Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Morton Wagenfeld

Second Advisor

Dr. David Chaplin

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


To define intimacy, interpersonal relationships are divided into four major categories that encompass the whole range of interpersonal behavior: strangers, acquaintances, friends, and intimates. These are seen as progressive stages, defined by the individual's subjective, affective orientation, and discernable by behavioral indicators. Strangers are divided into total, encountered, and familiar strangers, acquaintances into mere and friendly acquaintances, and friends into Just friends, casual friends, and close friends. The process culminates in intimacy which is divided into three aspects: psychological, the necessary aspect, biological, and ideological. Total intimacy is the presence of all three. This framework has explanatory and predictive value, and is therefore seen as a sociological theory of the middle range or a grounded formal theory, with implications for mental health. It is supported by numerous empirical findings of sociological, psychological, and anthropological research, and by theoretical elaborations of several prominent sociological theorists.

Included in

Sociology Commons