Intimacy: Stepping Into the Discussion

My dear friend Pixie Girl of Exploring Pixie wrote not too long ago on Dave’s Normal Deviations blog about Dave’s Hypothesis on intimacy: namely, that ‘true intimacy is reflected by how much or little you are concerned about being politically or socially correct when you talk to a person.’

Now Dave and Pixie are two of the most analytical truth-searchers I know, and they both love a good discussion with as many meaningful inputs as possible, so when I posted a comment a few weeks ago saying that I would like to engage in the discussion and would come back to it, I was unsurprised that they both encouraged me to do so.

So, I return at last to the conversation. What does intimacy mean to me, and how can one distil it into a few words as Dave has attempted to? I agree with much of what Pixie has said, but to encapsulate it for myself I would say that ‘True intimacy stems from trust, open communication, the ability to make oneself vulnerable, respect, and reciprocity. It is reflected in a feeling of being fully accepted just as you are, and how much or little you are concerned about being judged on any level or across any topic when you talk to a person.’ I feel that this statement generally holds true for me across intellectual, emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships, and I feel that Dave’s Hypothesis is only one aspect of that – and certainly is also true within intimate engagements. I also think that intimacy can exist within a group, not just between two individuals: and this is why support groups can become extremely intimate, safe spaces. I also think that Pixie’s point about conflict is important: an intimate relationship can grow through periods of conflict, and is not destroyed but deepened by this. However, I do not think conflict a precondition for knowledge, which can also be achieved through open communication and support through life’s challenges.

I would agree with Dave that intimacy is not necessarily required for friendship, because friendships come in many guises, and some of our friendships will be much closer to the surface of ourselves and our lives than others. I think the rare friends with whom we can be truly ourselves, and feel safe enough to state our true opinions and emotions, are the gems in our lives that always hold a very special place in our hearts: and thank you Pixie for being one of those intimate jewels in my life.

***

P.s: based on Peter’s wise comment below, I have redrafted my definition as follows: ‘Intimacy stems from trust, open communication, the ability to make oneself vulnerable, respect, and reciprocity. It is reflected in a feeling of being fully known, and accepted just as you are, as well as how much or little you are concerned about being judged on any level or across any topic when you talk to a person.’

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5 thoughts on “Intimacy: Stepping Into the Discussion

  1. I agree that intimacy is based on “being accepted just as you are” which is a beautiful idea, but more obscurely, possibly, on knowing who you are, which some of us struggle to do at a profound level. Self and shared knowledge are a bit like deep sea diving, and getting friendly with some of the weird creatures you find down there can take a little acclimatisation !

    1. Ah, Peter, you are both profound and amusing as always – you have a very unique gift in combining the two in ways that detract from neither. I re-draft as follows: ‘Intimacy stems from trust, open communication, the ability to make oneself vulnerable, respect, and reciprocity. It is reflected in a feeling of being fully known, and accepted just as you are, as well as how much or little you are concerned about being judged on any level or across any topic when you talk to a person.’

      1. P.p.s. I feel there are two levels to your comment: self-knowledge, and being known by another. I have chosen to focus on a sense of being known by the other, but wanted to acknowledge the two. I think there are many shades within both.

  2. I’m happy to see you finally responded in-depth. 🙂

    This makes me suspect (more than before, I mean ) that part of this is a vocab issue. My tendency to choose words carefully (sometimes more than I should) focused in on one: reflect.

    So… with that, the thing that I didn’t convey well is that with that intimacy, it manifests in certain ways. That it’s a good gauge – for me – of how reciprocal intimacy is when it’s me and another (or others). If we’re both relaxed about social/political correctness, it’s a way of saying, “ah ha! There is a good level of intimacy there.” – which is answering the internal (for me) question whether that intimacy exists… or not.

    I totally agree with what you (and P) have said about where intimacy stems from. Absolutely, 100%. My puzzle is how to identify it exists in a way that (my nature) can have a test for validity.

    (go ahead, call me an emotionless robot – or wait for P to say it…)

    😉

  3. I really like your qualification of the theory. Especially the reciprocity – an obvious but necessary addition.
    But I will still claim that some sort of conflict is unavoidable if it’s to be very deep intimacy – because that means tackling some internal demons and those rarely give up without fighting!

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