Self-disclosure and how building a friendship is vital to

Self-disclosure comes in all forms, and at different times in a
relationship. People also pick and choose, whether its conscious or not, who
they want to disclose to and about what. Those can be different for everyone.

It is common that girls are more open about things with their mom than they are
with their dads. Of course, all of this information is general and every
situation is different but for the
most part, girls gravitate to their moms and boys gravitate to their dads. In the article, What Is Highly Personal Information and How Is It Related to Self-Disclosure
Decision-Making? The
Perspective of College Students, a study was conducted at Old
Dominion University and it found, “People
seem to selectively choose to whom to disclose about specific topics, which in
part may reflect a judgment about the expected response from a prospective disclosure target
(Greene & Faulkner, 2002) as well as rules governing appropriateness of
disclosure to various targets (Petronio, 2002).”

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This study was conducted on college
students to see what they classified as “personal information” and to whom they
disclose such information. Because college students are more likely to seek the
approval of peers and friends more, it was found that females are more likely
to disclose with same-sex friends and romantic partners. Thus, females are more
likely than men to disclose about many things to their partner.  

Self-Disclosing and Intimacy in Friendships and Romantic
Relationships

But what are the benefits of self-disclosure and how can
that deepen connections in any relationship; romantic or platonic? In the
article “Getting Close”, it talks about how self-disclosure can heighten intimacy
in a relationship and how building a friendship is vital to a healthy romantic
relationship. To start, “Intimacy begins when a person shares something
emotionally meaningful with someone else. Risk is at the heart of the matter.

The person is taking a chance on a hunch that the listener could be trustworthy
but there’s always the possibility the emotional import will be missed,
ignored, unreciprocated.”

As one new groom recently told a New York Times wedding
reporter, being friends first with his bride allowed him “to be more vulnerable
in conversation than if I had approached her in a romantic way.” In this New
York Times article, a couple, Jasmine and Anthony, met on vacation and found
out they were neighbors in Brooklynn. They started as friends and built on that
relationship and self-disclosed until they realized they wanted to have a
romantic intimate relationship.

“The process of opening to
another, of self-revelation, takes patience as well as bravery, and the
unhurried pace is a necessity for the creation of trust. Friendships hold just
as much capacity for intimacy as romantic relationships. It’s why people who
often start out as friends wind up as lovers and why lovers seek friends to
confide in when romance falters.”

In general, we
expect more intimacy from a partner than we do our friends because we often
view “intimacy” as a sexual and romantic connection but it is very often found
in friendships. But intimacy threads through both romantic and platonic
relationships through “shared secrets, caring touch, moments of laughter and
tears, knowing silences.” Studies have shown that some of the best relationships
start with being friends and building a closeness through that. When building a
relationship with anyone, we seek comfort and reciprocity because we crave
closeness and want to know the deep dark secrets about someone else, and in
most cases, it is the best way to build a relationship.

Intimacy is not
just in romantic relationship, but does gender play a role in how much we
self-disclose and the level of intimacy shared? We naturally think that women
are closer in relationships and in friendships and are more open to the idea of
having an “intimate” friendship. But for many men, they bond or spend time
together while doing things like watching/playing sports, “checking out” women,
and doing “manly” activities. They rarely sit down and talk about their
feelings and what is on their mind. It seems to be taboo to have a really close
friendship with another guy, let alone call it an intimate relationship. To be
honest, guys are missing out when it comes to friendships because they want to
keep their masculinity intact. “The reason for this is men are more afraid of
rejection or being vulnerable.” Beverley Fehr, a professor of psychology at the
University of Winnipeg and the author of Friendship
Processes. What stops them from engaging more often in self-disclosure with
other men, she says, is fear of rejection. “Sharing makes men feel too vulnerable,
perhaps because it conflicts with another value men hold-competitiveness.”

I would also say
this is true because society has over sexualized the term intimate. Whenever it
is heard, we have been trained to automatically think it is sexual and it involves
intercourse or anything sex related. Therefore, men do not want to have an
intimate relationship and do not want to be seen as feminine or “soft”. It is
unfortunate that many men cannot get out of their own egos and realize that
having an intimate friendship with another man is not the worst thing; it would
probably do more men some good.