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Why is Intimacy Important in All Your Relationships?

Man playing with two childrenMAUDE: Some days put you in touch with what its all about! Sunday was one of those days. We had such a sweet and touching Mother’s Day. After a lovely brunch with the kids, we took a long drive on a winding road surrounded by gently rolling hills and beautiful natural views.

We hardly spoke. We sat in close intimate contact, silently sharing the setting, the moment, the company, the ‘us’ of the experience.

Intimacy is a critical element for successful, peaceful relationships. In order to share intimacy in a relationship, you have to actually be present with each other. As we wrote last week, you cannot share love if you are not there. It is the same with intimacy. This is the space where you realize you are connected and aligned with another. It is an act of mutually sharing ourselves; of opening up and giving the other an inside view of who we are.

We all have an innate drive toward relating in this way. We seek the sense of kinship and belonging that it engenders. We get an early sense of this when we are infants and small children and we are completely open and trusting. To have intimacy in our relationships, we must feel able to let down defenses, be authentic and attentively open to receive. These are prerequisites to sensing this kind of connection.

People find many ways to be intimate in their relationships. Sex and the sense of union and merging that it can bring is a form of closeness that is often an early experience of how deep intimacy can be. Activities that are shared, and carry a sense of kinship, of united viewpoints and deep equal caring for each other engender this type of relating.

In our interviews with couples, we have encountered a variety of ways that people achieve this in their relationships. The same can be said of all relationships. One couple we spoke with alluded to cuddling and physical sensual contact as a vital way they connected.

We wrote in an earlier blog about this:

And yet the way that people express and recognize intimacy varies considerably. So much so that this dissonance is often the root cause of unhappiness and discontent within relationships. Both partners can crave intimacy, but not recognize the form it is offered in by their partner.

How often have you heard of a woman refusing sex with her partner because she feels a lack of intimacy in other areas of the relationship, or a man feeling that his offerings of intimacy go unnoticed because they are different from what is expected?

Intimacy can be sexual, but it can also be sensual or just warm and physically comfortable. However expressed, we have found that regular physical contact is an important component of our feeling connected. Whether it be holding hands, hugging, making love, having casual contact of arms or legs while sitting near each other, whatever form, having our bodies link up regularly seems to be critical to our sense of togetherness.

In further interviews, one couple spoke of their shared TV series watching and how they connected through the humor and values that were the underlying messages of these shows. Others mentioned cooking together, working together, going to events that they were both deeply interested in, or hiking, biking, kayaking together.

No matter what the form, the need to have ongoing experiences establishing relatedness is a necessary element in keeping love alive. There must be a vital way of knowing that the ‘we’ is as real as the ‘me’. It’s not so important what you do, as that you do.

PHIL: Let’s talk about intimacy: what it is, why you need it, and how to get it. The dictionary says it’s closeness, familiarity, warmth, affection. We all need it because we’re group animals. You might – just might – survive alone in the wilderness, but as a group, we don’t just survive but thrive. (There’s a whole other story about inter-group struggles that I have written about, but we needn’t go there.) Intimacy is that feeling of connection with the group. Of course, these days, the group is so large that we don’t know most of the people in it, so our feeling of connection to the group is through the people we know.

With them, whether your friend or your lover, it’s about openness, understanding, feeling connected. It takes time to come to know a person. How they behave, are they trustworthy, can you be open with them and can they be open with you, do they gossip or lie or turn up late?

And correspondingly, how much of yourself can you show them? Because we all have a public persona: “How do you do?” “Very well, thank you,” that serves to make society work. We hide our dislikes and fears and weaknesses and fetishes in self-defense, yet we need to share these to feel intimate, to feel connected. To that end, we need to strengthen several internal feelings. We need to feel love and empathy for others, not hate and fear, and we need to feel good about ourselves, not shameful. (Yes, it’s that old self-esteem; a term that is dropping out of fashion.)

Research shows that about 90 percent of our reality is internally generated; it’s an interpretive action derived from our earlier experiences and understanding of the world. If you don’t have enough intimacy in your life, it’s both because you’re not seeing it and you’re not offering it. Open your eyes and your heart to it, because it is there and we’re all here for each other.

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Book Signing at Chaucer's!

Poster for book readingHey, for all you locals, we will be at Chaucer's for a book signing and reading on May 29 starting at 7:00 PM. We will be signing and reading from How Two: Have a Successful Relationship, and Karen Haddigan will be signing and reading from Secrets of Dating After Fifty. Please come and join us for fun, autographed copies, treats and the opportunity to support your local indie authors!! Hope to see you there and please, bring your friends!

For those of you who aren't local and haven't bought our book yet or want to give it as a present, it would be great if you called into Chaucer's at 805-682-6787 and ordered your signed copy.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfThis week we blogged about why intimacy is important in all your relationships. These articles explore various aspects of this important subject.

Intimacy: The Art of Relationships "Our culture provides for meeting all other needs, especially the need for autonomy, but not for intimacy. Within this framework, couples today must provide for each other more of the emotional needs that a larger community used to furnish. Compounding the wide-scale deprivation of intimacy we actually experience, our cultural talent for commercialization has separated out sex from intimacy."

The What and How of True Intimacy "Intimacy is what most people long for but not everyone finds, or rather, makes. Why? Because intimacy, true closeness with another human being, can also be scary. Getting to the intimate core of a relationship requires that both people work through their fear....A truly intimate relationship lets both people know on the deepest level who they each truly are."

Building Intimacy in Relationships "When you hear the word intimacy as it refers to relationships, the likelihood is that you think of sex. In reality, though, intimacy is so much more than a sexual connection. You can have an intimate relationship with someone who’s never even seen you naked. Intimacy is about vulnerability, that connection you make with someone. Experts distinguish between four different types of intimacy: physical, emotional, cognitive, and experiential."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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