That word is used a lot on television and in the movies. Maybe it is just me but I believe that the word intimacy has lost its meaning. Now, mainly used as a euphemism for sex, intimacy seems to be sought after for all the wrong reasons and from all the wrong people.
Some of us have looked for intimacy too quickly from paramours or friends that ended up stabbing us in the back or pushing us away. Some of us are desperate for intimacy yet remain guarded, uneasy at the thought of someone else knowing something so deeply personal about us. Intimacy is a terrifying and awesome thing. But it is also something beautiful that, in the right context and with the right people, can help us to be more ourselves than ever before. It can also encourage us to be more brave with showing the rest of the world just a bit more about what makes us unique.
Different Types of Intimacy
So now I want to go through the different types of intimacy that I have personally experienced (don’t worry, it will not be graphic! I am not that kind of writer) because I want to reclaim the word intimacy from its sexy connotation and bring it back to a meaning that I hold very dear. To me, intimacy is letting someone else know and enjoy your bare soul and doing the same for them in return. It does not have to be romantic and often is not. It just needs to be a deep and trusting connection with one another.
To open, I am going to start with the first person who I feel ever really knew me or saw me exactly for who and what I was. My twin sister. A lot of you have siblings, you may even be freakishly close to them, but there is nothing like the bond of twin sisters. Up until the age of 16, she had literally been through the same life as me, with me. She had front row seats to watching me become a person and knew all my secrets. We have experienced beautiful and horrible things together. There is something so wonderful about looking at the other person in any situation and being so intimately connected that you can just be. Unfortunately, we have had some very hard times together. I recall one time, being so disheartened for so long that we exchanged only silent looks across the living room. In that moment, neither of us were alone and we knew that someone else on the planet felt exactly as we did.
The second kind of intimacy I have been blessed with is from friends. While I do have a few very close long term friendships, they ebb and flow as all relationships and so I have felt intimacy with all of them at different times. My favorite type of friendship intimacy is the no makeup, ‘hey I have a crazy idea’, ‘we don’t need to say anything’ to be comfortable kind of intimacy. Some of my friendships have all of these as a standard which I love. Whenever I am having a tough time, I can go to them and feel like myself again. And these people have known me when I was ultra conservative, when I was dying my hair a different color every month, when I literally had 5 cents in my bank account and when I was rejected from various under grad and graduate programs. They have seen me deal (badly) with a break up and seen me fall in love. Now I am going to go out on a limb here with a potentially controversial claim. Here goes:
I believe friendship intimacy is more important than romantic intimacy. Here is why: friendship intimacy will come from outside of your romantic relationship and will keep you as an entire person in mind. It can come from multiple people and really help you to unload with people you trust and to remember who you are and how other people you trust see you.
That brings me to romantic intimacy. This is very important. The person you are with should be able to love you when your guard is down and your brave face comes off and you are completely and only you. There should be an attraction to that and also an understanding. That being said, we are not perfect. If you are thinking “well he doesn’t act that way!” trust me you are not alone. Intimacy is a hard thing to get to and can be difficult to keep. It takes work. It took work in your friendship too. The only reason, I think, that we feel it is a more difficult thing to maintain in romantic relationships is because we are maintaining it with just one other person for the rest of our lives. And their opinion matters the most to us.
I hope you have every form of healthy intimacy in your life. I really do. And if you do not, perhaps the best place to start is to check how you interact with other people. Make sure you are building solid foundations with them, be trustworthy and patient. It will come. Also, when you find people with whom you feel you can really be intimate with, be generous with yourself.
Alexis has kicked off our month-long conversation on intimate relationships with this post. She is our short story writer and features Contributor as well as go to woman on just about every issue. Her most recent post for us was “News You Can Really Use.” Alexis freelances and specializes in short stories in various genres including children’s books, adventure, romance, thriller and horror. Contributing writer for many blogs, marketing materials, and workplace narratives for company and employee development. You may contact her and have her write for you through Fiverr.