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  • Writer's pictureJames Annear

What Does It Mean to Have Intimacy in a Relationship?

By James Annear, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

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PLEASE NOTE:

THIS ARTICLE WAS NOT WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR BETRAYED PARTNERS. RATHER, IT WAS WRITTEN FOR THE WEBSITE NOTED ABOVE, AND ADDRESSES COMMUNICATION ISSUES WITH WHICH MANY COUPLES, NOT NECESSARILY IMPACTED BY BETRAYAL, STRUGGLE.

THUS, WHILE THERE MAY BE HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR YOU, THERE MAY BE SOME CONTENT THAT MAY BE TRAUMA TRIGGERING AND/OR THAT MAY NOT FIT YOUR NEEDS AS A BETRAYED PARTNER, NOR WHERE YOU AND YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER ARE IN YOUR RECOVERY AS A COUPLE.


In This Article:

  • What is the definition of intimacy?

  • What is intimacy in a relationship?

  • Does intimacy mean – LOVE?

  • What is a mature, or maturing, relationship?


Nearly 80% of respondents will say ‘sex’ is the answer to the question, ‘what is real intimacy?’


And, why not? Intimacy and sex have been synonymous, at least popularly, for decades; Questions you might get after a date usually contain at least one version of, “did you get intimate?” Even therapists ask the same question to their clients, “how long since you’ve been intimate?”


It’s no wonder that practically everyone uses the two words interchangeably!


What is the definition of intimacy?


The misrepresentation of the word ‘intimacy’, often leads to confusion or, at the least, misinterpretation when someone uses the word “intimacy” in its true context. Worse, the real definition of intimacy is buried as some secondary meaning in our brains, if it is known at all. That is our brain for you – it learns through repetition.


Communication, togetherness, affection, confidence, friendship, familiarity, commonality, understanding, acquaintance, affinity, communion, close relationship are synonyms found under a few online thesaurus resources.

Sex is not listed as a synonym.


The dictionary defines intimacy as, “A close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship.”


Another word, “communion” can be used as a synonym of intimacy. There is something sacred and over-riding about that word. It indicates a certain primacy and can aptly describe what is real intimacy.


Does intimacy mean – LOVE?


Intimacy is not exclusive to romantic relationships.


For any relationship between two people, or one person and a group, to be deeply meaningful, intimacy must exist. Now, for the purpose of the context which addresses intimacy in a marriage, the definition of intimacy is limited to a committed intimate relationship between couples.


What is intimacy in a relationship?


“Intimacy occurs between two people where there is a jointly-agreed primacy of desire to draw closer together – to deeply connect – through

mutual vulnerability: the sharing of facts, feelings, and understanding,

fueled by empathy and compassion”

- James Annear

(From draft of: It's Not The Penis, it's the We-ness)


Sex is a part of intimacy. However, it’s just one of the culminations of a whole lot of other intimate relationship activities – one that can, if other levels of intimacy are consistently present in the relationship, further the depth of connection.

After all, if your relationship is marked by a lack of intimacy, sex is, eventually, likely going to be rather empty and unfulfilling.


So, how important is intimacy in a relationship? The above statement just answered this question In fact, nobody reading this article entered their committed relationship to be alone.


Usually, each partner has the rightful expectation that their feeling of connection will grow. Though some may want or understand, that more than others. But getting married isn’t supposed to be the culmination of connection and intimacy.

So, what does it mean to have intimacy in relationships? Well! Romantic relationships are supposed to be the beginning of a long, beautiful, connective journey that will surely have its potholes and pitfalls which required negotiation together.


Sadly, the marriage ceremony and honeymoon seem to be the highlight of most committed relationships.


Is that what anyone really wants? Then, why is the divorce rate in the U.S. over 50%? Did anyone of those divorced couples enter their relationship with the expectation or hope that it would be over before the end of their lives? That it would be over so prematurely?


What is a mature, or maturing, relationship?


One marked by intimacy – connection, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion – that deepens over time. Maybe there are bumps and plateaus but the intimacy progresses as each person partners with the other and collaborates to work through those times together.


A commitment, by each partner, to true intimacy does take work


A commitment to intimacy is well worth every ounce of energy put into it. So, a lifetime of connection and deep love can only result in laying down the foundation for a solid and lasting relationship.





References

https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/


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