Intimacy is my personal favorite of all the components of relationships. I am discovering that all the components are necessary for a relationship to grow strong and last, but intimacy is the spark.
It's like the dessert! You have to have your meat and veggies to stay healthy but knowing that there's dessert, just makes everything better.
Intimacy is defined as a close or familiar, loving relationship with another person that comes from experience and time; deeply knowing that person.
My definition of intimacy is simply speaking without words. It's that unspoken language that only comes from opening up to your partner, being vulnerable and allowing him/her to know you. It's when you're bonded with a person so much you've developed cues and looks and touches that mean so much to just your partner and you.
For Jeanny R. it means, "Having an argument before bed time and the touch of your leg with his equals 'I'm sorry', and spooning means 'apology accepted'."
Intimacy is more complex than what you might have originally thought, so here's a breakdown of all that I have found out.
Intellectual Intimacy refers to the meeting of the minds. Sharing your thoughts and ideas; your desires and opinions all with out judgement. You don't always have to agree, but your opinion is your own and respected.
Emotional Intimacy refers to sharing your feelings. This level of intimacy brings about a sense of of security. A feeling that you will always be a part of each other's lives. This is the vulnerability and opening up, risking it all to put your feelings out on the table.
Spiritual Intimacy is the sharing of your belief system. Praying together, worshiping together, believing and submitting obediently in something larger than yourselves.
Physical Intimacy. This level is the one many people think of when they heard the word. However, intimacy is not synonymous with sex. But for those that said sex should be in the top ten of making a relationship last, this, is where it fits in. Physical intimacy is important and vital to a heathy relationship but it's not the "act" that strengthen's the bond. If you work on the other three levels of intimacy before ever getting to the physical aspects, your relationship has a better chance of surviving. Remember, intimacy is about KNOWING. It's not about sleeping together. It's more than sharing our bodies but sharing our whole selves.
When the Bible refers to the sexual act between Adam and Eve, it was written Adam KNEW Eve. It was considered sacred and intimate. But later in the Bible when David commits adultery with Bathsheba, a different word was used. David... lay with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-5) Their intercourse was lustful. He wasn't serious about a future with her. He wanted her, but didn't want to KNOW her.
In my own humble opinion, you will never find intimacy with causal sex. It's what you're looking for, but you won't find it. Some people mistake that rush of oxytocin that comes with having sex as love or intimacy, but it's not the same. Both love and intimacy come with time. The rush of oxytocin is a temporary high. And when you come down off of it, you want to hurry up and find it again. Because it's what we're built for. To seek out love, companionship... intimacy.
Intimacy is that connectedness that we all yearn for. We long for someone to KNOW us. We long to be loved for everything we are. Unconditionally. Completely. We are all looking for the dessert, that makes the entire meal... perfect.
Here are a few helpful tips that might help you increase the intimacy in your relationship. Add one or two here and there until soon it will become an automatic thing, and hopefully your partner will reciprocate.
-Facing your problems together/ Share joys. Work together as a team so neither one of you ever feel abandoned. And on the flip side, share your happy times and good news with your partner so they can join in on your happiness.
-Accept each other unconditionally. Understand that you are not going to always see eye to eye and that you can't always agree but you can still respect your differences.
-Be supportive, but not bossy. No one likes to be told that they're always doing something wrong. So encourage your partner and when they ask for advice, or tips, always offer your expertise. But also be gentle if your advice is not sought after, perhaps all they need is a hand to hold or a quick "You can do it!"
-Look into each other's eyes when speaking quietly or intimately. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Bare your soul to your partner. He/she will know that you are paying attention to only him/her and that you hold a place of importance in his/her life.
-Be present with your partner. Don't multi-task. Pay attention to what he/she is saying. Be in the moment and let him/her know they have your full attention. Don't play on your phone or answer e-mails or watch television when you are scheduled for some one on one time with your mate.
-Be emotionally available. Be empathetic. We all handle crisis in different ways, learn what your partner needs from you and be prepared to give it. Be willing to open up and become vulnerable with him/her.
-Help each other achieve their goals. When you unselfishly stand behind the person you love and can watch them complete their goals it binds you together and also makes precious memories for your future.
-Touch. Hugging, kissing, holding hands helps to keep that regular infusion of oxytocin in your system. Be sensitive to what your partner needs physically, careful not to cross boundaries, and watch your intimacy grow.
-Be appreciative. Make sure your partner knows how much you appreciate the things that they do or say, never take love for granted.
You can see why it's my favorite, right? Knowing you're the most important person to some one can make all the difference in the world. But intimacy can't be rushed. Take your time, enjoy the journey.
Intimacy is something that comes instantly with our children, we work towards it with our friends, but we yearn for it most from our partner...
This is the first entry in the series The Components of A Lasting Relationship. When I put out a survey asking you what the most important aspects of a relationship were, the answers became the topics of this series. They are the top answers that I got back. It was pretty interesting that when over 200 people responded, there were clear cut "winners". There were ten that were continually repeated with "Trust" being the number one answer. But for the sake of the series, these articles are presented in no particular order as all seem to be equally important.
And let me take a quick moment to thank all who send in their opinions and answer all of my questions to make these articles much more personal and while I'm taking a "scientific" approach to love, your viewpoints and comments make it more real and close to home. So thank you.
And without further ado, I offer the first in our series: Commitment
"One of the prerequisites of a healthy relationship is that it is usually necessary to make a commitment in order to reap benefits."
-H. Wallace Goddard, PhD, C.F.L.E.
Professor of Family Life
The dictionary explains commitment as a "pledge or promise" and some of you say that there are "levels" of commitment, but in talking with you and doing my research, the majority of those who responded,when it comes to love relationships, commitment means so much more.
JoAnn O. believes that commitment comes in many levels depending where a couple is in their relationship. "Plenty of relationships have survived without a commitment, but even in non-commital relationships, the lines have to be clear." Meaning that even though the couple may not be destined for the alter, there is a certain level of commitment. For example, "I will date other people but I will only have sex with you." "I only want to date you." These kinds of commitments are usually found in the beginnings of the dating process and as a couple grows closer the commitment intensifies. But the couple needs to be honest as to the boundaries of your relationship and what each one of you are looking for.
Once you have the faintest idea that the person you are with could be "the One" wanting a commitment is a natural process that occurs on its own. Feelings increase, possessiveness and maybe even a little "healthy jealousy" sneaks in and before you know it, you can't stand the thought of spending time with anyone else.
"To me," Laura G. says, "commitment means that you are in it until the end. You can't just leave when things get rough. You choose to stick it out no matter what."
"Commitment starts as a promise," Heather C. offered, "But it's more than words. It has to be attitude too. People can be in a committed relationship for years because they feel that they HAVE to stay in it, so I think commitment is also about wanting to stay in that relationship. It's the attitude that you don't HAVE to but you WANT to."
Some make the difference between promise and commitment by saying that a promise is an individual thing. "I promise to take you to the concert." or "I promise to stop at the grocery store after work." But a commitment is an on-going event. "I commit to the effort to quit smoking." I commit that you are the only one I want in my life." "I commit that this puppy is a part of our family for its life." Commitment is more, deeper, consistent. It's a mind set that despite the problems or trials that may come in front of you, you won't give up on what you have committed.
Commitment needs to approached by both action and emotion. Action is, of course the doing. Taking the necessary steps to always keep your commitment a priority but then there is the emotional aspect. The feeling that what you have committed to is worthwhile. That it is something, or in our case, someone that is worth all the effort and sacrifice to make your world a better place.
On that same note, if the person you're dating has a difficult time keeping minor promises, the odds are pretty high that he/she will have a tough time with commitment as well.
Jennifer L. says, "Without commitment you have a loveless (relationship). Why would you stay together? Relationships can't survive without it."
A relationship that is built on an unclear foundation where one or both partners are not honest about their level of commitment will most likely be unable to sustain for a long period of time. Our minds and hearts need that sound foundation that in turn creates trust that futures are built on. Commitment provides a safe and secure environment so that couples can grow together in confidence knowing that their partner is always going to be there.
Couples state that this kind of foundation is rarely found in "singles" relationships because the "exit" door is always within reach. Married couples are more likely to "lock" the exit door or remove it as an option all together.
"Call me old fashioned," Larry R. explains, "but I believe you have to be married to be in a committed relationship. You're committing yourself to God and spouse."
Commitment is an investment. Commitment is a learned skill that needs to be practiced daily and refined as you grow together and separately. It will change and strengthen as the relationship grows.
Commitment is a choice. It says that in spite of all the other choices, options and opportunities that may present themselves, "I choose you."
"I think commitment shouldn't seem like it takes much effort. It should be something you want to work for. If it does feel like an effort, and the other person isn't responding, they probably aren't committed." Ryan C. added.
Nurturing Commitment With Your Partner
- Make the Relationship a Priority
Find common interests and build on them together. Take time out of each and every day to greet each other physically and personally. Make eye contact and heart contact.
- Connect During Conversation
Take a few moments every day to have some kind of verbal connection. Keep it up-beat, happy, inquisitive.
-Make Decisions Together
Get into the habit of realizing that you are no longer alone. You are part of a team and any decision that would affect your team mate should be discussed with him/her. You build trust and confidence when you plan future events, purchases and learn to compromise.
-Keep the Relationship Moving Forward
Be willing to try new things together. Create new memories, sign up for classes, revive conversation, find new ways to connect.
-Stay Focused on Your Partner's Strengths
Let your partner know all the things that you love and admire about him/her!
- Safe-Guard the Relationship
Limit outside intrusions. Don't put yourself in compromising positions. Never give your partner reason to doubt.
Commitment is a decision. The couples that choose to commit to each other are more likely to find the lasting rewards of deeper intimacy, trust, and loving companionship rather than by those who invest only half-heartedly.
Invest. Choose. Decide. Commit.