What is intimacy?

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Mr. Eliot LeBow, CDE, LCSW
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Some people equate sex with intimacy, but that is not true. Being intimate is the result of a variety of behaviors that cause the individual to be one with the other person, place or thing. It is a feeling of connectedness, and it indicates to an individual that they are safe and taken care of. You are not alone in this world.

Freud stated that after birth we spend a lifetime trying to get back into the womb. In the womb you don't just perform acts of intimacy, you actually feel it throughout your being. You can actually feel your mother's love as opposed to being shown her love. 

In the beginning of most couples' relationships, they start in a euphoric state called the honeymoon period. This period can last for a few days or go on for years. Regardless of how long the relationship lasts, it comes to an end, and you are left with reality. 

Now just a warning: Having a relationship is not easy. You have to work at keeping it fresh and alive through intimacy. Once again, you may have to work at the relationship so intimacy forms and builds. It is something you build upon over time. It takes effort to keep the spark alive. 

Without intimacy, relationships tend to lack feelings and emotions. With all the knowledge I have on intimacy, how could I have ended up in relationships that lacked intimacy when all of the signs pointed to it?

I held hands with my girlfriend as we walked down the sidewalks of Manhattan. I held my girlfriend while watching television and we even went on romantic vacations.

Well, holding hands is only a behavior! It is our perceptions that define our beliefs of each other’s motive for holding hands. Maybe for one or both partners, holding hands has become nothing more than routine. It is not the actual holding of each other’s hand that makes it an intimate act but the intent behind it. 

In the end, for intimacy to exist in a relationship (the connection that holds a relationship together), you both must want it over life’s distractions. Be willing to let your defenses drop and open your heart and mind to that special someone in your life. 

Dr. Kathleen Hall
Preventive Medicine
If you ask a hundred people the definition of intimacy, the majority would link intimacy with sexual behavior. Let's challenge ourselves to expand the definition of intimacy beyond the sexual context. Instead let's consider intimacy as closeness, familiarity, affection, understanding, and connection, not exclusively with others, but with ourselves primarily. Intimacy with ourselves is a significant and important first step, for it is impossible to have intimacy with another person if we don't have it with ourselves first.

Intimacy is primarily how you see into yourself. Secondarily, it is how others experience you. It is an act of great courage to intentionally want to see who you really are. It requires vulnerability and surrender to achieve intimacy. When you give yourself permission to see into yourself, what you find may allow you a deeper, more profound connection with yourself, with the Divine, and with others. Intimacy, like food and shelter, is one of our basic human needs.
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Themes like “I just don’t have time” and “I’m exhausted” rule our lives today. We are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed. Just getting done what must be done fills our days. The...

Intimacy is a precious state of relationship in which we feel safe enough to expose our whole selves, knowing that we will still be loved. The great challenge with intimacy is that to achieve it we must risk the possibility of rejection. Intimacy enables us to be more loving toward ourselves and our partners. Intimacy requires honesty. It means having the courage to share difficult feelings, needs, or problems; even if we are afraid this will scare our partner away. Holding back on honesty for fear that we will hurt the other almost always backfires. By not connecting with your partner, you also cheat our partner out of the opportunity to truly know you and to respond to you out of love. Just as fear breeds more fear, insecurity breeds more insecurity. Feeling safe means sensing that your partners feel secure about who they are—secure enough not to be threatened by your strengths or needs, or by their, your, or others sexuality.

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America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.