“What does intimacy mean to you?” “Do You Know the True Meaning of Intimacy?” These are two questions that many people have trouble answering correctly.
Webster’s dictionary definition of “intimacy” generally refers to the feeling of being in a close personal and affectionate association and belonging together. It is a familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other… (Wiki)
You could define intimacy as the creation of a shared sacred space between individuals that is built upon mutual respect and care. The sharing of your individual experiences with another person, someone who listens and honors your experience is what intimacy is all about.
People who are intimate, and we’re not talking just about sex here, although that is part of physical intimacy, reveal vulnerabilities without fear that what they share will be used against them. Relying and believing on safety, respect, patience, mutuality, continuity, and not hiding any secrets from each other, true intimacy comes from having shared experiences in which you give and receive support to and from each other. What intimacy is can be equally founded upon sharing pleasure and adversity.
In looking at the big picture on what intimacy is, it as a journey rather than a tangible thing. Intimacy takes place over time, is ever-changing and always on the move. Any kind of stagnation kills a relationship intimacy.
The most important test of intimacy is to ask yourself the questions, “Is this relationship a safe haven where I feel loved and accepted for being me?” and “Do I trust the other person and do they trust me?” Without healthy self-disclosure at the right time, there can be no deep intimacy. In all relationships, but especially with intimacy in marriage, it takes honesty about who we are and how we feel. In a way, intimacy is love, for the more intimate you are, the safer you feel and the more worthwhile the relationship.
What is Intimacy | Different Forms of Intimacy
Intimacy can also take on many forms. One form of intimacy is two people exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas and enjoying similarities and differences between their opinions. If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, they become intimate in an intellectual area. This form of intimacy is defined as cognitive or intellectual intimacy.A second form of intimacy is emotional intimacy where two persons can comfortably share their feelings with each other, or when they empathize with the feelings of the other person, really trying to understand and trying to be aware of the other person’s emotional side.
A third form of intimacy is experiential intimacy where people get together to actively involve themselves with each other in mutual activities. This can range from a couple to a group of many people and doesn’t always involve talking or sharing, but may just include activities. An example would be a group of women working together on a school or hobby project.
A fourth form of intimacy is sexual or physical intimacy. This is the stereotypical definition of intimacy that the majority of us are familiar with. However, this form of intimacy includes a broad range of sensuous activity and is much more than just sexual intercourse. Creating intimacy is forming sensual expression with each other. As a result, what intimacy is to many people encompasses many things, at different times.
Today, the word intimacy has taken on sexual connotations. But it is much more than that. It includes all the different dimensions of our lives. Of course the most well-known of these is physical intimacy, but there’s also the social, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as well. In a nutshell, what intimacy is….total life sharing! And haven’t we all had the desire at one time or another for closeness, for oneness, for sharing our life with someone totally?
Becoming intimate includes:
- Making yourself vulnerable in a trusting, loving, secure relationship, by unmasking yourself.
- Sharing of tenderness, caring, and affection.
- Sharing of secrets, hidden feelings, and private thoughts
- Mutual respect, recognition, and approval of each other’s need to be a sexual being. In a marital relationship, this shared sexuality ultimately results in loving, sexual intercourse.
- Sense of closeness and proximity or oneness and unity
- Sense that you have a special, unique, and distinct bond joining you and another person.
- Sense of being in a non-punitive, non-abusive and non-manipulative environment.
- Free will offering and receiving of each other.
What is Intimacy | 10 Signs You Are On the Road to Intimacy
- You share continuous, honest communication and contact with each other. When you are not together, you are in contact by phone, email, or some other form.
- You have chosen one individual person as primary companion, even when you both have a wide selection of other individuals from which to choose from.
- You are more attracted and share a closeness to your partner to the exclusion of others.
- A mutual task to carry out is willingly shared, discussed, and enjoyed together.
- A sense of humor, fun, flirting, or sense of play and casualness develops in which you enjoy “giving and taking” and are relaxed in each other’s company.
- You share a sense of privacy and guardedness with your partner, secrets kept just between the two of you. It is not subjected to public scrutiny, criticism, or judgment.
- Your relationship is a productive enterprise, resulting in mutual satisfaction, reward, and reinforcement for each other.
- A sixth sense or other extra sensory facility develops with which you can communicate at a non-verbal level, with no need for words to clutter or detract from the communication.
- Your relationship has a purpose, a direction, and order to it, that is reasonable, realistic, and healthy for both of you.
- There’s a firm commitment, agreement, or contract with each other, to be mutually supportive, understanding, and accepting of one another.
What is Intimacy?…Intimacy Issues…and related questions. Everyone knows what they mean by intimacy, but what do you consider real intimacy. It is the making of intimate connection that seems to be what life is all about, but each of our human experiences with intimacy is different. That is what we will explore on this blog — the wide varieties of human intimacy. The Who, What, Why…and How! This is the place to express yourself, give your own opinion or tell us a story about an intimate experience in your life. By sharing your ideas about intimacy with others here, you can move human knowledge forward about this powerful experience. We welcome your comments. I hope and pray you will gain knowledge and love, and use it openly and frequently with your “partner” in creating and maintaining a strong and intimate relationship.
With much gratitude and love…