What is intimacy? Is it the act of being physical with a person, or is it more emotional? Sure, often sex is a sign of an intimate relationship. But hook-up culture shows how couples can be solely physical without creating feelings of intimacy. It’s sex raw and unadulterated without the complications of emotions or expectations.
Intimacy occurs when people feel fully understood by another person. It isn’t able to spontaneously occur. It also can’t arise if only one person is putting effort into a relationship. Instead, intimacy evolves slowly over time when both parties are mindful to learn and explore each other’s essence. It requires patience and sincere effort to process information, forgive missteps and above all, learn about and radically accept each other.
Intimacy is a treasured goal for most couples. It requires both partners to be brave by being vulnerable with their “truths” and emotions. It can require working through many levels of fear, doubt and even shame. With time, trust develops and intimacy matures and ripens like a fine wine.
Aspects of Intimacy:
Knowledge: The sincerest form of intimacy allows both partners to feel profoundly seen by the other at a near spiritual level. A couple is able to delve so deeply they see each other beyond any mask or barrier, and what they experience has such value and tenderness it transcends any superficial differences that may exist between them.
Acceptance: There is peace in known neither member of the union feels compelled to alter themselves or their values for the other. They understand that compromises must be made at simpler levels to ensure a healthy relationship or living situations. By the most fundamental aspects of each other are honored and welcomed.
Differences are Valued: No one wants to be in a relationship with a clone of themselves. By learning and understand their partner’s unique gifts an individual is able to grow as a person and broaden their sense of the world around them.
Safety: Intimacy can only occur when a couple feels like they can trust the each other with their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Both feel like there is ample support during times of hardship, and celebration during bountiful times. There are clear rules established and honored for appropriate behavior within and away from the relationship.
Teamwork: When an issue arises, an intimate couple can understand the situation and create a game plan for success based on love, compassion and shared effort. They are able to understand what it takes to be a healthy individual so that they can be a more supportive partner and sustain a healthy union.
Lasting bond: Intimacy is nurtured when people remain emotionally connect and invested in the other. During the difficult moments, no one feels like they have to walk on eggshells or withhold their feelings for the sake of the relationship.
Be Choosey: To create an intimate relationship you must be selective with your choice of partner. Only become serious with a person that allows you to be yourself and honor your core values. A loving partner should never regularly accuse, blame or shames you. They should also promote your external relationships with friends and family.
Have a Slow Reveal: Much like physical connection, emotional intimacy is best when it evolves gradually. It should take time for you both to feel comfortable enough to show each other the good, the bad, the exciting and the boring aspects of yourselves. As you build a sense of trust, share your core beliefs, values and aspirations. Pay attention to each other’s reactions. Be careful about conflicting expectations as this often is a recipe for heartache. Should one or more arise, be willing to have honest conversations to see if you can establishment a mutually fair compromise or if anything is a deal breaker.
Set Boundaries: True intimacy dictates that your relationship is unique and paramount to your relationships with anyone else. You can set limitations on sexual explorations or in other ways of showing fidelity. Both of you must agree to the rules and expectations to preserve the sanctity of your union.
Be Emotionally Aware: Emotions shouldn’t be judged, but it is ok to have expectations on how they are expressed. How you both may act can either strengthen or erode intimacy. It is natural and expect that couples feel anger, disappointment or frustration periodically. An intimate couple has learned tools to share those difficult feelings without causing undue harm on the other. They work together to ease the tension and investigate the root of the issue to create meaningful steps to solve the problem.
Embrace Conflict: Although it might seem weird at first, having the ability to embrace conflict is healthy. Conflicts serve as valuable lessons about issues well below the surface of a relationships. When ignored even simple prickles can cause lingering toxicity in any dynamic. When a conflict arises, this is an opportunity to solved little understood hurts or frustrations. Intimacy demands a couple face the issue together bravely and understand that ensuring a healthy relationship and strong partner is more important than any momentary crisis.
Lead by Example: To expect your partner to be tolerant, empathetic, loving, faithful, honest and generous, you must first model those behaviors. Intimacy requires we put forth the very best effort for our partner. No one expects perfection, but be open to feedback and maintain a willingness to both learn and grow.