315 Self Disclosing Intimacy

Based on research by Laurenceau, Jean-Philippe., Barrett, Lisa. F., & Pietromonaco, Paula. R. (1998). written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

What builds a strong relationship?

We can easily reveal facts about ourselves, but it is more difficult to share our thoughts and feelings about our experiences. Thus, if when we do, the other person shows they are listening and care, do we feel closer, more intimate?

Theorists Reis and Shaver’s model of intimacy suggests that self-disclosure and partner responsiveness equally impact our relationship’s level of intimacy. Social psychologists tested this theory in two studies. Over 2 weeks, 150 undergraduates recorded events and their reactions in a diary immediately after their social interactions. For each interaction, participants reported their self-disclosures, partner disclosures, perceived partner’s responsiveness, and rated on a 5-point scale the degree of intimacy experienced in the interactions.

When both the self and partner disclosed, the person felt more intimacy, especially if the partner listened and responded showing they understood, accepted and cared for them. Additionally, emotional self-disclosure (that is, talking about feelings) predicted intimacy more so than when sharing just personal facts about themselves.

Build more intimacy in your relationship. Tune in to your partner emotionally, share your feelings and experiences and respond to your partner’s needs.


Laurenceau, J., Barrett, L. F., & Pietromonaco, P. R. (1998). Intimacy as an Interpersonal Process” The Importance of Self-Disclosure, Partner Disclosure, and Perceived Partner Responsiveness in Interpersonal Exchanges. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology74(5), 1238-1251.

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