plays an essential role in humans. As social creatures and at the root of our humanity, is the craving for close, personal and reciprocating relationships with others.
Intimacy usually refers to mutual openness, sharing, and vulnerability. Its lifespan can range from a single interaction to a long-term relationship of years or even decades.
It can exist in a variety of relationships spanning from close friendships to parent and child to family and even neighbors and co-workers.
But no other relationship contains the polarity of needs and interactions than that of our romantic relationships where intimacy also denotes sexual interactions because of the roles and expectations of these relationships.
Intimacy in a romantic pairing relationship is built over time.
At the beginning of a romance with hormones heightened and curiosity on overload (aka limerence which we will discuss later, so stay tuned), our attraction is high and we experience glimpses of intimacy.
New relationships might have moments of closeness, but the long-term intimacy that characterizes close personal relationships is a building process. Because as we get comfortable and let our guard down, more of our “parts” show up and so do those of our partners.
There is also a natural, healthy ebb and flow to intimacy — a relationship might be highly intimate or be lacking in intimacy without anything triggering the rise or the fall.
The problem becomes a problem when people judge the quality of their relationships based on the depth of intimacy and the degree to which they feel close to their partner, or how they perceive their partner being intimate with them.
Then, because of previously unresolved issues, they shutdown, avoid, or run and blame their partner or circumstances for the state of the relationship.
The truth is that….
Intimacy is about being intimate with ourselves… Into-Me-I-SEE.
To create and practice real intimacy is to practice seeing into myself, recognizing old and new wants and desires, letting go of what is not really me, and then (huge here) allowing the space for my partner to do the same without wronging or taking what is being shared personally.
The reasons why infidelity occurs are many, but the common thread I have found in every couple that has sat across me, perhaps not verbatim but some version of this – I did not know how to practice intimacy with myself, so to discover and reveal parts of myself to myself, I went elsewhere.
True intimacy requires trust and vulnerability… and this is frightening when we are not comfortable with parts of ourselves. We look to our partners to validate us, to make us feel accepted, to feel loved, and yet none of this matters if we cannot do it for ourselves.
Getting emotionally naked
The healthiest and most passionate of relationships naturally have moments of high and low intimacy. What keeps them going is that they know this and when the intimacy is low, there’s no blaming or avoiding what is happening.
Instead, they get emotionally naked.
They have the willingness to explore and then express deep sadness, hurt, fear, and love…oh, yes love!
And because they both get naked, there is no need to blame or avoid, because they recognize that when one of them disengages, it is not a sign that something is wrong, but that a new level of depth is ready to emerge.
And they seek moments where they can experience themselves differently.
Don’t get me wrong, many people struggle with intimacy, and the fear of intimacy is a common concern in therapy.
But sometimes, to allow ourselves a moment to have that spark of intimacy – to let ourselves be seen and while also having the willingness to see without intruding or pushing any agenda… so we can build from that in therapy, in quiet moments, and even in the loud ones. (A little positive psychology always helps.)
Because contrary to popular belief, the couple who never quarrels and seems like the perfect pair is not necessarily the couple who has the greatest intimacy.
It is the couple who expresses themselves and their differences, who engage in their struggles and challenges in a constructive, honest way, who may perhaps from the outside look contradicting or too different, but who can also find ways to express their love that are truly intimate.
Want to experience a moment… perhaps that spark?
Come join The Art of Love, Intimacy, & Attraction Evenings. An evening focused on the tending and nurturing of all your parts. Couples and Singles are invited to attend.
With all my love,