People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them and their response is “you’re safe with me” – that’s intimacy.
Little known fact about me: I make my “New Year’s Resolutions” on my birthday.
I mean, my birthday is but 4 days from the beginning of a new year, so it’s not like it’s that far off. But I like to think of reflecting back on the past year and setting some new goals for the future as a type of rebirth – a reset on this journey to become more authentic and healthy.
But this year, although I do have a few objectives I’d like to hit (that mostly pertain to health, finances, and pursing my passions…like writing in this blog more regularly), my main aim this year is to become even more intentional at cultivating deeper intimacy in my established relationships.
Before I get into that, let me state that I feel like I connect with people in 4 different ways:
- Sexually/Sensually – This connection is all about the touch. (I do feel the need to remind someone out there that not all touch is sexual, or even sensual – I also love platonic touch). This connection also doesn’t mean just the physical act of penetration – even though that’s fun, there’s much more to this with me. Sex is more than just penetration. And I believe in sensual, non-sexual touch as well; which, to me, is touching for the purpose of simple pleasure with no sexual intent behind it.
- Intellectually – I enjoy debating different subjects and learning with the person I’m talking to – bouncing ideas and creative solutions off of each other, teasing out the nuance of a topic, parsing out opposing views and their merits.
- Emotionally – getting intimate with someone in terms of my inner world – letting them see my private thoughts, dreams, demons, insecurities while figuring out what theirs are and how it shapes them into the person they are. Getting into each other’s core beliefs and how it translates to our specific world view. Trying to understand why they act and react the way they do. Supporting them, and they me, in down times, encouraging in low moments, and celebrating the high points – because you know *exactly* how to do that since you have taken the time to travel their inner emotional landscape.
- Romantically – This one is a bit harder for me to describe because I think “romance” can be surface level or have some history and depth behind it. I know what romance feels like, for me, but I can’t adequately describe that feeling. How it feels like time stands still when you look at them sometimes, or how they make you blush with a little gesture. It’s that desire to look into their eyes forever (this is a big thing for me), hold their hand and massage it lightly, cherish them in the moment. Now, I do “traditionally romantic” things with platonic friends that I have deep emotional connections with (i.e. give each other flowers, write little notes, hold hands, etc), but it somehow feels differently with those I feel romantic with (whether or not I feel sexual desire with that person). The energy is more charged. But I feel it’s more than just limerance (or NRE, New Relationship Energy) because with me, the feeling can last years, crop up in the middle of a previously platonic friendship, or come and go in waves.
I can have any variation of these types of connection with someone – only one, or some, or all. I have had people that I have sex with that I’m emotionally tied to, but I don’t share romantic feelings with. And I have had people who I have romantic and emotional feels for but not sexual ones. You get the picture.
I find that it is easy for me to foster sexual/sensual and intellectual connections with people. I open up quickly in those areas, probably because it doesn’t feel as scary as the other two. I don’t need to fully trust someone for those things – I have my own precautions and risk mitigations for sexy things, and I don’t get too upset over a difference of opinion on matters that aren’t related to human rights and social justice.
But opening up emotionally? Allowing myself to bask in romantic feelings? That shit is terrifying, because I don’t like trusting people. I barely trust myself.
Is it because I’m a perfectionist? Although I know that everyone is perfectly, wonderfully flawed – except me, my flaws are not perfect nor wonderful and I don’t want to be put on a pedestal only to fall to my death, once again. Is it because I’ve had too many people close to me use what I’ve said and done during those intimate moments against me? Is it because I am absolutely convinced (as I told a partner just a few days ago) that everyone dislikes or just tolerates me, and I’m so stunned when a few people seem to actually like me that I fear them getting any closer to me would cause them to realize I’m not worth their time and energy? Is it because, as much as I crave someone to comfort me, I loathe the look of pity that flashes across some people’s eyes?
Yeah, it’s all this plus more. I really, really don’t like being vulnerable because it makes me feel small and insecure. I don’t mind feeling a bit scared, because the unknown is scary, but I do not like feeling unsafe. It’s why my friend circle is so small (#nonewfriends), and I’m open to casual non-platonic relationships. It takes a very long time for me to build up enough trust that I feel safe revealing myself to someone to foster a deeper connection.
At times, folks connect with me on various levels and begin opening up to me. I start to reach out to them…but then withdraw before diving into the depths. This pattern of my behavior causes me to feel both lonely in that relationship and like I’m doing a disservice to the other person because they don’t get to see me with my guard down. But there’s always something, one factor, one tiny indication that I may end up not liking the result, the reaction after I pour out my heart and soul. So I don’t.
My goal this coming year is to allow myself to step forward and not back. To say what’s on my mind and heart instead of analyzing it until there’s nothing I want to share. It’s going to be difficult, but I have quite a few relationships that I wish had more emotional intimacy and the only way to obtain that is to open myself up to the possibility of hurt in pursuit of something truly remarkable.
I think I can do that now. And I think…that this time, I just might not be harmed.
Cuz this time, I’ve been shown that it is possible.