Physical and emotional intimacy

What is intimacy?

Intimacy is best described as the closeness between individuals at a physical or an emotional level. For example, an intimate act might be the physical contact that comes about when cleaning someone or even gently brushing their hair. At a physical level, intimacy also includes sexual contact, although, for something to be intimate, it does not necessarily need to be sexual. At the emotional level, intimacy means a certain closeness of spirit. Again, this could be platonic, such as the intimacy and trust shared between friends, or the sort of intimacy that comes from a sexual partnership.

 What is intimacy in a relationship?

 Although intimacy can be achieved outside of a relationship between people, it tends to grow when two – or more – people know each other better as a result of a long-term relationship. As such, it can still be something that is both emotional and physical. Indeed, the intimate nature of a typical long-term relationship means that both will become mixed and the lines between what is an emotional bond and a physical one become blurred. For some, an intimate relationship and the passion that often goes with it is what defines romantic notions of love as compared to other ideas about it, such as fraternal love, for example.

How can you create more intimacy with others?

One of the key factors in being more intimate is simply spending time with others. Social bonding is known to be a big part of intimate behaviour, which is why new parents are encouraged to spend time with their newborn baby, for example. For adults who wish to be more intimate, it is a question of taking small steps that build trust slowly. Respect for the person you want to be intimate with is paramount. In terms of sexual intimacy, something as simple as holding hands is a good first step before taking things any further.

Why is intimacy scary?

Being intimate can feel scary because it involves a degree of trust with someone else. If you have problems surrounding trust or have been hurt in an intimate manner in the past, then this fear is perfectly understandable. Anyone who has suffered from a controlling family member or partner can feel anxiety when intimate issues crop up. Poor mental health can also have a negative impact. Psychological and spiritual help is available that can assist in such situations which may help with coping with greater intimacy.

Can intimacy be restored?

After a breach of trust - such as an affair, for instance – restoring an intimate relationship can be tough. Although it is not impossible to restore intimate feelings, the restoration of trust must come first since the two aspects of life are linked to one another so strongly. The ability to talk openly and being patient are two essential traits to keep in mind.

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