Why Intimacy Is Vital to Relational Well-Being

What is Intimacy?
Many of us have heard intimacy referred to as Into-Me-See. I would say that statement is accurate. I have found that in order to experience true intimacy, both people in the relationship (no matter what kind of relationship it is) need to be willing to have open, honest communication. They both need to be able to safely share who they are, what they have experienced, what is important to them, how their life journey has impacted who they have grown to be, their needs, their fears, challenges, etc. Intimacy requires both parties to be vulnerable, and even a bit uncomfortable at times in order to learn each other better, and reap the benefits of an intimate inter-connected experience. Understanding, respect, and mutual support of each other is imperative in creating closeness and trust that intimacy brings.
What Does Intimacy Allow?
Intimacy allows the sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences openly, without shame or backlash. This closeness helps the sharer to feel safe emotionally, knowing that what they have shared with the receiver will not be weaponized against them. Genuine intimacy allows the sharer leave knowing that they have been heard, understood, and assured that going forward the receiver is willing to do their best to accomodate the sharer’s individualized needs, and keep what has been shared, confidential. Trust is built as a result.
What Happens in a Relationship That Lacks Intimacy?
In a relationship where the sharer goes unheard, or their needs go unconsidered, this works to shut down open and honest dialogue. The inability to share something important to someone important, sends the message that the sharer is not important. Even more, if the hearer/receiver takes what the sharer says personally, that communicates to the sharer that their thoughts, feelings, and experiences are offensive, and not safe to be shared with them. When a person is not open to honest communication within their relationship, it trains the people in relationship with them to hide/suppress their truth, and only speak about what the closed off receiver deems acceptable. This dynamic kills relational intimacy. It causes the sharer to feel wrong for having thoughts, feelings, and that differ from the receiver’s. So, in order to continue in a relationship without intimacy, one must resort to denying and lying about what they are really experiencing internally just to “keep the peace”. This lack of intimacy can be detrimental to one’s overall well-being and self worth. It tends to have a draining and depressing effect on the human being. Zapping their joy and motivation. This effect greatly restricts one’s ability to be at their best and achieve their goals. It leaves a person’s love tank empty, so they are running on fumes, and abandoning their need for meaningful connection in their relationship/s.
Why Do People Accept Little to No Intimacy?
When a person continues in an emotionally unfulfilling relationship, it usually signifies that they have exchanged their need for intimacy with something else they deem important. That something else could take the form of upholding a certain image, wanting to avoid being seen as a failure, the children involved, monetary reasons, a warm body to snuggle with, the need to be needed, a cover for unhealed trauma, or many other things. All of which are poor reasons to allow ourselves to be devalued and dishonored by someone we hold near and dear to our heart. The lack of intimacy is most times tolerated because although it causes relational distance, it often allows for other needs to be met that would otherwise go unfulfilled if the person were to redefine or release that relationship. Not always, but I find that it is common in romantic relationships for women to trade their need for emotional intimacy to secure financial provision. Also, but again not always, I notice men tend to sacrifice being respected and honored for the benefit of regular sex. Therefore, settling into a relational cycle of silent suffering and unfulfillment, in exchange for crumbs. These relationships become more like business partnerships, making regular transactions, than actual loving connections. Sadly, many people grow old and die this way, never experiencing the fullness of love, respect, and trust that true intimacy brings out of fear of the unknown. The question is, will you?

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