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Posted January 5, Reviewed by Kaja Perina.
The word intimate refers to your private and essential being. Usually, people think it means sharing personal information or having sex.
Real intimacy is far more. It makes us feel content, empowered, whole, peaceful, alive, and happy. It transforms and nurtures us. Physical closeness, sex, and romance are important to a relationship, but emotional intimacy revitalizes and enlivens it.
Often, the lack of intimacy is the reason partners feel emotionally abandoned and lose interest or desire for sex leading to "inhibited sexual desire. Intimacy requires trust and safety to feel free enough to let go and be yourself. Here are the necessary ingredients for intimacy:. Self-esteem allows you to be open and direct. The greater your self-esteem is, paradoxically, the more you can be separate and autonomous and in turn, the greater is your capacity for closeness and intimacy.
In fact, there are levels of intimacy. At the first level, you share information about yourself. It may be facts that you consider private or things only your family knows. Many people attach to strangers quickly. They yearn to merge in order to feel whole with the hopes that a relationship will boost their self-esteem and bring them happiness. Most people confuse sharing and becoming attached with love and real intimacy.
Most people consider this very intimate, and at this level of intimacy — or sooner — couples often start having sex. Sex at this level may not make you feel closer and can be used to avoid intimacy. Instead of feeling safe and close afterward, you can feel emptier than before. True intimacy requires trust that comes with knowing the other person.
You might tell a stranger on a plane all about yourself, but not reveal what you think about them or yourself, which is a higher level of intimacy. This is very intimate for most people but still lacks some elements of real intimacy. For instance, you could say that you feel proud, guilty, or embarrassed about something.
Sometimes, people share negative facts and feelings about themselves when first meeting or dating someone. In some relationships, one person is the listener and the other shares feelings about a problem. It lacks mutuality and has been called pseudo-intimacy. True intimacy requires an authenticity that involves being honest in the moment. Connecting with raw and honest feelings in the moment requires presence and awareness. You need self-esteem to feel secure about yourself, which allows you to be genuine without fear of being judged or rejected. It requires courage, especially when you reveal something that might alienate the other person.
It has the opposite effect unless you want to end the relationship. People know that they can trust your honesty and your relationships deepen. In summary, intimate conversations vary in their level of intimacy, but the deepest ones require:. Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, is a d marriage and family therapist and an expert and author on relationships and codependency. Relationships Are You Missing Intimacy? Learn four levels of intimacy. Relationships Essential Re. About the Author.
Online: www. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help.
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Intimate Relationships & Marriage