Getting Intimate with Intimacy
Let’s get intimate with intimacy today. This is one of my favorite relationship topics to explore with men and women. We have so many ideas about what intimacy means and how much of it we do or don’t want of it in our lives. Sometimes we think we want it or we even seem to crave it and some part of us, usually unconsciously, simultaneously pushes it away.
So what does intimacy mean? Over the years I’ve heard many definitions and some of them have deeply resonated with me while others seemed to fall short. The simple definition of intimacy I use is… I am intimate with you when I reveal a part of myself that I wouldn’t ordinarily reveal to the average person on the street. With that being said, intimacy can happen on many different levels. It can happen physically, emotionally, even spiritually. And, here’s the piece that I think catches most people: it doesn’t require two people to be intimate! Intimacy only requires one person to be intimate and another to witness it. Intimacy does not require the other person to be intimate with you in order for both of you to have experienced intimacy. We may desire that and it is not required.
Have you ever witnessed someone share something from deep within their heart or had someone share a secret dream with you or a long time hurt? These are such powerful moments. I know I’m about to experience great intimacy with someone when they say, “I’ve never said this before.” Or “I’ve never told anyone this.” Wow. What a blessing!
Here’s another common explanation of intimacy that always serves as a simple reminder for me. Intimacy means in-2-me-u-c or in-to-me-you-see… I let you see into me. It also means in-to-me-I-see because I must look inside myself to find my true thoughts and feelings before I can authentically share them with you and really let you see me. If I let you see inside me, we have experienced intimacy. Intimacy can be shared by close friends, lovers, and even complete strangers and it can absolutely happen with our clothes on!
A common myth about intimacy arises when we believe we don’t have control over it. We do. We are in full control of whether we experience intimacy as it is inherently defined by our choice to let someone else in, to let them see us. Some of us think it requires another person to open up before we can open up. It’s simply not true. When we open up and share ourselves then we have intimacy. Years ago I used to complain that men in my life just weren’t being intimate… It was me who wasn’t being intimate! I wasn’t sharing myself and I was asking them to do what I wasn’t willing to do first.
How intimate are you willing to be?
Before I close for today let’s look at one more perspective on intimacy that I love. In reading the book, Passionate Marriage by Dr. David Schnarch, I found his definition of intimacy intriguing…
Intimacy = Exposure
This is exactly what I’ve been describing here…when we reveal or expose ourselves we are intimate.
Then another wonderful spiritual teacher of mine describes spiritual freedom like this:
Freedom = Exposure
So by simple mathematics (who would have thought about math in a conscious relating article!), if intimacy = exposure and freedom = exposure then by definition…
Intimacy = Freedom
So, I will experience spiritual freedom when I am fully intimate with everyone I meet. Or in other words, if I stop hiding, stop pretending and authentically share myself, I can be nothing other than free. Whew! I love freedom! This is my deepest prayer.
If you’ve been seeking freedom in your life, try giving intimacy a chance!
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.