|One of the things that we all seek, and struggle with at times, in a relationship, is intimacy.|
One of the reasons why so many may struggle in this area, is because of preconceived notions that they have, of what intimacy actually is. Intimacy is so much more than making love to someone. While sexual chemistry is an important part of a healthy relationship, it is merely a part of the relationship ( at least it should be ).
There are several different levels, and parts, that make up what we classify as intimacy. Each one of these levels, and parts of intimacy, is important in a relationship, if we are to have a fulfilling relationship with another person.
The first level of intimacy is introduction. This stage involves you introducing yourself to others, or being introduced to someone. At this level of intimacy, you acknowledge them as an individual, greet them, and exchange names. While this level of intimacy may appear trivial, and at times archaic, it is a very important part of intimacy, that is often overlooked, in my opinion. At this level of intimacy, you are relaying the message to others, that you respect yourself, and the individualism of others. When you greet someone, or are introduced by someone, and you acknowledge that person by saying,"Hi, my name is Robert." "It is nice to meet you". You are conveying to others that you are approachable. When you take action in this level of intimacy, you are also conveying to other people, that overall, you are confident and proud of who you are. This stage can, but does not always entail, further contact by both people.
Do you greet people first, or do you wait for others to approach you first? If you are waiting for someone to approach you first, before introducing yourself, that other person may be having the same thought about you. Someone has to take that first step in intimacy. Why shouldn't it be you? We are all shy at times. I know I am. It is not always easy for us, to walk over to someone, and introduce ourselves, especially when we are attracted to them. Even though we are struggle in this first area of intimacy, we shouldn't allow any doubts, or fears, to control us all the time. Why? Because each one of us is wonderfully unique, and have something good to share with another person, even if its just a simple hello, smile, hug, or handshake. You are worth meeting because you are who you are. Let the rest of the world know that!
The next level of intimacy is acquaintance. At this level, we no longer wait for them to greet us first. At this level, we know their name, exchange hellos when we see them, as well as other information, that may, or may not be about us, or them directly, in a general manner. A person who is in this intimacy circle with you, is someone that you may work with, met online, know from church, or met through your extended group of friends. While you may know this person's name, and some very general things about them, you don't go out of your way to see them. At this level, neither one of you has actually extended the 'hand' of friendship to one another, that moves both of you, into the next area of intimacy called friendship.
The next level of intimacy is friendship. When we arrive at this level of intimacy inside ourselves, and with another person, we have already taken off the 'overcoat' of introduction, and the 'jacket' of acquaintance, but we still have our 'sweater' on. That 'sweater', is the 'sweater' of friendship. At this level of intimacy, we are comfortable enough to show another person, some more of who we are underneath the 'overcoat' and jacket' of ourselves. At this level of intimacy, you have direct contact with this person in some way, outside of your typical travel path, or circle. At this level, you are both exchanging some personal information with one another, in regards to what you are both thinking, and feeling, that you would not otherwise do, with someone you were just introduced to, or an acquaintance. A person inside this level of intimacy with us, is a person whom we don't usually think about, outside of our usual, and immediate contact with them. And if we do think about this person,or contact them, it is usually centered around one, or two areas of commonality, that we share with them, and that is it.
The next level of intimacy is good friend. This is a person whom we share with on a deeper level than that of a friend. At this level of intimacy, we have taken off our 'overcoat','jacket',and 'sweater'. At this level of intimacy, we are sharing more of who we are with them. At this level of intimacy, we are not only sharing good things with them, but also some bad things as well, that we may have just experienced, or going through at at the moment. At this level of intimacy, not only do we have an intellectual bond with them, we also have an emotional bond them. A person inside this level of intimacy with us, is a person whom we believe we can count on in a general way, as to our day to day happenings, whether it be listening to something private about us, or taking action in a general way, to assist us in a need we may have. This is a person who not only respects us as an individual, but one that is focused on the 'giving' part of the relationship as well. This is a person that understands, and appreciates, that a good friend is someone that not only receives from the relationship, but gives as well. At this level of intimacy, there is mutual give and take. It is not a one-sided relationship, as may be the case, with someone at our friendship level of intimacy.
The next level of intimacy is best friend. This is a person whom we feel we can 'practically' share anything with. At this level of intimacy, we have taken off the 'sweater' of friendship, and we are showing them the 'shirt' of us. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person who has seen us at our very best, as well as at our worst. While it may be hard at times to share certain things with the. We acknowledge inside ourselves, that we do want to share those hard moments as ell. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person who actually wants to walk with us on our life journey. A person inside this level of intimacy, understands, and appreciates, that while we may have more common interests, and goals together, we also have our own needs, and desires at times, as well. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person who truly appreciates the intellectual and emotional bond that is shared, while respecting ( as best they can ) the personal life and boundaries of each person. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person who cares about the 'little' things that are shared, and given in the relationship, and not just the 'big' events in our life. This is a person whom we want to have regular, and meaningful contact with, and they us. This is also a person that we may start to have thoughts about, as to a possible future together.
The next level of intimacy is confidant. At this level of intimacy, we have removed our 'shirt' and we stand bare before them. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person whom we can, and do share everything with. No matter what is said at a given moment, we know that we can count on this person. A person inside this level of intimacy, not only shares an intellectual and emotional bond with us, they also share a spiritual bond with us. At this level of intimacy, any walls that may have been up in some way, are now gone. A person in this level of intimacy, is someone we have on our mind and heart at all times, even in an indirect way. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person that is an integral part of our life. A person inside this level of intimacy, wants, and revels in, not only talking with us, but communicating as well. This is a person who feels that there is no such thing as 'meaningless' sharing. A person inside this level of intimacy, is a person whom we also have sexual intimacy with, as can be the case, with someone in our good friend, or best friend level of intimacy, provided there is in fact, a physical attraction to the other person, and an understanding between both people. A person in this level of intimacy, is a person whom we talk with on a deeper level, as to a possible future together. At this level, both parties are taking steps in various ways, whether directly, or indirectly, as to the issue of a real, and possible future together. At this level, often times, both parties are able to communicate with each other, without words.
The last level of intimacy, and one that is the culmination of all the other levels of intimacy, is lover. This is a person whom we have grown with inside ourselves, as well as as a couple. At this level of intimacy, there is no doubt by either person, that they want to be together for the rest of their lives, no matter what it takes. A person in this level of our intimacy, is a person that we not only share an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bond with, we also share a soul bond ( if you will ) with them. A person in this level of intimacy, has kissed our soul beyond words. A person in this level of intimacy, is the song we sing inside ourselves. And making love to them, is but a physical expression of all that we have, and are sharing with them, on an intellectual, emotional, spiritual level.
So many times, we are guilty of allowing the circumstances, and peripheral issues of life, to block the intimacy that we truly want to have in our lives. At times, we are all guilty ( me included ) of trying to 'help' things along in our relationship, at whatever point it may be. We all ( me included ) get impatient at times. It is not always easy to live in the various levels of intimacy. At times they can be very trying, especially when we don't know what is going on inside ourselves at times, much less the person that we are with, or would like to keep growing with. I have been guilty before, of not truly seeing the precious little expressions of care, and love before me as given. I am sure I am not alone in that. Although it is important that we share, and express our heartfelt feelings with those special people ( and person ) in our life, it shouldn't be necessary for other people to have to use specific words all the time with us, in order for us to know how much they care about us.
If you are married, or in a relationship with someone, and that deep level of intimacy isn't what it used to be, talk with your partner about it. Have you been a true confidant to them, or have you been acting as a friend, or a best friend lately? If you have been a best friend to them, or even a confidant, and you feel that there is a distance there, that wasn't there before, then speak the truth in love with them.
Each level of intimacy takes daily work. We all have struggles inside ourselves at times. We all get out of balance inside ourselves at certain times, and we need compassion, consistency, communication, and love from those people ( and person ) that are so very dear to us. We aren't always going to be on the same page every day with each other. Just because we may be wanting a serious moment with another, and they are mentally distracted or what have you, that doesn't mean that they do care about you and what you are trying to convey to them. It simply means that for whatever reason, that other person is not on the same page intimacy wise, physically or otherwise, that you may be at that moment. Sometimes we need to remember to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person, and remember that we have will go through times like that, even we haven't already. Being in a relationship with someone, or seeking to be, is not about being at the same place intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, or even physically all the time. In my opinion, its about holding on to each others hands and hearts, during the fun and great times, as well as the trying and distant times. The worst thing we can do, is keep everything inside us, and go silent. That is where the compassion, consistency, communication, and love comes in, more than ever. Nobody is perfect. No relationship ( in whatever form it may be ) is perfect. We all have our faults and things that we struggle with each day.
Intimacy ( at its various levels ) with another person is something that we grow into. It can't happen overnight. Making love to someone happens long before the clothes come off. If we haven't done our best to be that best friend, confidant, or lover, to that person we truly care about, we can't expect that intimate act of making love to be there, or be like we long for it to be again. Intimacy ( past that of introduction level ) is a two way street. We can't give 100% day in and day out. I can't. I like to think I can sometimes. What we can do, is our best each day. What we can do, is keep the 'door' to ourselves open during the good and easy times, as well as the harder times.
I have moments where I struggle with the different levels of intimacy. Just because I am writing about intimacy, that doesn't mean that it is always easy for me, or that I always do the right thing. I learn more about myself and others each and every day. Nobody has the inside track when it comes to relationships. We all have our strength and weaknesses in this area. That is why I believe it is important for all us, to help each other as best we can, and know how, each day.
What I have written of here, about intimacy, is not written in stone. These are some, (and I want to stress the word some ) of my thoughts on intimacy. I have made some general comments about intimacy. They are not to be taken, or received as the final word, or viewed as something that should fit nice and neat in some kind of box. Life doesn't work that way, and neither does intimacy. I hope that the article has been a help to you in some way.