When I ask individuals or couples to define intimacy, they often associate intimacy with some form of sex. Sex can be intimate, but intimacy does not have to be sexual, romantic or even involve physical affection.
Intimacy requires at least two people because intimacy means sharing with another “.” It can involve a partner, parent, co-worker, friend, even a pet! It can take different forms, depending on the type of relationship.
Intimacy is an act of sharing the innermost part of your being. Intimacy can be shared in a healthy way when the relationship that supports it includes mutual acceptance, commitment, tenderness and trust.
You may seek intimacy in your relationships but struggle to find, share and feel true intimacy with others. Will you ask yourself, “Why do I still feel lonely even when I’m with someone?”
The answer may have to do with risk. One of the basic components of intimacy is the desire to allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you fear vulnerability, then you fear intimacy even though you may long for it.
Intimate sharing means self-disclosure. You may want to tell your partner something about yourself that is private. An example might be a story about how you are big brother repeatedly made fun of your weight when you were little and how this affects you now. You can no longer undress in front of someone because you are ashamed of your body and you will be mocked.
The risk is that you do not know if your partner is ready to hear what you have to share and that you do not know how your partner would react. Would your partner brush it off, think you “just let it go”, or would your partner feel sorry for you?
This risk of insecurity can prevent you from establishing honest relationships with your partner, parents or friends. Instead of revealing yourself, you walk around with an “everything’s okay” mask.
Saying how you really feel about something is another act of intimacy. How many times do you hold back what you can really have to say to someone? Maybe you feel lonely when your partner is sitting in front of the TV all night. Do you dare to say this? Maybe you feel loved when your partner surprises you with cooking dinner. Do you share it with him / her?
Whether you choose to share your anger, disappointment and hurt, or love, commitment and joy, every time you share your truth with someone, you bring intimacy into your life.
When you let others in, to experience yourself in who you really are, you establish true intimacy. When you give yourself permission to do this, you may find that you feel full instead of empty, connected instead of alone.
You may also find that when you truly share yourself with others, it allows others to reveal themselves to you. From this, your relationships will feel richer and more rewarding!