Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Sex and intimacy, aren’t they the same thing?
The short answer is no.
Our sex-saturated culture would have you believe that sex and intimacy are interchangeable terms. However, the truth is without intimacy, sex is just sexual activity. Intimacy transforms sex into great sex via sexual intimacy. To cultivate sexual intimacy, you must first foster emotional intimacy.
Intimacy, or “into-me-see,” as it is often called, requires an astounding amount of vulnerability. You must be willing to drop your carefully crafted guards and show yourself to your partner. Adam and Eve being naked and unashamed in the Garden of Eden are the picture of intimacy. It is about more than not being embarrassed about their bodies. It is about them sharing the fullness of themselves without fear of judgment or rejection. Suppose you want to cultivate this type of intimacy. In that case, you must be willing to temporarily set aside your personal need(s) and plans and make yourself a safe place for your partner to be vulnerable.
Foundational Traits to Foster Intimacy:
· Trustworthiness – Never share your partner’s story. It is his/hers to tell.
· Humility – Never forget, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Your partner doesn’t need judgment or criticism; he/she needs understanding and acceptance.
· Love – Place your partner’s vulnerability and need for empathy above your need(s) or agenda, i.e., place his/her need(s) above your own.
· Respect – Honor your partner’s experience. His/her journey has helped to shape him/her into the person that you love.
Foundational Skills to Cultivate Intimacy:
· Authentic communication – Communication is more than the transmission of information.
o Listen to your partner without judgment or an agenda.
o Demonstrate active listening, i.e., receive your partner’s message(s), ask clarifying questions to deepen your understanding, and share what you hear him/her saying, allowing him/her to correct any misunderstandings.
o When sharing, speak for your heart to be heard, not to create distance or confusion, i.e., do not deflect or project your rejection of a part of yourself onto your partner. Share your hopes/dreams/desires/pain/shame.
o When your partner asks clarifying questions, receive them as attempts to understand you, not judge you. Do not be defensive.
Contact me for guidance on your journey to intimacy.
Angela W. Startz, MAHSC, CCLC