One of the most common questions we hear is, “I’m not sure if I am doing this right. What is intimacy anyways?” And it is usually met with worried faces, sweaty palms, and tormented minds. Truth is, there really is no “perfect” answer. Why? Because intimacy is expansive and can include and cover so many things, which are different to each and every human on the planet. The fear of intimacy is one of the top listed and most common fears in the world of therapy and healing. If you are struggling, you are not alone!
“What is intimacy anyways?”
It’s your heart.
It’s your fears.
It’s your future.
It’s your plans.
It’s openness and sharing.
It’s your closest ride-or-die.
It’s the little thing that makes your stomach flip.
It’s the feeling of comfort.
It’s having your deepest, darkest needs met.
It is part of being whole as a human.
It’s a huge part of life.
All of these things, and more, are intimacy. All of these things, these moments and times in life, are intimate. It is one of the most natural, common, and necessary feelings, emotions, and parts of life that all humans need. That all humans crave. That without, parts of our bodies and faculties can stop working, stop functioning, and in the least, become wholly un-functioning as we once knew. Many people try to pretend that intimacy does not matter to them, and that “sex is just extra.” That is the thing about intimacy: it is not solely found in sexual intercourse or sexually charged situations. You can find intimacy and intimate, connecting moments in everyday life.
In the dictionary, intimacy is defined as a noun meaning: close familiarity, friendship; closeness; an intimate act, especially sexual intercourse. Synonyms tied to this word are togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, friendliness, affection, warmth, and confidence. (Resources Used: https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/intimacy)
Intimacy comes in all forms: cuddling, massaging, talking, connecting and anything else that makes two people feel closer together. For some couples, intimacy is simply sitting by their partner on the couch, watching their favorite television show. For others, intimacy is a way for one partner to show another how much they mean to them. And for some, intimacy is sex or any other sexual act. Intimacy can also be achieved by oneself, by interacting with close friends or finding comfort in the things that make you feel whole and sated. Many people also find this comforting connection with their pets. Connections can be made non-sexually between friends with hugs, handshakes, and pats on the back. Long talks and conversating is another way some people find intimacy and connection with others. Intimacy comes from parenting and the bonds formed between parent and child, and the same for other strong, secure family relationships. Intimacy can be built in trusting relationships with your medical team and staff, as well.
When we are faced with a life-altering illness, or any condition that changes the way we have to live, we often put things like intimacy, self-care, and our own needs on the back burner. We leave these things are left to deal with when our bodies can function once again, have more energy, and do not feel like they have just been put through the ringer. And that in itself a big part of the problem! Without these simple things: intimacy, our personal needs being met, and self-care, we are only a shell of the amazing beings we were created to be. Intimacy is not something to be feared or so focused on that it becomes a chore or unnatural task. Once people realize that intimacy is not simply laying down in a bed, that it is truly in our everyday lives, then they see that there are a multitude of ways to reincorporate this much needed connection back into their everyday routines.
Intimacy is like a fine wine in that, the longer it develops, the deeper and fuller it is. Many people misplace their need for certain intimacy and end up trapped in their minds and lonely. Why? Just as a garden hose is a vehicle, but not a source of water, intercourse is not the source of true intimacy. Sexual intercourse is simply an extra outlet, or expression, and way to connect intimately. Too many of us place too much focus on this, and not the act of intimacy as a whole.
Real intimacy shines the brightest light on your soul; as if you’ve been found. After fighting any illness, being found again, even if different than the past, could be the best thing for you. Read on to part two to find out how to nurture the intimacy that exists in your life.
“Our souls crave intimacy.” Erwin Raphael McManus