“Have you ever considered that you may have a fear of intimacy?” a therapist asked me many years ago. I hadn’t. And so began my journey into living the richest human experience imaginable.
Understanding Types of Intimacy
There are different types of intimacy but for the purposes of this short post, lets focus on the three that can cause the most confusion in intimate relationships;
What is intimacy?
Intimacy is the act of expression. For relationships to thrive, and not just survive, there must be intimacy. That is why some relationships simply ‘survive’ without intimate communication. Some people find that having an emotionally distant relationship with their partner is as good as it gets. More than likely this is same emotional intimacy that they grew up with in their family.
Hence, this feeling becomes so familiar, and why change can be so scary. Intimacy for most is very a unfamiliar experience, it is to scary initiate intimacy which is quite literally saying; “into-me-see”
If couples learned to express themselves in intimacy they would build their self-esteem. Self-esteem gives one confidence to nurture a deeper level of love and understanding which will further enrich their own life and their relationship (and sex life) as a result.
The act of expression can seem abstract to many, but once you get used to expressing yourself you will find a more fulfilling life than you could ever imagine.
Emotional Intimacy is a need to express our feelings, in essence stating your feelings involves the words: ‘I feel…’ followed by a single word i.e. I feel angry, sad, worried, shame, happy.
Feelings are not needs or wants. You can still express yourself intimately by expressing a need. ‘I need’ refers only to basic needs such as shelter or love. ‘I need to beer’ or ‘I need holiday’ is not a genuine need which may come as a surprise to some! ‘I want’ refers to anything else that is not a basic human need.
The sharing of feelings in emotional intimacy satisfies the human need to bond with another in the fullest expression of who we are, without hiding behind our usual persona. Emotional intimacy sometimes (but not always) leads to…
Physical intimacy is our need to feel physical contact with another human organism. This is a basic human need just like food, water, time, safety, space.
As men we forget our partner’s needs for physical intimacy and sometimes end up working hard to fix things verbally instead of offering a hug! Sometimes as men we forget that we need physical intimacy to. Other types of physical intimacy include holding hands, kissing, caressing and cuddling. Sometimes (but not always) physical intimacy leads to…
Sexual intimacy is our longing for physical intercourse with another. It is a yearning for an intense physical experience where we drop our barriers and expose ourselves for the human organism that we are. Sometimes this yearning can exist spontaneously, frequently however, emotional and physical intimacy lays a comfortable foundation for sex.
Sexual intimacy is a bombardment of textures, tastes, sounds and of course, is visually stimulating. Some humans enjoy a quick session of sexual intimacy, perhaps even leaving their clothes on or avoiding kissing and eye contact. As humans we try to trust our instincts about when we need sexual intimacy but we don’t always get it right.
Many pursue sex when there is another genuine need that is requiring to be met (e.g. emotional/physical intimacy). When we do get it right, sex can lead to something deeply nurturing and satisfying…
During love-making, partners are willing to surrender their insecurities and trust fully in the person they are having sex with. Making love requires both partners to give up their sense of control and experience true vulnerability without fear of judgment or shame.
Love-making is meditation where the thoughts of the moment pass fleetingly by as the human is immersed in the sensory waterfall of the sexual experience. It is in this melting moment of surrender, appreciation, love, trust and vulnerability that love-making becomes a timeless meditation. Where sex can last indefinitely and multiple orgasms are experienced by both partners.
Everyone can get to this experience but it does require effort to be willing to experience fear and vulnerability.
Why bother if it is scary?
Self-expression is a basic human need. Intimate expression of our feelings using words or touch benefits both people. I love fearlessly now, I have recognised my need to express myself. Self-expression helps both people. Frequently as a partner in an intimate relationship I can tell you that being open to experience another’s expression is still a very human and intimate experience too. Intimate expression honors the bodies NEED for emotional release which builds our self-confidence and leads to a truly fulfilling life, what’s not to like about that!?