Since I’m a big proponent of casual and NSA sex, I hear all the time that with casual sex you can’t achieve intimacy. I hear this in person, via email, and when reading blog posts. This got me to thinking, what is intimacy, anyway? And, why do we want it?
Let’s just jump right in. I’ll attempt to define intimacy and what it does for me, and I want to invite all of our readers to attempt their own definitions, too.
When I think of intimacy, I think of that squishy, cuddly area of a relationship when couples talk about Deep Life Things, share secrets, and generally get to know each other on a super personal level. An intimate level. This often means sharing and talking post-coital, but is certainly not limited to that time period. Intimacy for me also means spending moments with a partner, talking about life and relationship issues, and sometimes coming up with epiphanies. Usually these epiphanies occur on an emotional level, or in an emotional context. For me, intimacy is basically talking about your feelings.
I took the liberty of googling the question, what is intimacy? and according to this article, intimacy can be achieved in the areas of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual. Additionally, all five are meant to occur in harmony. So, I think when most people talk about intimacy, they’re either talking about physical intimacy (sex) or emotional intimacy. For me, deep emotional intimacy is generally reserved for LTR’s, whereas you can achieve intellectual intimacy with friends, too. Spiritual intimacy appears to be for peeps with strong religious beliefs, as in sharing how god is making you feel. I’ve never heard of social intimacy before. Does social intimacy mean couples socializing together and talking about their feelings afterwards?
BTW, the article I referenced above has a few interesting things to say, but it goes on a crazy tangent about how God’s love is the answer and sex should be reserved for marriage. Yuck. More abstinence lit.
What Does Wikipedia Have to Say?
Wikipedia has a pretty reasonable article/essay on intimacy, which can be found here. Here’s a quote:
Intimacy is both the ability and the choice to be close, loving, and vulnerable. Intimacy requires identity development. You have to know yourself and your inner self in order to share your self with another. Knowing yourself makes it possible to stand for yourself in an intimate relationship without taking over the other or losing yourself to the other. This ability to be separate and together in an intimate relationship and being okay with that is called self-differentiation. Lacking the ability to differentiate one self from the other is a form of symbiosis. This too is different from intimacy though to some that kind of dependent closeness may feel the same.
I like what the essay has to say about self-differentiation and symbiosis. Obviously, if you recklessly try to become intimate with someone, you risk co-dependency, a loss of identity, or taking over someone’s identity. Huge problems. This is what PUA lit addresses when we talk about “inner game” and not being needy, although we talk about it in the context of attraction only and not relationships.
Which begs the question, how do you get to that self-differentiation level? My solution is relationship experience and a high volume of dating.
Definition of Intimacy from an Aussie Site
I thought this essay on Relationships Australia did a good job of breaking it down. Quote:
Intimacy is about being emotionally close to your partner, about being able to let your guard down, and let him or her know how you really feel. Intimacy is also about being able to accept and share in your partner’s feelings, about being there when he/she wants to let their defences down. We all have an `inner world’ of feelings and experiences, the world of our day dreams, hopes, fears, hurts and memories, the world of our ‘inner-most’ thoughts. To be able to share our ‘inner-world’ with a partner we love, and to be able to share our partner’s experiences, is one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship.
So, intimacy is about being emotionally close and sharing your inner world with your partner. Cool, I’m down with that.
Caveat: sharing secrets and talking about our inner lives sounds dangerously close to the unloading of baggage, and that other person probably doesn’t want your baggage. I have a lot of secrets, I suppose, but IMO most of them are not worth sharing. Does my girlfriend need to know about every sex partner and every relationship mistake I’ve made? I don’t think so. Why would she? I think it’s far more important to experience new things with your current partner and write your story together, now, and in the future, rather than relive and re-experience the past.
Do We Need Intimacy?
Is intimacy the goal of any good, healthy relationship? Do we NEED to have intimacy in order to be fulfilled as human beings, or can we achieve an elite level of personal, inner development and still consider ourselves self-actualized human beings? Can you have a real relationship and not have intimacy?? Can you have intimacy in a relationship and NOT have sex, and is that worth it? Questions worth exploring…
For me, intimacy is the icing on the relationship cake, but not my current priority, although it may soon become one since I have a girlfriend now. Depending on your life stage, I think it’s perfectly fine to say that you want to date only and not have emotional intimacy with the person(s) you’re dating. Just like I think it’s perfectly fine to say you just want to have sex and no other connection. Whatever is right for you, just keep it real and tell your partner what you’re on about.
Lastly, why is intimacy so gooey and gay un-masculine?? Just writing this post made me want to watch football and drink a sixer of the Beast just to get back in balance. Yesh.
If this post made you want to get intimate with Lance, you may also enjoy these: