What is intimacy? Formally, I suppose intimacy is the state of being intimate. But, I think the word intimacy means a lot of different things to different people. Often times, it is equated with sex. This correspondence is at least, incomplete. Yes, sex can be related to intimacy, but being intimate doesn’t necessarily imply or mean that sex is involved.
So, what is involved when we are intimate? Before I give my opinion on what’s involved, please understand that I am going to restrict this discussion of intimacy to relationships with humans. I realize that intimacy might involve a special animal pet. I have heard of people being intimate with art, automobiles, gardens, houses and even computers (sometimes, my wife accuses me of having an intimate relationship with the computer that I’m typing this post on:-) But, the intimacy discussed here will be the kind that involves relationships between humans.
Consider the following characteristics of being intimate
(1) Sharing most, if not all, of the “closets” of your life. I’m referring to the parts of your life that you only want those, who you are “close” with, to know about. (Notice how “closet” contains “close” :-)
(2) Helping each other to understand our individual meanings and feelings about our lives.
(3) Purposefully creating a climate for helping each other to make self-discoveries.
(4) Welcoming the expression of all feelings and experiences in a tolerant and gracious discussion.
(5) Giving yourself completely in self-revelation to those who are worthy and/or deserving.
(6) Letting go of our defenses and being seen by another for who we are. (Intimacy – into me you see)
I think all of the characteristics listed above are involved when we are intimate. The last one, which was summarized with, “Intimacy – into me you see” is perhaps the most important of the six listed. Letting go of our defenses and allowing another to really see us for who we are gets at the heart of being intimate. Think about times in your past when you have been intimate. You had to let go of your defenses or you couldn’t have satisfied any of the other characteristics. INTO ME YOU SEE!
I first read the expression into me you see on a blog post by Ed and Deb Shapiro. It’s a good statement that illustrates intimacy, but from only one, or possibly two, points of view. It cleverly points out that intimacy may involve only yourself or you may view intimacy as being intimate with someone else without them reciprocating. They, the Shapiros, also use a different statement, “Into me I see.” I suppose if we put the two together, “Into me you AND I see,” we might get closer to a short and cute statement that explains intimacy. On the other hand, isn’t intimacy a little too complicated to express in such a short and concise manner?
Although I elaborated on the last characteristic, I don’t mean to de-emphasize the other five. They are all important characteristics and aren’t meant to be the only ones. For example, intimacy can and should be expressed at times without using words. In other words, the use of body language is important when being intimate. Though that might be important, it isn’t necessarily a characteristic of intimacy. It is, though, a way of manifesting the six characteristics.
In order to be intimate, you need to allow yourself or another person into your soul, mind, body and heart. But, it’s important to realize that not all relationships need be, nor should be, intimate relationships. Many do not deserve your intimacy. Many are simply not worthy.
So, is there anyone you should have an intimate relationship with? Yes! I think you should have an intimate relationship with yourself. Think about it while using the six characteristics listed above. For example, don’t you want to know all of the parts of your life? Shouldn’t you purposefully create a climate for helping yourself make self-discoveries? And, isn’t it appropriate to give yourself completely in self-revelation to yourself? Or, why wouldn’t you let go of your defenses and allow yourself to be seen for who you are? In other words, aren’t the six characteristics of intimacy something that you should manifest.
In summary, intimacy in a relationship is a journey that requires each person to reveal her/himself to the other person(s) involved. Intimacy is a process of giving oneself completely in a self-revealing way. Intimacy doesn’t happen through resistance, but instead through “letting go.” Intimacy is never fake and never deceiving, but instead is openly truthful and honest.
What is intimacy? The state of being intimate and …
How about a comment, even if it isn’t intimate? :-)