Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is intimate?

Intimacy is a tricky thing. It makes us feel vulnerable and maybe a little uncomfortable. But when it's right, intimacy can also strengthen our connection, and build a better relationship.

People who are dating almost always have a way to avoid intimacy until they feel good and ready. I've mentioned before that I know a guy who actually avoids kissing because it's too intimate. He doesn't avoid sex, or talking about his feelings, or disclosing personal facts. He'll even let a woman stay in his apartment while he runs errands. But kissing? Too much for him.

Generally speaking, having to chase
someone is a bad sign in dating.
I know another guy who is the exact opposite. Loves to kiss and is very affectionate. But he won't even leave a woman alone in his kitchen, or discuss basic facts about his family or work, let alone share any of his feelings, until well into a relationship.

Those are extreme scenarios; those guys have elevated avoiding intimacy to an art form. Most people I know have far less-carefully constructed defenses to keep intimacy at bay.

For most parents, meeting their kids is when they're most vulnerable, and therefore that's probably the most intimate thing a parent can share. Most parents I know hold off on that introduction until they're really sure of the relationship. So, if you're getting an audience with Junior, you know you're in.

For many, it's a question of sharing your true feelings - what you really want, need, and what scares you about a relationship.

For me personally, it's letting someone into the rest of my life. I think of myself as a barrier between different parts of my life. Work doesn't touch home, family doesn't touch friends, etc. When I let them overlap, it's a sign I feel comfortable. So if I let a date meet my friends, see my house, or even see me at my not-quite-best, it's me letting down my defenses.

So what does this all mean? For starters, I guess it means you need to be aware of your own intimacy hang-ups. What's OK and what isn't, for you?

It also means you need to acknowledge that everyone is different. Just because a guy isn't affectionate doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't have feelings - and just because a person invites you to her home doesn't mean she does, either.

So, what's a single gal (or guy) to do?


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