Intimate Friendships

This is not quite a book review, just a passing note and bloggy check-in.

I came across the book, Intimate Friendships by James Ramey, via the Ethical Slut book. It’s a lot harder to find than the Ethical Slut but I was able to track it down to where you can borrow it for free.

Being from the mid-seventies, it doesn’t feature much of the CNM lexicon. Being from the USA, it does tend to use marriage as an origin point. That aside, human nature is largely universal and evergreen and it does yield a good number of insights. I snapshotted a few, working around the awkward image PDF.

Its publication closely follows a wave of sexual equality legislation which allows it to suggest that an individual is a unit of society, able to do everything that a family can. When women control conception and demand equal pay then they don’t need to fall back into a family unit.

Humans need other humans, however, and the book examines relationship models beyond the traditional marriage/adultery one. It uses the term ‘Intimate Friendship’ for a deep, non-monogamous connection. A network of these is logically an ‘Intimate Network’. Whilst suggesting that sex is often an accelerant to intimacy, it makes it clear that it is not obligatory – contrasting with a naive Free Love ideology, which is open to abuse. The relationship is the central focus, supported by connections of whatever flavour: emotional, intellectual, philosophical, sexual, etc.

Established Intimacy Networks naturally crystallise into complex living groups with interesting implications. That’s bad news for the sale of consumer goods but good for mothers of young children who need support and adult time.

Intimacy networks, it is reported, grow organically among the bohemian, upper-middle class and can have quite a geographic reach. I’m wondering how the advent of relatively cheap travel, digital communication, and remote working shape whatever is the successor to these.

Models which have a primary relationship alongside a set of other less constant relationships seem to be the norm. Personally, I’ve been looking for a descriptive phrase which fits better than the modern FWB or traditional Lover. Perhaps Intimate Friend is it.

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