Have you ever asked yourself which kind of intimacy you are living? Many people often connect intimacy with sex. However, there are completely different forms of intimacy that are important for a relationship. Especially when you would like to create extraordinary relationship rather than ordinary relationship, it is essential that you build an awareness of how you can create intimacy on different levels. Nourishing intimacy is an essential key for a lasting relationship and the degree of fulfillment of this relationship.
You might already have experienced it yourself or seen it with couples in your environment that the level of intimacy can easily fade over time in the hectic of daily life. Suddenly there are a lot of logistical things to discuss that narrow the space for intimacy more and more (especially when you only meet your partner after work late in the evening and probably have children around that call for your attention). Getting lost in logistical things is a very common, unconscious way to avoid intimacy. If you are not attentive and do not consciously create spaces for intimacy then it might happen that you are still having a good time with your partner, but that you are rather living in a shared flat than being in intimate relationship.
There are many possibilities or unconscious behaviors in order to avoid intimacy in relationship:
- You oftentimes work so long in the evening that you come home tired and worn out and just want to sleep.
- There are constantly things to be done at home and you keep telling yourself the story that you can only dedicate time to intimacy when everything has been done.
- You get lost – as mentioned above – in the clarification of logistical details.
- You cannot hold the intensity of intimacy and always have a funny sentence at hand to destroy intimate moments or not even let them arise.
- You might have a concept of intimacy – i. e. how intimacy has to be or occur – and therefore miss the numerous other doors to intimacy that open up.
- You only share on a very superficial level.
Consciously write down, how you avoid or destroy intimacy. By admitting it and writing it down you start becoming more and more aware of it and can observe yourself doing it in daily life (this might also refer to the relationship with friends or your family).
You might already have heard the sentence „Relationships do not die from lack of love, but from lack of intimacy“. Let’s therefore have a look which kinds of intimacy actually exist and how you can create spaces for that.
Take into consideration that there is not only the physical kind of intimacy that most people know. Kissing, touching, sex, all this is just a little part of one kind of intimacy. Next to the physical body, we have other bodies that get nourished by a certain kind of intimacy.
Four Body Intimacies
On the one hand we have the physical body, which consists of bones, muscles and organs that have sensations. The intellectual body is the second body that is also known to people. It consists of the mind with its thoughts. These two bodies are usually very present. We nourish the physical body with tasty food, fresh air and also a little bit of sports, while we feed the intellectually body through conversations, reading books, going to the theater or else. The emotional and energetic bodies are hardly considered in modern society so that most people have only little knowledge about the fact that these two bodies are fed in a relationship through a certain kind of intimacy. The emotional body includes the emotional heart with its feelings. The energetic body refers to the being that has presence, purpose and vision. It is of course possible that you feed theses four bodies by yourself. However, if you are in relationship with another person, then these four bodies get a different meaning.
The interesting question is, in which way intimacy is expressed in the four bodies. Here are some examples:
- PHYSICAL INTIMACY:
Physical intimacy with your partner is expressed through sex, singing together, eating, doing the dishes, walking hand in hand, sauna, sports (such as cycling, tennis, skiing, swimming, etc.), dancing, massaging, cuddling together on the couch, combing the hair of your partner, brushing their teeth, taking a bath together, travelling, playing with the children, gardening, redecorating the house or apartment, etc.
- INTELLECTUAL INTIMACY:
Intellectual intimacy shows in speaking with each other, discussing, philosophizing, writing poetry, doing a project together, designing, learning together (such as languages), visiting the opera, theater, concerts, movies, reading articles out loud, telling stories, humor, sharing memories, making plans together and so on.
- EMOTIONAL INTIMACY:
Emotional intimacy happens, when you experience and express your feeling with 100% trust (e. g. by saying „I feel angry, scared, sad, joy, because…“), vulnerability, openness, acceptance, deep listening without discussion, revealing wounds, making contact, warmth, sharing compassion, generosity, weakness, passion, and so on.
- ENERGETIC INTIMACY:
Energetic intimacy is expressed by being present, being with each other, doing rituals together or meditating together, appreciating each other, moving together in the speed of love, by respect, community, growth, development, etc.
These four kinds of intimacy do not necessarily happen separate from each other, but are often times connected. You can for example walk hand in hand with your partner and at the same time make plans or share your feelings.
So that your relationship can be fulfilling over a longer period of time, it is necessary that you pay attention to live these four kinds of intimacy.
Your purpose and your attentiveness are crucial
Yet, intimacy is delicate. Your purpose and your attentiveness are determining whether you use these four kinds of intimacy to create ordinary or extraordinary relationship.
If for example you play tennis with your partner (physical intimacy), but the match is a fight about who is going to win then you destroy intimacy, because it is about who is better. There is no being with anymore. The same happens when you are having sex with your partner hoping that you will get some love in return. This does not support the relationship, because you act out of neediness. If your purpose is instead to be with each other, to experiment and research then a gate to fulfilling physical intimacy opens up.
If you are ongoingly discussing and arguing with your partner, sticking to a position and trying to be right, then you destroy intimacy. Is it instead a common exchange of information or are you creatively making plans together (e. g. for a journey) so that each of you can bring themselves in, then you create intellectual intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is also challenging. If you act out of irresponsible feelings or emotions and you find yourself being stuck in a drama of e. g. irresponsible (victim-) sadness or attacking (persecutor-) anger then this has nothing to do with emotional intimacy. Then you are in so called low drama, where it is about blaming, whining or justification. Low drama destroys intimacy, because your trigger each other on an emotional level.
By the way, it is not very useful if you keep creating or joining certain things of physical, intellectual, emotional or energetic intimacy just because your partner likes these, because then you behave adaptive (e. g. when you regularly watch movies with him, or go hiking with him, although you dislike these activities, then this might backfire at a certain point). The same applies when you ignore your own needs or give up leisure time activities to just spend time with your partner assuming that you have to create some kind of intimacy with them in each free second. In this case you also behave adaptive and create ordinary relationship. You are no longer authentic.
Extraordinary relationship has a different purpose than ordinary relationship. The purpose of extraordinary relationship is to love, to be with each other, to create a relationship, communicate authentically, learn and grow together, do intimacy experiments, enjoy the presence of the other person and appreciate them without wanting to manipulate or change them. It is about each of you being able to take a stand for yourselves, not giving up your passions and at the same taking a stand for the WE. For such a kind of relationship to be fulfilling and nourishing in the long run, it is important that you pay attention to integrate all four kinds of intimacy consciously and responsibly.
To come to a close, here is a hint regarding the topic “daily life logistics” that oftentimes takes up a lot of space and prevents you from intimacy. Daily life logistics is about the exchange of information that engages the intellectual body. However, it is a difference, whether you get lost with your partner in constantly clarifying logistical topics or exchanging intellectual intimacy. One possibility is – e. g. when you get home in the evening – that you take e. g. 15 minutes time to clarify all the necessary logistics (who needs the car when, who will pick up the children, who buys food, who calls the necessary craftsman, etc.). After that the logistical topic is closed and you can consciously open up the space for intimacy and for example start preparing dinner while dancing or listing to music (physical intimacy). Many couples think that they are in contact when they clarify daily logistics. However, when you sense into that, you might find that there is a big difference regarding the connecting quality, whether you clarify logistics or share what your plans are or what you experienced during the day.
Are you ready to start with the four body intimacy experiment?