Intimacy often makes us think of sex. It is the normal pattern our brain takes after being taught over and over that the word intimacy is attached to or dependent upon intercourse. It is an easy leap as sex is one of the closest physical acts we can perform, but by defining this word by one act we are missing many other avenues of intimacy that are just as important in all of our relationships.
Especially now that we are stepping out of isolation and re-integrating normalcy into our lives, it is more important than ever to be aware of what we are bringing forward and what we are leaving behind. Our typical activities and ways of connecting were lost. For many, a sense of intimacy itself was lost. So how are we expected to maintain closeness when distance is built into the title of this time? How are we choosing to view and create intimacy in or lives?
Below are three main categories where we find the different variations of intimacy and suggestions for how to either create a new view of what closeness to others in your life means, or how to maintain the healthy balance of all your intimate relationships.
The Realms of Intimacy
Our first introductions to intimacy start with our families. Whether it is the love between a parent and a child, siblings – who in many ways are your first forms of friendships – or extended family that one sees a few times a year.
For biologically connected families, genetics allow a familiarity from visual associations.
For all families, living and surviving together bonds us. It also brings in our first chance to balance the space we hold for ourselves with the space we share with others.
Friendships can provide one of the most beautiful forms of intimacy.
It is one of our first times choosing the people we give our time to, with whom we share our stories, and how we want to be as an individual and in a group.
The intimacy of friendships is often lost because, once again, we associate intimacy with romantic partners over platonic partners. This is simply not the case. Friendships allow us to access a facet of closeness that is rooted first in the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual forms of intimacy rather than physical. It also provides an opportunity for love’s dynamic ability to shine. The pureness of a healthy friendship fosters an environment of safe-expression, compassion, and growth. It also fills our bucket for company as we were never built to survive alone.
Partners feels like the logical end here because this likely the most common idea of intimacy and the relationships we build up to from having family and friendships.
With partners we take intimacy to its fullest level. We share physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and experiential intimacy with our chosen others.
When in balance with partners, we are gifted the open exchange of who we are. We feel the ability to be our most authentic self with someone besides our self.
How to Balance Our Intimate Relationships
We get to experience how we can grow and prosper when we choose to do so with someone else. Only building our connection over time and deepening it every time we communicate. Each intimate relationship we hold is vital to our health – particularly our social health.
We crave the touch of those we love. We desire the contact of another human as social creatures. A difficult part during this time of physical distancing is that often, people are not within our reach. It is easy to fall into the traps of loneliness, anxiousness, and frustration over the idea that if we cannot physically be with others, then we are not connected to them.
However, we have seen countless demonstrations that this in fact is not true. We are close still, in some ways we are closer than before, becoming more creative with how we connect and taking extra time to do so. Families throwing birthday parties over Zoom. Weddings being postponed but still celebrated or sent over video to those unable to attend. Virtual graduations and cars lining up in driveways to remind people of their success. Work communities coming together like never before and enhancing communication to become more effective in a digital and physically separated way. And of course, our favorite, couples getting creative with pleasure items like Lioness smart-vibrators where you can control your partners toy from an app. We can all agree that sounds pretty epic…
Additionally, we were given an opportunity, and still have it, to deepen our relationship with ourselves. Whether we choose to seize this opportunity or not is up to us. So, if you don’t have that partner to control your vibrator or are not a partner that gets to control it, go give yourself attention! Date yourself, love yourself, touch yourself. It is important we do not forget our very first relationship – the one we keep with ourselves.
This balance of our own relationship and our relationship with others it key to accessing deeper intimacy and gaining more fulfillment of the relationships we choose to keep – or not keep. What relationships are we falling into and out of? Why? The beauty of what we are experiencing is the total breakdown of a conditioned experience. A deep-rooted pattern is being interrupted and with it we are being asked to reevaluate, reeducate, and redefine certain connotations.
Intimacy is dynamic. It holds the power and ability to range, spread itself through our lives, and root itself in many aspects that bring us joy. It can also feel overwhelming if we are fearful of the steps it takes to create these intimate bonds.
Be kind to yourself and hold compassion for others.
Be patient and start with easy steps like calling a friend, reaching out to family, or sharing an experience with your partner.
Practice honesty and openness wherever you can.
And remember, there is no one way to have intimacy in your life. Take advantage of re-entry and re-integration to create your new normal, your expanded version of intimacy.