9 Intimacies 7:20 PM

The word, "intimate" has long been defined by the act of intercourse, and while romance and sex are indeed an important part of intimacy, they are only a very small portion of it. The actual definition of intimacy should read, "a warm relationship between lovers that is characterized by a relaxed informality, deep understanding, vulnerability, shared empathy, and the need to be close. Other definitions may also choose to include the word 'soulmate' as a means to describe the extent of such a connection.

What is intimacy, exactly? Here's some relationship advice in the form of nine pieces of the puzzle, which, when combined, comprise the truest form of intimacy a couple could ever achieve:

Emotional Connection- To connect emotionally, a couple must know how to communicate effectively, expressing everything from their goals and dreams to their fears and regrets. Such communication should include both verbal and non-verbal (hugging, cuddling, touching) cues of expression.

Spiritual Connection- A spiritual connection between partners is considered a sacred bond between body and soul. Each partner involved is aware of who they are, who their partner is, and the sacred life force which has been created by their union.

Relaxed Informality- Intimacy is not only reserved for lovers, but also our closest friends and family. These are the people we feel relaxed around, and with whom we can be ourselves. If you are hiding your true self out of fear of not being loved for who you are, you have already sabotaged your chance of intimacy.

Deep Understanding- We are never afraid to tell those who we are intimate with, how we really feel. This is because we know they will understand where we are coming from, taking a position of understanding, rather than defense.

Trust- When a person gives themselves to someone, they are putting their trust in that person not to hurt them. While this is a risk, it's also the only way to truly open yourself to the possibility of true love, intimacy, and the ability to heal all past, failed attempts at love.

Familiarity- The intimate couple should feel like that favorite pair of jeans in your closet that are so worn from use, they could almost disintegrate. They fit perfectly, look great, feel fantastic, and you could find them blindfolded in a room full of other jeans if you had to.

Vulnerability- Intimacy is about allowing our partner a front row seat to the story of our lives. It is an unspoken promise that you will remain open to your partner, sharing your most intimate, closely guarded secrets, and in return, they will hold these secrets as dear as their own.

Shared Empathy- This is a couples ability to know each other so well, they almost sense how each other feels. A partner can walk into a room, and without even saying a word, the other will know if something is wrong. This maybe as close to a true soulmate as most of us will ever come.

The Need to be Close- The need for a couple to be together all the time can be characterized by an unhealthy distrust in the relationship. In this case, however, it's not that they are afraid to be apart out of fear of losing each other, but out of the desire to share as much of their life together as possible.

The next time you and your partner discuss intimacy, don't forget that its origins go far deeper than sex. It is unfortunate that many couples fail to understand that true intimacy is a slowly developed process, intertwined by the mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Those who know this kind of intimacy, know pleasure far beyond the fleeting moments of passion between the sheets!

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