Are you in an intimate relationship? Would you like to be? If so, how do you define intimacy? In many cultures, the true meaning of intimacy has been distorted, equating it with sex. However, sex is not necessarily an essential component of intimacy. There is something else that is more vital, more foundational, and necessary.
One of the best definitions of intimacy is listening to another person’s disclosures and caring about their meaning to the other person’s growth. Intimacy is also caring enough to disclose yourself to others – making the effort and taking the risk involved in opening yourself up to another human being. A fundamental component of this is, of course, trust.
It is this mutual disclosure that enables us to share emotional closeness, and it is this mutual caring that provides a receptive climate for helping each other to make self-discoveries and to express our feelings and experiences in words. If we help each other to understand our individual meanings and feelings in this way, we are helping each other to grow and to find new ways of action and interaction that will lead to even greater growth.
There is also an intimacy that does not require words. In this kind of intimacy, we do not pretend to know the contents of the other’s thoughts, yet we share compassion and affirmation through silence, companionship, and gentle, respectful touch. Considering intimacy in this manner, let’s ask the questions again: Are you in an intimate relationship? Would you like to be?