The Meaning of Intimacy
Intimacy is a journey – it is not a tangible thing. It takes place over time, is ever-changing and is not stagnant. In fact, any kind of stagnation in a relationship kills intimacy. Intimacy can also take many forms. One form of intimacy is cognitive or intellectual intimacy where two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions. If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, they can become quite intimate in an intellectual area.
A second 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 – for example, a group of women all working together on a quilt.
A third form of intimacy is emotional intimacy where two persons can comfortably share their feelings with each other or when they empathise with the feelings of the other person, really trying to understand and trying to be aware of the other person’s emotional side.
A fourth form of intimacy is sexual intimacy. This is the stereotypical definition of intimacy that most people are familiar with. However, this form of intimacy includes a broad range of sensuous activity and is much more than just sexual intercourse. It is any form of sensual expression with each other. Therefore, intimacy can be many things for different people at different times.
Intimacy with another person can be seen as the:
- Unmasking of yourself in order to make yourself vulnerable in a trusting, loving, secure relationship.
- Sense that you have a special, unique, and distinct bond joining you and another person.
- Sense of closeness and proximity or oneness and unity.
- Sharing of tenderness, caring, and affection.
- Sharing of secrets, hidden feelings, and private thoughts.
- Free will offering and receiving of each other.
- Sense of being in a non-punitive, non-abusive and non-manipulative environment.
- 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.
10 Indicators of Intimacy in a Relationship
- Continuous, honest communication and contact with one another exists even if the contact is not in person but is by phone, email, or some other form.
- A mutual task to carry out is willingly shared, discussed, and enjoyed together.
- An affinity or attraction to one another exists to the exclusion of others.
- The company of one another is sought even when you both have a wide selection of other individuals from which to choose.
- 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.
- A sense of humour or sense of play and casualness develops in which you enjoy “give and take” and are relaxed in each other’s company.
- A protective sense of privacy and guardedness about your relationship exists; it is not subjected to public scrutiny, criticism, or judgment.
- The relationship is a productive enterprise resulting in mutual satisfaction, reward, and reinforcement for each other.
- The relationship has a purpose, direction, and order to it that is reasonable, realistic, and healthy for both of you.
- A firm commitment, agreement, or contract exists with each other to be mutually supportive, understanding, and accepting of one another.