The hope for intimacy lies deep within us all. That moment of feeling uniquely understood, the antidote to isolation, is what gives us value, validation and self-belief. But as Ziyad Marar shows in this fascinating and engaging study, intimacy is a tricky business. The prevalence of social media, for example, is a sign of our desire for human connection, yet is a symptom of how little we truly achieve it.
Often confused with love, intimacy is in many ways more important. Marar's investigation and celebration of this elusive but profound human experience shows how intimacy is central to a life well lived. But how do we spot the real thing? Marar helpfully identifies a key set of ingredients - reciprocity, conspiracy, heightened emotion, kindness - that when brought together enable the strongest experiences of intimacy. Without these four characteristics in the mix we are experiencing something less, or something else.
Drawing on a wide range of sources - from key thinkers, as well as telling examples from familiar films and novels - Marar illustrates the subtlety and intricacies of intimacy and shows how closely it is bound up with notions of trust, control, risk and our own insecurities.
Intimacy, argues Marar, is a necessary component of a fulfilled life. Yet we should not take for granted that we know what it is and how to get it. A better understanding of this powerful experience and the many barriers to achieving it may just help us to brave the search for it. For anyone bold enough to do so, which should be all of us, Intimacy is required reading.
Ziyad Marar has a BSc and MA in psychology and philosophy, and is Global Publishing Director of the academic and professional publisher, SAGE. His previous books include The Happiness Paradox and Deception.
1. Only Connect 2. Translating Intimacy 3. The Kiss Part 1: Intimacy Through Four Lenses 4. It Takes Two 5. A Conspiracy 6. Unruly Emotion 7. A Complicated Kindness Part 2: Barriers to Intimacy 8. Insecurities 9. Solipsism and Imaginative Failures 10. Wishful Thinking 11. Cultures and Contexts Part 3: Finding Intimacy 12. Learning from Literature 13. In Good Faith. Index