We have all heard of intimacy and we may even know how important it is in relationships. But, what is it and how do we create and maintain it? Intimacy is defined as a close familiarity or friendship; closeness. While it may seem this applies to romantic relationships, intimacy is important in non-romantic relationships as well. It is essential to forming connections with others that are deep, lasting, and healthy.
Intimacy is showing our inner self to another person. When we live in an intimate partnership, our task is to learn to be worthy of the trust and vulnerability our partner opens to us. At the same time we need to learn to show our fears and yearnings to our beloved. When we are open and intimate with our partner, we deserve to be treated with tenderness and respect in return.
True intimacy introduces us to ourselves. When we first fall in love, we are filled with optimism and the greatest hopes for fulfillment of our dreams. We cling to all the best qualities of the person we fall in love with and we look past those things we don’t like. But living in an intimate partnership takes us beyond the edge of what we have initially learned. It takes us deeper into the sharing and expressing of our inner most selves, as well as that of our partner.
Love at first sight is easy to understand. It’s when two people have been looking at each other for years, that it becomes a miracle.Sam Levenson
6 Types of Intimacy
- Physical Intimacy: This is the form of intimacy most people envision – physical touch.
- Emotional Intimacy: Demonstrated through words and communication.
- Intellectual Intimacy: Sharing ideas, thoughts, and viewpoints.
- Creative Intimacy: Expressing ourselves through art, music, sports, etc.
- Experiential Intimacy: Sharing experiences together
- Spiritual Intimacy: Sharing beliefs and values.
We are first taught intimacy as babies when our parents hold us and give us affection. From there we begin to develop intimate relationships with others, offering them our vulnerabilities in order to build trust. Intimacy is actually good for our health. Those of us in intimate relationships tend to have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and decreased levels of stress.
Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give.Bertrand Russell
For some of us, when we fall in love, the idea of intimacy is new. We haven’t had any experience as adults in sustaining this openness and vulnerability. We may gradually begin to feel too vulnerable and exposed. The relationship tests our ability to trust someone who has this much power over us. We may begin to try and control our partner so we don’t feel so vulnerable. Be aware of the possibility of this temptation. Breathe deeply, and trust that we can survive while being so close and vulnerable. It is well-worth the risk!