Redefine Your Couple’s Dynamic in Sexuality*
Intimacy and its Multiple Definitions
The concept has been defined in a multitude of different ways. Sometimes, it is used to describe two or more people having sexual activities together (e.g. «My husband and I were having an intimate moment last night»). It can also refer to someones nudity or private sexual activities such as masturbation (e.g. «I need my intimacy when I am changing in my room». «Masturbation is an intimate moment with ourselves»). It can even refer to genitalia (e.g. «Those are my intimate parts»).
What all of these have in common is self-disclosure or lack thereof. When we share a part of ourselves with another person we are self-disclosing who we are. There are various types and degrees of intimacy such as emotional, sexual, professional, etc. We can show our naked body, divulge sexual fantasies dreams preferences and also share our feelings towards another person. For most people, sexual intimacy is the hardest subject to disclose to someone else. Our sexuality is at the core of our personality as it shows our deepest fears, our strengths and vulnerability to truly demonstrate who we are as a person.
What Intimacy is NOT!
There is a misconception in our society that intimacy is always fun, romantic and loving between partners. This is untrue! The more we get to know our partner, we start realizing that they do not only have good qualities and strengths, but also limits, quirks, vulnerabilities, emotional issues and sexual issues, etc. As much as we would want to believe that we love each and every part of our partner, we don’t. Well, not in a long term relationship anyway. In fact, in short-term relationships we can’t really know our partner because we haven’t been with them long enough. We project and imagine who this person is, without knowing who they truly are in reality.
Over the course of a relationship, people will change as well. We are not static and immobile as people. We think, we evolve and change our minds. We change our minds as a matter of fact quite frequently. Therefore, intimacy is not only sharing a special moment where partners connect on a positive and profound level. It’s also getting to know our partner on levels that we don’t necessarily appreciate, agree with or that validate our own perception of sex. Intimacy is also telling our partner when sex wasn’t that good or that we don’t desire them sexually anymore or we don’t appreciate the way they touch and seduce us.
It is inevitable that we will find differences in the long run between ourselves and our partner. Sometimes these differences are just annoying; we can also hate them, find them to be a nuisance which interferes with our happiness in the couple and even reconsider if we still want to be with this person. It’s impossible to find a partner that we get along with on everything we share together. Our sexual preferences, the type of sex we want, our sexual fantasies, the way we flirt and initiate sex may not align perfectly with our partners sexuality.
This will inevitably bring conflicts in our relationships, which brings us to the choice to go through or avoid it entirely.This is where intimacy comes into play in couples. People who don’t have a strong «4 points of balance» will perceive differences as threats to the stability of their couple. Partners will start avoiding self-disclosure to prevent feelings of rejection from the other partner or avoid hurting them.
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* Inspired by the book Intimacy and Desire from David Schnarch