Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships

Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships

Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships

Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships

Synopsis

There is a mysterious connection between our experiences of intimacy--of love, the longing to feel connected, and sexual embrace--and the human sense of time--eternity, impermanence, and rhythm. In this critical analysis of the time-intimacy equation, Bennett shows how the scientific study of personal relationships can address this mystery. As a study of transpersonal science, this book points to the possible evolution of intimacy and of our consciousness of time, and how the two evolutionary paths weave together. Dr. Bennett draws from a wide array of resources to advance and marry two compelling themes: first, the social and clinical science of personal relationships should integrate the spiritual or transpersonal dimension of intimacy, and second, science can contribute to lay understandings by describing the richly temporal aspects of relationships. In blending popular literature, transpersonal psychology, and scientific research and theory, this work also attempts to address the lack of dialogue between academics who study personal intimacy and those writers in the popular press who give advice and guidelines for building intimacy. Time and Intimacy is written for a broad audience, intended for those with a general interest in relationships, as well as for students, counselors, and psychologists. It can be used as a text in courses on personal relationships, as well as to supplement courses in humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, interpersonal communication, relationships, marital and family counseling, human relations, and related areas. Because it advances an interdisciplinary understanding of personal relationships, this book is certain to challenge prevailing views about the meaning of intimacy in both the academic and popular literatures.

Excerpt

Since the 1970s, there has been a marked flourish of writing and research on the topics of personal relationships and intimacy. In addition to the thousands of magazine articles and popular books on love and intimacy, scientists have examined a broad array of phenomena, ranging from analysis of love and styles of romantic attachment to genetic influences on marital success. I believe that all this activity represents humanity's search for a new way of living in and understanding—a new model of—close relationships. Although our knowledge is growing, many research efforts are misguided and trivial. There is more to the study of intimacy than can be addressed by current scientific models (Berscheid & Reis, 1998). Both reductionistic and quantitative, these models fail to address both the deeper, spiritual aspects of intimate meaning and the importance of time, growth, and change that is woven into this meaning. These models suffer from several limitations. First, they do not address the future or the possible evolution of close relationships. Almost by definition, research focuses on data, identifying what is, “the given, ” and tries to discover probabilities, regularities, and laws. There is room for new models that explore the possibility that relationships can be more than what we imagine they could be (see Levine & Levine, 1996). Second, most research on relationships is based on an outdated or classical (Newtonian) conception of time that ignores the dynamic and complex nature of intimacy. Third, trying to mimic the methods of the physical sciences, the social science of personal relationships has nearly divorced itself from a wellspring of previous knowledge and wisdom about intimacy. Such wisdom lies in the humanities (poetry and literature), in philosophy, and in spiritual or religious texts. This book attempts to redress the scientific paradigm and catalyze a broader, transdisciplinary exploration of how human relationships engender and awaken intimacy and how time shapes this awakening. I hope it benefits anyone who is seeking new ways of understanding personal relationships of all types.

Because it deals with time, this book may also help those who wish to recapture the meaning of intimacy in a hurried world. In fact, recent social trends suggest that those of us who are the most starved for intimacy are also likely to be those most starved for time. As a society, we have been taught, and have bought the wholesale illusion, that time is scarce (Rechtschaffen, 1996). We have fallen into a consensual trance, fascinated by information and the “media”; that is, the digitized, video-graphic, telemediated, and virtual world. Gradually and without much notice, we have cultivated an insatiable hunger for as much information as possible in the shortest possible amount of time. A central point of this book is that such hunger belies a deeply thwarted need for intimacy. The fascination with media and the hunger or search for information is a direct externalization of a deeper, forgotten, soulful longing to feel connected.

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