Model15: Intimacy

  • Luciano L’Abate
  • Mario Cusinato
  • Eleonora Maino
  • Walter Colesso
  • Claudia Scilletta


The purpose of this chapter is to elaborate and expand on a model of intimacy defined as the sharing of joys and of hurt feelings and fears of being hurt. These feelings are the essence of our existence, as shown operationally by a list of related hurtful feelings in Fig. 17.1, as well as visually by a vertical, multilayered, and funnel-like model in Fig. 17.2 (L’Abate, 2009b in press). Being emotionally attuned and available means sharing concern, care, and compassion when hurts are present in oneself and in intimate others, that is, showing empathy in the “here and now” rather than in the past or the future (Feeney, 2004; Young, 2004). This process is found in functional relationships and is inadequate if not absent in dysfunctional ones. It takes a certain degree of functionality to share hurt feelings reciprocally with loved ones. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to share hurt feelings in severe incompetence. It takes functionality to admit to hurts and weaknesses, that is, one needs to feel “strong” enough to admit to being “weak.” In incompetence and severely incompetent relationships, individuals are not able to feel and to admit to feeling vulnerable to hurts and to share this vulnerability with loved ones, who in themselves are also unable and sometimes unwilling to share their vulnerability (L’Abate, 2009b, 2009c).


Cerebral Palsy Couple Relationship Work Satisfaction Adult Attachment Malformation Syndrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Benvenuti, F. (1980). Soddisfazione nel lavoro e intimità di coppia [Work satisfaction and couple intimacy]. Unpublished degree dissertation, University of Padua, Padua, Italy.Google Scholar
  2. Cusinato, M., Aceti, G., & L’Abate, L. (1997). Condivisione del dolore e di intimità di coppia [Sharing hurts in intimate couples]. Famiglia, Interdisciplinarietà, Ricerca, 2, 131–150.Google Scholar
  3. Cusinato, M., Colesso, W., & Barbon, M. (2006). Questionario di Attaccamento fra Adulti (QAA) [Adult Attachment Questionnaire, AAQ]. Famiglia, Interdiscipliarità, Ricerca, 3, 267–288.Google Scholar
  4. Cusinato, M., & L’Abate, L. (1995). A spiral model of intimacy. In S. M. Johnson & L. S. Greenberg (Eds.), The heart of the matter: Perspectives on emotion in marital therapy (pp. 108–123). New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  5. Doi, S., & Thelen, M. (1993). The Fear of Intimacy Scale: Replication and extension. Psychological Assessment, 5, 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Feeney, J. A. (2004). Hurt feelings in couple relationships: Toward integrative models of the negative effects of hurtful events. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 487–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Feeney, J. A. (2005). Hurt feelings in couple relationships: Exploring the role of attachment and perceptions of personal injury. Personal Relationships, 12, 3–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fincham, F. D. (2000). The kiss of porcupines: From attributing responsibility to forgiving. Personal Relationships, 7, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fincham, F. D., & Beach, S. R. H. (2002). Forgiveness in marriage: Implications for psychological aggression and constructive communication. Personal Relationships, 9, 239–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Friesen, M. D., Fletcher, G. J. O., & Overall, N. C. (2005). A dyadic assessment of forgiveness in intimate relationships. Personal Relationships, 12, 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frison, F. (1998). Gelosia romantica e attaccamento adulto [Romantic jealousy and adult attachment]. Non-published degree thesis, University of Padua, Padua.Google Scholar
  12. Guerney, B. (1977). Relationship enhancement: Skill training programs for therapy problem prevention and enrichment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. L’Abate, L. (2009a). A theory-derived structured interview for intimate relationships. The Family Psychologist, 25, 12–14.Google Scholar
  14. L’Abate, L. (2009b). Hurt feelings: The last taboo for researchers and clinicians? In A. L. Vangelisti (Ed.), Handbook of hurt feelings in close relationships. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. L’Abate, L. (2009c). Sourcebook of interactive exercises in mental health. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. L’Abate, L. (in press-a). A bibliography of secondary sources related to models of relational competence theory. In M. Capitelli, P. De Giacomo, L. L’Abate, & S. Longo (Eds.), Science, mind, and creativity. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. L’Abate, L. (in press-b). Hurt feelings: Theory, research, and applications in intimate relationships. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. L’Abate, L. (in press-c). Paradigms, theories, and models: Two hierarchical frameworks. In L. L’Abate, M. Capitelli, P. De Giacomo, & S. Longo (Eds.), Science, mind, and creativity: The Bari Symposium. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. L’Abate, L., & Cusinato, M. (2007). Linking theory with practice: Theory-derived interventions in prevention and psychotherapy. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 15, 318–327.Google Scholar
  20. Maino, E. (1998). Desiderabilità sociale e atteggiamento ottimista: Contributo alla costruzione di due scale in ambito coniugale [Social desirability and optimistic attitude: Contribution to the construction of two scales for couples]. Bollettino di Psicologia Applicata, 227(228), 65–76.Google Scholar
  21. Maino, E. (2004). Intimacy in couples: Evaluating a workbook. In L. L’Abate (Ed.), Using workbooks in mental health (pp. 265–280). Binghamton, NY: Haworth.Google Scholar
  22. Maino, E. (2005). La condivisione del dolore in coppie con un figlio disabile [Hurt sharing between parents with a handicapped child]. Saggi: Child Development and Disabilities, 31, 51–74.Google Scholar
  23. Parmigiani, G. (1983). Intimatà di coppia e soddisfazione nel lavoro [Couple intimacy and work satisfaction]. Unpublished degree dissertation, University of Padua, Padua.Google Scholar
  24. Raveani, R. (1991). Intimità coniugale nella percezione dei genitori (self-report) e dei figli giovani-adulti (observer-report) [Conjugal intimacy perceived by parents (self-reports) and their young-adult children (observer-reports)]. Unpublished degree dissertation, University of Padua, Padua.Google Scholar
  25. Rossi, A. E. (1991). Intimità coniugale: Definizioni, modelli teorici, operazionalità [Conjugal intimacy: Definitions, models, operationality]. Unpublished thesis, University of Padua, Padua.Google Scholar
  26. Salvo, R. (1998). La teoria dell’attaccamento nello studio delle relazioni di coppia [Attachment theory for studying couple relationships]. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Padua, Padua.Google Scholar
  27. Schaefer, M., & Olson, D. (1981). Assessing intimacy: The P.A.I.R. Inventory. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 7, 47–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (1992). Assessing commitment in personal relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 595–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stevens, F. E., & L’Abate, L. (1989). Validity and reliability of a theory-derived measure of intimacy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 17, 359–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vangelisti, A. (Ed.). (in press). Handbook of hurt feelings in close relationships. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Vangelisti, A., & Beck, G. (2007). Intimacy and fear of intimacy. In L. L’Abate (Ed.), Handbook of low-cost interventions to promote physical and mental health: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 395–414). New York: Springer Science.Google Scholar
  32. Waring, E. M. (1983). Scoring manual for WIQ. Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  33. Young, S. L. (2004). Factors that influence recipients’ appraisals of hurtful communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 291–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luciano L’Abate
    • 1
  • Mario Cusinato
    • 2
  • Eleonora Maino
    • 3
  • Walter Colesso
    • 2
  • Claudia Scilletta
    • 4
  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.University of PaduaPaduaItaly
  3. 3.Scientific Institute Eugenio MedeaBosisio PariniItaly
  4. 4.MilanoItaly

Personalised recommendations