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Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships

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  • Page extent: 205 pages
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Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships
Cambridge University Press
9781107041325 - Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships - By Paul C. Rosenblatt and Elizabeth Wieling
Frontmatter/Prelims

Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships

In the extensive literature on couples and intimacy, little has been written about knowing and not knowing as people experience and understand them. Based on intensive interviews with 37 adults, this book shows that knowing and not knowing are central to couple relationships. They are entangled in love, sexual attraction, trust, commitment, caring, empathy, decision-making, conflict, and many other aspects of couple life. Often, the entanglement is paradoxical. For example, many interviewees revealed that they hungered to be known and yet kept secrets from their partner. Many described working hard at knowing their partner well, and yet there were also things about their partner and their partner's past that they wanted not to know. This book's qualitative, phenomenological approach builds on, and adds to the largely quantitative social psychological, communications and family field literature to offer a new and accessible insight into the experience of intimacy.

Paul C. Rosenblatt is Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

Elizabeth Wieling is Associate Professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota.


Knowing and Not Knowing in Intimate Relationships

Paul C. Rosenblatt and Elizabeth Wieling


University Printing House, Cambridge cb2 8bs, United Kingdom

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.

It furthers the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107041325

Paul C. Rosenblatt and Elizabeth Wieling 2013

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published2013

Printed in the United Kingdom by CPI Group Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Rosenblatt, Paul C.
Knowing and not knowing in intimate relationships / Paul C. Rosenblatt and Elizabeth Wieling.
pagescm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-107-04132-5 (hardback)
1. Intimacy (Psychology)2. Interpersonal relations.3. Couples -- Psychology.I. Wieling, Elizabeth.II. Title.
BF575.I5R6462013
158.2′4 – dc232013013108

ISBN 978-1-107-04132-5 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Contents

Acknowledgments
viii
1       Knowing and not knowing are central to intimacy
1
What are knowing and not knowing in intimate relationships?
2
Why intimate knowing and not knowing are so important
6
Knowing the other well does not guarantee an easy relationship
9
Trust as foundation for knowing
9
The cultural context of this work
12
How we did the research
14
2       How couples build knowledge of one another
29
Trying to know the other
29
Getting to know one another at the start of the relationship
30
Practical reasons for knowing and being known in ongoing couples
39
Knowing and being known as intimacy
42
Curiosity, being nosy, prying, snooping
43
Wanting to be known
46
Truth as a value
48
Spending considerable time together
50
Confrontation
51
Being able to see behind the façade
52
Feeling safe
53
Good listening
54
Getting to higher levels of knowing and being known
55
Conclusion
57
3       How well do you know each other? about 90%
58
Not much is held back
58
The 10% that is not known
59
Experts on each other
61
Doubts and limits in knowing
63
How do you know how well you know the other?
67
Conclusion
73
4       Concerns about the other's potential reaction to something not yet revealed
74
Concerns when the relationship is relatively new
76
Concerns with partner knowing about one's past relationships
77
Concerns about money
81
Concerns about the other's reactions to one's health issues
82
Concerns about disagreeing
83
Concerns about the other's reactions to one's failures
84
Concerns about the other's reaction to one's emotional pain
85
Concerns about hurting the partner's feelings
88
Concerns about the partner having contact with one's family
89
Concerns about causing family (not just couple) conflict
90
Overcoming concerns about the partner knowing something
90
Making sense of people's concerns about disclosing to a partner
91
5       What people cannot or would rather not know
93
There is too much to know
93
Curiosity limits
94
Inability to grasp partner realities
96
Not always wanting to know the truth
100
Information exchange when a relationship is not doing well
102
Conclusion
104
6       Processes in being a judicious nondiscloser
106
“Need to know” decision process
106
Selectivity processes
110
Following cultural rules about what to tell and not tell
115
Summary
117
7       Discovery of lies and secrets
118
Discovery processes
119
After discovery of a big secret or lie, then what?
123
Big lies and secrets that are not discovered may also have costs
127
Good lies and secrets
128
Is the truth as clear as it seems in many of the interviews?
131
8       Gender differences in intimate knowing
133
Women conceptualizing men
133
The intimacy dance
139
Do women know men better than men know women or themselves?
141
He's okay
143
Making sense of the apparent gender differences
146
9       Family of origin
152
Openness versus closedness in family of origin
153
But it's not that simple
156
Family of origin abuse may show up in the couple relationship
158
Conclusion
160
10      Is it good to know and be known extremely well?
161
Sometimes knowing and being known too well might be a problem
161
Often knowing and being known well seems valuable
165
Interviewees generally vote for knowing and being known well
170
For people who want advice about their own intimate relationship
171
11      Phenomenology of knowing and not knowing, being known and not known
173
What a phenomenological approach adds
173
Essence of lived experience concerning knowing and not knowing
173
Nature of knowing and not knowing, being known and not known
176
Knowing, not knowing, and relationship quality
179
A systems view of knowing and not knowing
179
Knowing, not knowing, and relationship survival
181
Knowing and not knowing are linked to other aspects of intimacy
183
Knowing, not knowing, and culture
183
Appendix – Interview guide
185
References
189
Index
196

Acknowledgments

During our work on this project many people provided stimulating anecdotes, theoretical perspectives, suggestions about related scholarly literature, interest, and encouragement. In fact there were so many people who did that that we hesitate to list those who we can remember, because we know there are others equally deserving of acknowledgment who we cannot remember. However, we do want to give a special thanks to Peter Rober for stimulating and helpful comments. We also want to thank four people who at the time were students and who volunteered to transcribe some of our interviews, Linda Freeman, Erica Kanewischer, Samantha Zaid, and Stacey Lillebo. Most of all we thank the 37 study participants who shared many of their most intimate thoughts and experiences with us.




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