Intimacy is tough. Letting somebody close to you in any form, be it spiritually, emotionally, or physically, is not easy. There are incredible benefits. There are also the incredible hurdles of confidence, memories, and norms. This is compounded by apparent missteps when we are intimate with others. I've struggled with this for years, and will continue to do so. Right now I would love to share some insights I've had.
Intimacy begins with yourself. A wise friend shared with me the thought “To be truly intimate with anyone we must be comfortable with ourselves”. This is so true. Work on your relation with yourself. Progress in personal intimacy will benefit your intimate relations with others. I really struggle with this point, and I often have to tell myself to put aside thoughts and emotions that defeat my intimate relating to the world.
Intimacy is a social and interpersonal skill. Intimacy can be practiced, and with appropriate repetition, the experience of intimacy is bettered. One misstep in the pursuit intimacy is normal. Heck, a whole series of steps is normal too. Stumbling intimacy may remove the possibility of being intimate with one person, but there are so many more people in the world. Considering the ways to be intimate, and the number of people available to you, there are so many ways to practice intimacy. You will improve. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There are some that seem to have the whole intimacy down pat. They strut and swagger on the social scene, intimate with so many people. Know that these people have practiced intimacy for a very long time. They most likely have a history with the people they are hitting it off with so well. The intimate high-fliers tend to also be confident people, intimate with themselves. Absolutely NONE of this impacts your success. It is human nature to look to the successfully intimate people and think “oh poor me, I'll just quit while I'm behind”. Don't do that. Your success with intimacy is your journey. We are all different. We are all intimate in different ways, and you are challenged to find your happy intimate place.
There are tools that can teach you about intimacy in a way that is paced and relatively safe. I learned a lot when I attended massage therapy school. It did “ruin” social flirtatious massages, but I think I needed that anyway. I needed to learn that the physical was only one route to being intimate with a person. Therapeutic massage is an intensely intimate act. There is a strong physical aspect, but it is removed from the sexual side of physical intimacy. I'll save that stuff for another blogging effort. Another tool I use now is social dancing. I get to interact with SO MANY PEOPLE on so many levels of intimacy. Do you struggle with intimacy? Check out social dancing. Are you already doing social dancing and still struggle with intimacy? Be more social about it! Ask others to dance. Accept dances from people who you would normally shy away from. By all means, look around for your own ways to engage people in acts of intimacy.
Intimacy is a human right. You are meant to be intimate with others. You are allowed to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically close to others. The forms of intimacy will differ from person to person. Our connections with the world are so varied, and so will your intimacies. Be intimate with yourself, practice it as skill, know that you can be as good as others, and use the tools that increase your fluency in intimacy. Your life will be better for it.