The diversity of intimacy


Oh, how lovely it is to be intimate with each other. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about when I say this? Do you see yourself sitting on a sofa with someone else? Closely together? Naked? Or are you sitting at a table with a glass of red wine while having a conversation? Does it always have to include physical touch, or do you experience intimacy more as a shared feeling?

When I ask about intimacy, most people think I’m asking about their sexual relationship, but from my point of view, I’m asking about something completely different. And although everyone is free to choose their own meaning behind words, it could help a lot of people to experience intimacy as something that relates to sexuality, but encompasses so much more than just that. If you are able to look at it like that, you may find that you can move freely through intimacy, even if there are some tensions in your sexual relationship.

Fear of intimacy

There are a lot of people who hold themselves back when it comes to intimacy, out of fear of giving permission for sex. Intimacy, in their experience, can lead to arousal and sex. The reason for holding back could simply be that you don’t feel like having sex, or because you experience pain during sex for example. To make sure no one initiates sex, they try to stay away from any intimate moment that could give off the ‘wrong’ signals. But because partners rarely discuss this or speak about it at all, there is often a lot of misunderstanding and a feeling of rejection by the partner who wants to be intimate, or even wants to have sex. And that is such a shame, because often there is a desire for intimacy, even when there isn’t a desire to have sex.

Can you remember a moment you avoided a kiss or a hug? Or a moment you got into bed with your most unattractive PJ’s on, because you were afraid that an intimate moment would lead your partner to believe that you wanted to have sex?

Intimacy is too often underestimated, overestimated, or used as a synonym for sex. Even though it is so much more than just sex.

Also read: Being intimate

Difference intimacy and sexuality

Couples with a healthy sex life are often able to make a clear distinction between intimacy and sexuality. They are able to surrender themselves to intimate moments without being afraid that they have to have sex as well. They enjoy the intimate moments without any kind of sexual meaning or intentions.

Couples who experience difficulties within their sexual relationships are often barely able to make a distinction between intimacy and sexuality. If there is no sex, then there is no intimacy. For them it feels safer to avoid intimacy, because every form of intimacy could lead to sexual expectations. Intimacy should feel safe and unconditional, so you can really indulge in those moments without worrying.

Intimacy means connection

In the dictionary, you’ll find intimacy described as a form of connection between two or more people. This connection can be physical, emotional or spiritual. But this is not how the majority views intimacy. For most people, intimacy is associated with sex, so when the sexual relationship is tense, so is the intimate relationship. And that is such a shame! Because as soon as the sexual relationship causes tension, it’s the intimacy that makes sure that people stay connected.

There is definitely an overlap between intimacy and sexuality, as an intimate moment can create the possibility of sex, but they are not the same.

Intimacy can be found in different things. It’s about the connectedness between people, between partners, which can be found in an intimate conversation, a comforting hug, subtle eye contact, a gentle touch, or holding hands.

When it’s difficult to be intimate

Sharing intimacy with your partner strengthens your connection. But the absence of intimacy doesn’t always say something about the quality of the relationship. Whether or not you believe sharing intimacy is important can depend on how you have been taught to show your love and affection. There is also a difference between people who don’t need much intimacy and people who find it difficult to be intimate with another person. To engage in an intimate moment, you need to feel safe and comfortable, and even if the other person is your partner, it isn’t always as easy as it may sound to be intimate with someone else. This doesn’t have to say anything about the quality of your relationship either, but might tell you more about the attachment style of your partner. Additionally, it varies per person to what extend intimacy plays a role in showing your love to your partner.

Intimacy might be one of the most important aspects of a relationship; it connects. But people often don’t realize that it comes in so many different forms. So allow yourself the pleasure of all forms of intimacy. And be aware of all the ways it manifests itself in your relationship.

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