What is Intimacy? Many people think that intimacy is just something that happens behind closed doors. This word is so ingrained in that mind set it was very astounding for me as a counselor. During a counseling session without thinking I asked a male patient if he had any males that he had intimacy with. The patient in a very shocked and short tone responded, “absolutely not!”. It became clear to me as I have worked in therapy over the years that many people do not know the true definition of intimacy. This word has become diminished to meaning something that only happens between the sheets.
So in order to clear the air. A definition of intimacy appears to be in order.
Intimacy – Close familiarity or friendship; closeness
When this definition was given to the patient they were quit able to give several male friends they felt fit that description. This same reaction however is evident often in marriage or couples counseling. Couples tend to recognize the euphemistic definition much more readily than they do the actual definition. So often couples when they are approached with this concept they appear to feel they are doing well. They often want to talk about their sex life but they fail to get the bigger picture. Relationships are so much more than sharing a house, sharing bank accounts, having sex, or having the identity as a couple. True intimacy is a fundamental foundation piece that any relationship should have.
So how do you build intimacy? Well that is something much like growing a garden. You have to tend to it, care for it, foster it, and put effort in, in order to gain rewards. In a garden that would be vegetables for the table. In a relationship both romantic and not you would gain companionship, social time, and support.
Make time to be with friends and loved ones. Listen to others as they talk and don’t feel the need to solve every problem. Sometimes people just need to have someone listen to them. Share thoughts and ideals. Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t make you more right than them. Far too often this little disagreement will send people to arms. What may have been a strong and supportive friendship could be lost over a sports team. Seems trivial but things as simple happen daily. Just treating others how you want to be treated leads to phenomenal results. It is easy to become hung up on our wants and needs. If you turn your attention too inward then you cannot see what your actions do to others. We should all take time to focus on not causing harm to others. In the end it is all of our jobs to advance the human condition.
If you take the time to be healthy. Identify people that are healthy. Then make the effort to continue to share, build, and tend to that friendship. You will develop healthy intimacy with the person you have taken the effort to build a foundation with. This applies to friends, family, and yes romantic relationships too.