Intimacy? What Intimacy?
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Intimacy is in crisis. Our most intimate connections with other humans are going away. Though technology and social media tell us they are the answer to communicating more efficiently with others and greater connectedness to them, we do so in isolated spaces, dark rooms, away from the rest of the world. We wait, sometimes in vain, for affirmation of our posts, texts and e-mails. We waste our time, get our hopes up and are disappointed. We are left feeling empty, alone and dejected. This is NOT intimacy. Intimacy is intentional and reciprocal connection with another human, and it is felt immediately. This is feedback that cannot be fully felt using social media or apps.
For most of my clients, the word "intimacy" is code for sex. But sexual/sensual intimacy is just one sphere. The other spheres of intimacy are intellectual, experiential, emotional and physical. Intellectual intimacy is a two-way connection with others whom we find to be interesting. In addition, the other is connected to our thoughts and ideas. It is academic, spiritual, cerebral, and it makes us feel great. Experiential intimacy is the result of shared experiences which draw us closer together. Closeness with others who have also shared in the military or volunteer for the same organizations are good examples of experiential intimacy. In healthy family systems, we also share experiential intimacy with our parents, partners, children and/or siblings. Emotional intimacy refers to a relationship with mutual sharing authentic feelings. To share our feelings with others, and to feel they are holding and affirming our feelings is wonderful. Physical intimacy is an enjoyable hug, hand hold, touch on our shoulder or back rub with another that is not sexual in nature. When we are physically intimate with others we are comfortable with them inside our orb of personal space. Sexual/Sensual intimacy is giving and receiving sexual pleasure with another. It requires knowing how another likes to receive touch and intentionally touching them in that way that results in sexual arousal.
The spheres of intimacy may be linked to others, or may exist independently. As the spheres of intimacy overlap and intertwine, we feel a more completely connected to another. Intellectual intimacy can lead to shared experience and then touch and then sexual connectedness. Some of us require it to be so to experience highest levels of pleasure. Our partners' understanding and acceptance of our whole self deepens and intensifies our pleasure in the sphere of sexual intimacy. These connections lead us to an erotic connection, which further deepens intimacy. (More on the erotic later!) As sexual performance wanes in later life, relationships are sustained by the richness of the other spheres of intimacy shared between partners.
Intimacy is complicated, and so simple. The fewer "walls" or secrets between people, the deeper the intimacy. When we can be our authentic selves around others, we live life without pretense. The connections we have with our most intimate partners are strong and secure. Connections we make via electronics will never be able to replace the power of touching another or hearing their voice or looking into their eyes...it just won't. When we are left with no other option but to use our phone, tablet or laptop, we must know that it is just to maintain the thinnest of intimacy while another is away from us. The deepest connection will be made when our intimate partner is physically close.
These are the connections I hope to help you build with those around you...real...deep...solid. When you are a Present Dude, you will know and be comfortable with yourself. You will understand how you arrived in this place in your life. You will be open to change, be able to envision the change you would like to see in your life and then set out to make it happen. Our feelings are only chemical reactions in our brains based on the memories of our bodies. We cannot change the past, but we do have the power to change this moment...the one we are in. Remember....five minutes ago is gone, five minutes from now hasn't happened. All we have is the moment we are in. Go live in it.