I pinched the following quote from redpepper's blog because I love it. The only thing I'd change is the word people. I'd change it to individuals because I know that intimacy doesn't just happen between humans and humans.
That small thing aside - I love it.
“Intimacy: An ongoing process where two or more caring people share, as freely as possible, an exchange of their thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences and time, in an atmosphere of mutual acceptance, commitment, tenderness and trust.”
I have just spent the most amazing week. I've been helping a truly friend of mine teach a 6 day training course covering a method of working with animals. The course got me thinking loads about relationships and intimacy.
I've been doing this stuff for years and valued the chance to catch up with several old friends. We don't see each other in person much because of distance but when we do, I'm always reminded of how valuable these people are to me. My relationships with those people very much fall under the above description of intimacy. They are people I would (and have) run to for support if my life was going badly.
And then there were the animals. People tend to bring their own dogs along often for these courses. Witnessing the intimacy they experience with their dogs is amazing. One dog on the course is extremely fearful of people and other dogs which makes her difficult for her owner to live with. Her owner (and her husband) are so committed to understanding and helping their dog - often in the face of hostility from other people. At the end of the week when she talked about the progress her dog had made, we all cried along with her.
Made some new friends too - one of whom I hope is going to help me move forward with some stuff I've been stuck with for a while. She lives near me and as it turns out we are both also friends with a dear friend of mine.
This all got me thinking about intimacy and just how much of it there is in my life. In some ways I think that I am able to experience intimacy more easily with platonic friends than with people I am sexual with. For me, I think sex complicates things a bit. I think it may be that I feel a little vulnerable and insecure about not being good enough at it? Maybe? I'm not sure if that's the whole thing about it.
It may also be that sexual relationships have such a weight of expectation placed on them (they are expected to lead to marriage, kids, house together etc) and I find it difficult to cut those things from my mind entirely even though I want none of that stuff.
I wonder if, for me, the weight of dealing with those sorts of issues makes intimacy more difficult.
Certainly, my pattern and preference over the years has been to have one or two very close platonic friends who I speak to and see often. Plus a wider group of close friends who I speak to and see a bit less often. And possibly a series of lovers who I don't have serious relationships with (or not - during my last single period I found I had no interest in having lovers).
I have learned over the years to value platonic friendships in a way I didn't so much before. My experience as a teenager was that I was told often by potential boyfriends that they would rather be friends with me. At the time, I took that as rejection and as a sign that I wasn't good enough.
Now I don't see it like that. I see the value in it. People wanted to be my friend because they value my friendship.
I'm also feeling quite excited about my SO and I working on our relationship. Time and figuring out how we will be together is needed I think and we have made a few plans.
We have very different takes on and experiences with romantic relationships. As well as hugely different lifestyles.
Fitting together is kind of tough for both of us at times. But I think our relationship is worthwhile enough to go through a bit of learning together.
Interesting and exciting times just now. Sorry for the jumbled thoughts - was thinking some of this through yesterday as I drove home and wanted to quickly write it down before it all went out of my head.