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Intimacy requires commitment

Here's a sad thing. According to a sociological study*, intimacy in friendships has declined by 50% in the last generation. 25 years ago, on average, people had three close friends, now they have just two. This fact is paralleled by studies showing a decline in commitment** and in empathy***…
By Seth Barnes

Here's a sad thing. According to a sociological study*, intimacy in friendships has declined by 50% in the last generation. 25 years ago, on average, people had three close friends, now they have just two.

This fact is paralleled by studies showing a decline in commitment** and in empathy*** in young people.

But do these two findings correlate? Do you need to commit to a person to grow in initimacy? In a culture where everything seems optional, it's a question worth asking. We know that young people are waiting longer to commit to marriage. The average age of a groom is now 27. We know that they struggle committing to jobs. Does a struggle to make commitments impact intimacy in relationships?

Well, what do you think Jesus would say?

He said some things emphasizing the cost of commitment like, "If you love Me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15) and, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)

And to establish the connection between commitment and affections he said things like, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34)

Psychologists have long established a connection between how we spend our time and what we're interested in, what we love. Our own experience tells us that we bond with people by spending time with them.

We long for intimacy but struggle with commitment. Perhaps one way to develop more intimate relationships is to begin practicing making and keeping commitments. If you're a man or a woman of commitment, it's likely that you'll have the kind of intimate friendships that we all long for.

*The 2006 study published in American Sociological Review found that people in the U.S. had fewer friends than they'd had 20 years prior. In 1985, the average American claimed to have three close confidants, but by 2004, the average American had only two close confidants. One in four people reported having no one to talk to at all.

**Jean Twenge 40-year study shows a decline in trust and commitment in young people.

***Empathy has declined by 40% according to this study.

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