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  #11  
Old 01-07-2013, 02:28 PM
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LilacViolin LilacViolin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dust View Post
This is a great thread, and I want to participate but I don't have as much time as I'd like.

But this (below) is very accurate for me.

I think vulnerability is perhaps the most important piece to me. It's hard for me to imagine feeling intimacy without that. Maybe it would be insightful to consider what makes communication NOT be intimate?

When I see a vulnerability, it makes me want to hold or help or touch or share. It seems to be what comes first. If you see something in someone else, then you feel something (appreciation, warmth, etc) in return. Conversely, if you share a (fear, hope or dream - something you care about) then you hope for those feelings in return.

Some people are scared to show their own vulnerability when they see it in others, which prompts them to attack the 'weakness'.
-D
Have you read anything by Brene Brown? I think you'd like (and agree) with her.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2013, 02:56 PM
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Baby in my arms so I am a one-handed typer. Please excuse typos.

For me, the core of intimacy is the willingness to allow someone to see the true me, even if that does not happen. For example, there is an intimacy with my children - they do not know everything about me but, if it was needed, I would happily share and be completely vulnerable. There are others with whom I feel this closeness: close friends, my siblings, my partner, and sometimes I feel it with strangers. It is not oversharing or purposefully being vulnerable, rather, it is the willingness. Even further, for me it is the not the feeling that I must say "yes" to the intimacy, but the knowledge that I would not say "no" if a person entered into that vulnerability with me. My emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual walls are down, as it were.

That translates into sex and, if I have shared intimacy through sex with a person for a while, it is difficult to transition when that sex no longer is available. But that difficulty during transition is present in all sorts of relationships: not being able to talk to a friend every day, no longer co-sleeping with your child, a work/school project ending.

Intimacy is dicey, it means something different for each person. I imagine most of us have been with someone who had a different understanding of intimacy. Feelings are hurt and relationships change. It is good (for me, anyhow) to reconsider how I feel about intimacy.
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  #13  
Old 01-07-2013, 03:22 PM
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Have you read anything by Brene Brown? I think you'd like (and agree) with her.
Just looked on amazon, and it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the suggestion!
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2013, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BreatheDeeply View Post
Intimacy was/is always in the context of sex for me. Direct genital contact, maybe leading to orgasm. ....

Does anyone else equate the two to that degree?
I'm on the other end of the spectrum. Most of the time it isn't sexual at all. Often I see a hardship, (perceived) weakness or pain in someone - and it makes me feel drawn to them - I want to comfort them, let them know they aren't alone. It often resonates as love for me, but not attraction or desire.

I think I could use a little more sex in my intimacy, though - so I'm not in the slightest disapproving. It just seems like a spectrum and everyone finds the spot where they are comfortable.
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2013, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by LilacViolin View Post
Have you read anything by Brene Brown? I think you'd like (and agree) with her.
Wow - her TED talk on vulnerability really hit me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

Thanks for sharing
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  #16  
Old 01-07-2013, 08:45 PM
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Wow, there have been some delightful and insightful -- and lovely -- posts since I checked in here last. It's a lot to respond to! And I don't have much time to respond well just now. So I just wanted to say to the participants in this thread that I'm reading here with enthusiasm and appreciation. Thank you all! I'll have more to say soon.
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  #17  
Old 01-07-2013, 09:12 PM
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I have thought about this a lot over the years. I hope that all made sense.
Yes! It makes lots of sense. And I found this post very insightful and helpful. I agree with what you say and think what you say is important.

It's probably true of all people, regardless of gender (or biological sex -- not that these two are always identical), that the higher the intensity level of "intimacy," in the broadest sense, the greater the tendency to "sexualize" it, or "frame" it -- internally -- as "romantic" (or nearby). [Sorry for the sloppy sentence!]

Of course, what I have just said is relative to cultural contextualization. I'm not sure how to think of this in terms of cultural contextualization because my experience of other cultures is quite limited and my anthropological education is too thin. But I'd hazard a guess that modern/western types are probably just not so much used to a high intensity of "intimacy" (in the broad sense) with others with whom there is not a romantic love container. So to speak. And this does seem to comment on how we as a culture tend to
conceive of and experience friendship--which we think of as "less intimate" than a loverly relationship (Or so I would guess). And that's a little sad, to me. 'Cause friendships have tremendous potential in terms of fulfillment of our need/desire for intimacy.

That said, there is yet another non-"romantic" context, aside from "friendship" as it is usually conceived, wherein a high level or intensity of intimacy might occur. And it is worth mentioning. This other context is "community" in a special sense. Those who live in or seek to create "intentional communities" tend to use "community" in this sense. A community of this sort binds people together more intimately than, say, an urban American would experience in their "communities". Members of such communities would be more like a family or a tribe, I suppose.

Clearly, trust is an important factor in framing "intimacy". People who have learned to trust one another are more likely to experience intimacy with one another. And contemporary urban environments don't provide much basis for widespread or generalized -- communal -- trust.

Just some thoughts....

===

Obviously, I cannot respond to all of the previous posts today. I'll try to respond to others soon.
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  #18  
Old 01-07-2013, 11:26 PM
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I wonder if a level of interdependence is an aspect of intimacy as well. I can't think of a relationship that is of substance that doesn't have some level of mutual benefit. I think you can have similar levels of dependency on multiple people (emotional support from close friends, for example) but both parties in each relationship must depend on the other for the relationship to develop intimacy.

To address the question of culture, also from very limited anthropological education, I believe that intimacy is generalized by each sub-culture (in our society, anyhow). What I have learned as intimacy as a white, middle class, presumed heterosexual female is different than another person's experience. However, if you gather many people who have been raised in similar homes, I am willing to bet we would describe intimacy in a same way. My first instinct is to describe intimacy as sex. "Being intimate" with someone is the jargon of Polite Society in my culture of origin. Also, I will generalize here, white middle class culture does not emphasize larger community groups as much as other cultural groups. Therefore, I have experienced less intimacy (broad definition) than others may because of my cultural heritage. As I build my own community this is becoming more obvious.
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  #19  
Old 01-08-2013, 12:35 AM
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This is quite a thread. Wanted to throw in my two cents. If anyone had asked me what intimacy is, I probably would define the word as sex. But the idea of how I "frame" it in my life is an entirely different story.

Years ago, when my boyfriend Ave and I had our 5 year anniversary of being together, a coworker and friend of his asked me how do we do it. How do we stay in love? I think the way I answered that question is my frame of intimacy. At first, I had no idea how to answer why or how our relationship worked. What made it different from when I had a relationship that parted ways. It took me a week of deep thinking to describe what seemed like the ineffable. My answer was, "Because I want too, and he [Ave] wants too as well."

I would call intimacy with another person, and love for that matter, as a process. Not a static state or a fact. Intimacy by any definition involves more than one person, as far as I know. Only when two (or more) people have each other's well being in mind and are willing to put in effort, and forgive failures and shortcomings, can people experience intimacy. Cooperation and the need to make the close relationship work every day are crucial. Intimacy would end the moment any person decides to stop trying. In the end, "Because I want too, and he wants too too as well", is the best description I have for intimacy. I would agree with many of the different types of intimacy mentioned: physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. just that my own take means every day is another day of continueing your intimacy with another person, or other varients. I have a long distance relationship, we might go days or week without talking. But it is mutual that sometimes there are gaps in time, we both agree to it, we both want to be in love, so our intimate relationship continues. Hope that makes sense.
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Last edited by Velvet; 01-08-2013 at 12:42 AM. Reason: added to the end
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  #20  
Old 01-08-2013, 09:39 PM
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I know I am intimate with someone if I let them see me cry or rage. Showing those sides of myself to someone else is extremely vulnerable. As a result the number of people I was or am truly intimate with is is very small and less than my number of sexual partners. Sex is not automatically connected with intimacy for me although it is one way that I get to know someone, to feel out if I want to be truly intimate with somone.
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