Though we think of modern humans having the same capabilities as our prehistoric ancestors, with little
biological change, psychically we are evolving at a speedy clip! We might be tempted to say that something that doesn't depend on biology or technology– like intimacy– would be somewhat immune to changes over time. But I don't think that's true. I think we are daily cutting a brand new edge in the evolutionary story!
Take marriage, an institution with roots in the dark ages and before that simply gets passed on from one generation to the next without ever being really scrutinized. When I think about the intimacy my parents were able to achieve when they got together in the 50's it must have felt as deep and worthy as that we can feel today. But the fact is that in their world, although they could both value each other fully as human beings, because the marriage was still partly an economic arrangement, they didn't live in a culture that supported the kind of relating that we are capable of. So no matter how close they became personally, there is a way that their cultural context limited their intimacy.
In our generation, with the social changes brought by civil rights and feminism, the social world is more open (cognoscente of universal equality) and thus supports personal intimacy in a deeper way. (For instance now that women are more equal socially she is not economically dependent on him). This allows for a deeper intimacy. In fact, this is a depth of intimacy never before available in human history!!
Just as a landscape becomes the context for the body life, which is in turn limited by it, the social context calls forth the individual life. As human rights around the world becomes more universally respected and more minorities are allowed to inhabit their dignity in social space, the gift of a capacity for greater, deeper personal intimacy becomes available to all of us!