Today I’d like to take a deep dive into intimacy and it’s critical role in different types of relationships. When we look at the social health foundation, intimacy is how you grow connection and build healthy relationships. Let’s consider it from two different perspectives: intimacy with friends and family and intimacy within committed relationships.
What do I even mean by intimacy with friends and family? Intimacy is the act of developing an open and honest atmosphere by being authentic and vulnerable with a friend, family member, or anyone who has earned that privilege. Take a moment to think about your best friend or perhaps your closest sibling. How often do you talk? Do you know special things about that person that not everyone knows? Are you able to talk about anything without the fear of being judged? These are aspects of intimacy and are at the heart of true connection.
Connection, as discussed in a previous article, is something we are designed to crave. It is what we strive for as we seek love and acceptance from those around us. Intimacy and connection are developed by taking time to truly get to know someone, understand what motivates them, saddens them, etc.
If the thought of intimacy with a friend or family member is terrifying, then consider why. Is it due to a previous hurt? Was it never demonstrated to you? Are you afraid if you show who you truly are you won’t be accepted?
Let me throw a truth bomb at you that you need to listen to with your whole mind, body, and soul. Those who have hurt you or won’t accept the authentic you, are not your people and aren’t worth your time. I know that is so easy to say, but you need to believe it. You were created for a purpose and designed perfectly. Anyone that doesn’t accept you as is, has their own problems, which are not a reflection on you. As you learn to trust who you are and allow yourself to be real and authentic, you will be drawn to your people. You will be so much happier in those relationships than any relationship in which you have to pretend to be something you are not.
Let’s look at intimacy from the other perspective. In a marriage or committed relationship, intimacy is everything we just talked about, with the added layer of sexual intimacy. I know, even writing it feels naughty, but I think it is so important to talk about and understand.
We were designed to have sexual desires and they are not bad or naughty; however, they do belong in committed relationships. I know the tendency these days is to have casual sexual relationships, but this diminishes it’s significance with your partner. Sex is a foundational component of a committed relationship and deserves just as much time and attention as the other parts of your relationship. Now before you start thinking I’m “on the man’s side” or whoever is more sexually driven, please hear me out.
When used properly, sex is a good and healthy thing. It is a stress reliever, releases positive hormones, and most importantly, it draws you closer together, because it’s something that just the two of you share. Sex should be enjoyed regularly and never be used as a punishment.
Please don’t take this to mean that you should always have sex whenever your partner wants it; that is not the point I am trying to make. Sex is good for both of you and should be made a priority; however, if you are struggling with sexual intimacy, I strongly encourage you to reflect on the underlying causes and begin to address whatever is holding you back. Remember, we are talking about intimacy and open, honest communication is the foundation of intimacy. You can’t fix things that are never discussed. This might include discussing what you like and don’t like; sex needs to be an enjoyable experience for both of you.
This week I am challenging you to try something a little crazy in your committed relationship. Make sexual intimacy a priority. Perhaps you can give a real kiss, not just the one you typically share after a long day at work. Send a suggestive text message, or maybe initiate intentional touching throughout the evening to keep you both engaged and build anticipation. Once you experience sexual intimacy regularly, you will find that you feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. I think you will also discover that communication and intimacy in all areas of your relationship with your significant other will grow more open and natural.
Intimacy in any relationship can be intimidating, but when you find your people, whether it be with friends, family, or a significant other, intimacy becomes something you look forward to sharing. Remember, start slow in any relationship and as trust builds so will intimacy.