provided a holistic context for theconcept of intimacy.Important aspects of intimacy were validated in thisstudy. 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(1986). The quest for intimacy.Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 12(4), 383-394.110APPENDIX A:LETTER OF CONSENTTitle: Conceptions of Intimacy: Men in RelationshipsResearcher: Grant Grobman (604) 270-3780The purpose of this project is to explore the conceptions ofintimacy held by men who are currently in relationships.This investigation will be done through the use of tapedinterviews. Statement and experiences of intimacy held bysubjects will be taped and transcribed. Significantinformation will be extracted and used to identifyconceptions of intimacy. All identifying information willbe altered to provide confidentiality of the subjects. Thetapes of the interviews will be destroyed.The time needed from each interview will be one and a halfto two hours. Approximately one to two hours may berequested for follow-up and debriefing of the interview.This project represents the masters thesis which is part ofthe requirements for the completion of the Masters of Artsdegree.This project is under the supervision of Larry Cochran, whois my graduate advisor in the department of CounsellingPsychology. He can be reached at 228-5259.If you have any questions regarding this projectplease contact the researcher.For any reason the subject may refuse to answer anyquestion, participate in any way or withdraw from thisproject at any time.The signature below signifies that the subject is consentingto participate in this research. The signature alsosignifies that the subject has received a copy of thisconsent form.I ^  consent to participate inthis research project.Date:111


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