Intimate relationships are precious, and rarely easy. They almost certainly have ups and downs, they require maintenance, and effort, energy and work. Intimate relationships usually go through phases, and change over time. There is no reason to expect them to last, to be permanent, to be fixed or unchanging, even after a certain level or intensity has been reached. They can always change further, grow, become even deeper, change, decline, wither, die. When writing here about intimate relationships, I am thinking of spousal or partner relationships, intimate relationships involving friendship and sexuality, and intimate relationships between adults or adolescents not involving sex.
People need intimate relationships
People need intimate relationships, at least some intimate relationship for some of their lives. Human beings are born with an inbuilt or innate need or craving for closeness and intimacy, and usually suffer and hurt when they have too little or none of it.
Intimate relationships are generally plural
Intimate relationships can easily be more than one, and normally are. One major intimate relationship might be enough, but seems a bit thin. A typical (traditional and heterosexual) example would be a married person, who would have not only their spouse, but also one or two very close friends, and finally also “normally close” intimate relationships with parents and siblings, without the latter being dominant.
Intimate relationships are (almost) infinitely flexible. The only intimate relationships that are doubtful are ones that are too one-sided / asymmetrical, e.g. that are clearly exploitative, with major coercive elements, based on force, non-consensual violence, or a one-sided power differential.
What really happens in relationship?
Who can make a judgement about what really takes place in an intimate relationship? Counsellors, therapists, parents, sometimes judges, children, other friends, or lovers, can all be inclined and tempted to have an opinion, even a strong opinion. Ultimately it would be my view that no one outside an intimate relationship can see all of it, and be the final judge of what is going on. It may seem a good idea to try to be helpful, and to judge, evaluate, advise, but it is oh so dangerous.