Intimacy is the state of feeling close with another being while feeling truly like yourself, simultaneously. It can feel all kinds of ways, including pleasurable, but also naked and vulnerable.
Intimacy is learnable.
Most of us learn our skills in intimacy from observing our families. Depending on your family, this may or may not be who you want for your role models of how to be close. If intimacy sounds like a risky proposition, you’re not alone. It’s common for people to avoid intimacy for lots of reasons, including to protect painful, unhealed emotional wounds. The good news is that intimacy is a series of skills you can learn and practice. It means getting fluent in communicating and resolving conflict.
Learning to be good at intimacy makes it possible to truly receive love and support.
Being intimate means you choose to allow the parts of you that both crave and fear being known, to be known. Intimacy can help sex be really wonderful. Well-functioning close partnerships depend on intimacy. There are many different types and levels of intimacy to share with many different people. It is a generous gift that can only be given, and cannot be forced.
Being close and witnessed with love and compassion supports deep healing.
There is only so much healing you can do on your own. Many people want to just work out their stuff, and then go into relationships all sorted out. However, this isn’t how it works. Relationships are designed to bring up our wounds, so that they can be addressed. Unfortunately, when wounds start to come up in a relationship, many people see this as a problem to be solved.
When the going gets rough, it can be easy to say the relationship isn’t good, or that the relationship needs to end. But what if shit coming to the surface is exactly what needs to happen? What if the relationship is working exactly as it should?
The fact that shit comes up is not in itself a problem.
How you choose to deal with it is where things get interesting.
An amazing thing about well-matched couples is that not only do they play off each other’s strengths, the wounds and baggage they each carry is also well-matched. Meaning, they trigger the crap out of each other!
Reframing intimacy as a container designed for transformation and healing of all involved is a radical departure from the heterosexual monogamous model of happily-ever-after that we get spoon-fed from birth. I would go as far as to say that holding this paradigm is one way to view relationship through a queer lens.
One important note: While anyone in a relationship can use the relationship as a catalyst for personal growth and transformation, for the long-term sustainability factor of said relationship, usually both parties in a couple (or as many as are in a configuration) need to be invested. Otherwise, one person is growing and changing and learning and becoming, while the other is practicing what they have always practiced. Over time, this becomes untenable for parties involved, and something’s got to give.
Questions to ask yourself
Emotional Integrity Skill Set Check-in:
Do I regularly acknowledge all of my needs and desires? (Remember, even if they will not be met at that moment, they still exist.)
Do I regularly acknowledge my unmet needs and express them as needed?
Do I regularly acknowledge the needs of all involved, and hold as equally valid to mine?
Do I share my true inner feelings and thoughts, a.k.a. “Transparency”?
Do I check in when unsure of someone’s feelings, needs, motivations, actions?
Are there any ways I’d like to improve in any of these areas? Is this improvement something I can do myself, or can I call on other resources for support?
Try actively incorporating these communication skills into your daily life for one week:
- Communicate forthrightly, and not wait to be asked.
- Communicate more rather than less about my choices and feelings.
- Practice being HALT aware:
- Communicate with others about charged topics when I am not Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
At the end of the week, take a moment to reflect. What did you notice? Which strategies felt easiest, and which felt more challenging? What surprised you?
6 Not-So-Sexy Things That Lead to Better Sex
By Anabelle Bernard Fournier
Originally posted on wellcelium.org
Cover photo by Unsplash