It’s becoming more and more common these days to mistake sex for intimacy. The idea of having an intimate relationship with someone is almost automatically assumed to be sexual. Is this all just a huge misunderstanding? What is intimacy, really?
For me, it’s being close enough to someone to know them well; almost as well as you know yourself. Almost as if you could communicate without speaking, and still understand and be understood. It comes from hours and days and weeks and months and years of time spent together; from caring enough to learn about the other, and remembering what you’ve learned. It means being willing to share the good and the bad; the happy and the harsh, both giving and receiving. You can be intimate with a friend, a lover, a spouse, God, a parent, or a child. Anyone who cares enough to know you, and is brave enough to try.
An intimate relationship means we may not always be at our best with each other, but it’s okay. Those times build us into our best selves; we don’t have to worry, because the other never wavers in their love and understanding of us.
Ideally, marriage should be an intimate relationship, emotionally and physically. Sadly, it often isn’t. Those for whom it is are the most fortunate, because they can have both sides of intimacy with the same person. That makes a marriage complete and fulfilling in a way that no other relationship can be.
Most of us, however, are not that lucky. I have had sexual relationships with men (sorry, Mom, more than one) who did not know me intimately—either because they didn’t choose to or because I didn’t let them. On the other hand, I have had intimate relationships with people that I’ve never had sex with.
I ache now for a truly intimate relationship; for someone who wants to know me; who thinks I’m important enough to make the effort, and take the time to find my needs and fulfill them. Someone who is brave enough to come back after I’ve behaved horribly. It could be someone to listen, or a shoulder to cry on, or to give me a hug when I’ve had a bad day, or someone just to be quiet with. I need someone to have that desire to talk to me every single day, even if it’s just for a short time, just to stay in touch.
But my heart aches for more than just my needs. I want to do those same things for someone else. I want to be there for them if they need a hug, or a kind word, or to vent about work, or just to know someone cares how they feel, and will love them unconditionally. I want to be the familiar face they look for in a crowd of strangers. I need someone’s face to light up with a smile when they see me.
I want someone to depend on me; to make demands of me—instead of letting me flow in and out of their life as if it makes no difference whether I’m there or not. I want to be needed, and wanted, and most of all, enjoyed.
I’ll keep looking.