Intimacy is a treasured human experience. Most people when asked if they would like to increase intimacy will answer yes. At the same time, though we may intuitively know what intimacy is, few consider how to nurture intimacy. In order to do so we will answer some key questions. What is intimacy? What is it not? How does intimacy happen and under what conditions?
What Is Intimacy?
Though often confused for one another, sex and intimacy are not the same things. Yes, you can have very intimate sexual encounters, but it is also true that you can have sex that is far from intimate. Intimacy is an experience that is created in relationship. Intimacy does not occur in a vacuum. Intimacy can happen in any kind of relationship. In order for intimacy to take root and blossom, there are preconditions that need exist first
How Does Intimacy Occur?
Intimacy occurs when people who care about one another allow it too. They may even work at it happening. IIn order for intimacy to be present, there are five basic conditions that must exist first. These are Self/knowledge/acceptance, Carin, trust, Honesty, and Clear Communication.
Self Acceptance & Knowledge
In order to let others in, to know when it is safe, requires some knowledge and acceptance of oneself. In many ways, life is an ongoing process of getting to know ourselves, in order to let someone close enough experience intimacy, caring for ourselves is a prerequisite, if we don’t care for ourselves, how o why might we allow someone also close enough to do so?
Trust is an important baseline for intimacy. When there is trust, there is revealing of oneself which is part of what makes intimacy happen. Trust is the hope that when one is revealing one’s innermost self, that there will be acceptance and nurturing of that kind of feeling as opposed to ridicule, harm, or rejection.
Caring is also vital. When there is caring, there is acceptance even of another person’s guilt or shame. In caring, we nurture trust in the other person, building up their sense of self, and self-acceptance.
Without honesty, there can not be true trust. Honesty is a cornerstone of intimacy and when combined with caring, becomes a tool with which each person can uncover more of themselves and even the other person. When intimacy is part of sex, honesty will make the experience deeper and more pleasurable for both partners.
Communicating our feelings responsibly and without blame is part of communicating clearly. Being a dedicated and committed listener is the other side of the coin. Often, couples feel that they are clear communicators because each individual expresses themselves, and yet without knowing that they have actually been heard, has communication truly occurred?
Regular and practiced communication ensures that partners remain on the same page and truly understand one another building greater trust and caring.