So have you decided who you are? Since the last article, you have had some time to think deeply about this, to look at yourself through more mature eyes, perhaps, and make that decision. If you have accomplished the previous steps, Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry and Identity, you are ready for the next step, INTIMACY.
What in the world is intimacy any way. Many people think that intimacy is sex. In reality, sexuality is only one aspect of intimacy. The greater part is “in to me see.”
Let’s look at what the dictionary and the thesaurus has to say.
Dictionary: familiarity; something of a personal or private nature.
Thesaurus: closeness, familiarity, relationship
The Washington Times in the 7/7/99 issue states that intimacy “is better than sex and it’s more than just love. It’s a feeling, a closeness”. A legion of columnists, advice givers, therapists and pastors say society is starved for intimacy. In the been there, done that 90’s, people are sexually saturated, yet strangely disconnected. Intimacy even has a smell: Jasmine, Bulgarian rose, sandalwood and ylang ylang, as marketed by First Herb Shop. But its essence is strangely absent from day-to-day life.
In an interview with USA Today Weekend, Dr. Drew Pinsky, co-host of MTV’s “Loveline” sex-advice program, says young adults are unable to establish intimacy because they’re too into sexual thrills. “
But I wonder, Dr. Pinsky – if beyond the sexual thrills they desire, if they just aren’t adequately developed enough to share who they are – their thoughts and feelings.
So just wait a cotton-picking minute! How is it possible to really be intimate with another individual, if you don’t even know who you are to share with someone else? One has to have been able to climb the emotional development steps to truly be intimate with another individual!
Think about this, in the day and age in which we live, kids are having sex at a very young age, but are they really being intimate? Oh they may get naked, and they may even have intercourse, but this is only two bodies – not two hearts and two minds. Kids who are still in the phase of Identity (if they have managed to develop that far) do not yet know who they are and therefore are not being intimate.
So many people in this day and age, are ashamed or embarrassed about who they are. They have perhaps not been taught how to share their feelings, but only punished when they display their feelings in actions not suitable to their parents or teachers. “I feel angry, I feel sad, I feel lonely,” etc. Instead we scream and yell and throw punches when angry, we cry or withdraw when sad or we accuse others of not paying adequate attention to us when in actuality we are lonely.
Many marital partners accuse and blame each other for a myriad of things when they really should be saying “I am lonely for you.” Pointing the finger only asks for a fight, while taking responsibility for our feelings can call for a discussion, a compromise and more togetherness.
So how do we get to intimacy? We get there by climbing all previous developmental steps, even if we have to do so in middle or older age. We get there by finally determining who we are, what we are like, undoing what we don’t like about ourselves and then telling the truth about who we are to others with whom we desire relationship. In a marriage, it takes doing this on a regular basis – sharing our feelings and thoughts with our partner, and allowing them to ask questions and discover even more about us.
In our parenting lives, it is wise to teach our children to use their words to describe what they are feeling and why they are feeling it, rather than just allowing a temper tantrum or other poor behaviors. Doing so helps to set up our children to be able to identify and share their feelings with others close to them.
The sexual part of intimacy is a sharing of not just bodies, but also of thoughts and feelings. Young teens are usually not in the place to do this, and they have definitely not finished their emotional development. They are simply responding to what their friends are doing or to what their raging hormones might be dictating.
So ask yourself if you know how to be intimate – and with whom.