What does it mean to be intimate? What should it mean? How much intimacy does one need to be healthy? How do we gain more intimacy in our lives?
First, if we take the literal definition of intimacy, we find that it refers to a closeness or familiarity. The connotative meaning usually leads us to think of a sexual act. We usually think of this association first. Is it because we, as a society, have been trained to do so through media and advertisements for intimate-wear? Is it because being intimate has become the polite way to say that we are getting busy, knocking the boots, having sex? Is it because our society has become overly sexualized in all facets? I have come to believe it is a combination of all of these things.
So, what happens if we get back to that literal meaning? If we return to the idea that closeness is important? If we remember what it was like to communicate like we did before the days of the internet and social media? Or even, before the days when we all had cell phones and could speak to each other with next to no effort? What would it be like if we actually had to be in close proximity to a person to talk with them? If we didn’t have the distractions of TV and internet and social media?
You see, I have been doing quite a bit of genealogy research lately, and with that comes just as much history research. In so doing, I find that families tended to stay near each other quite closely. Multiple family units would inhabit the same property in houses right near one another. They would work together, spend time together as friends would, worked together on the same properties to plant, sow, and harvest the crops needed to sustain them and process the animals needed for proteins, help one another to build and repair their homes, and worship together. They would also entertain themselves together with conversation, music, and feasts. This didn’t only happen at holidays, it was a daily occurrence. This created a closeness like very few of us know today. This was the truest way to breed intimacy in the home. Talking and sharing experiences like these would sow the seeds of intimacy the same as the fields were done.
Imagine: Taking the time and making the effort to know your partner’s every desire, learning their deepest thoughts, and working to fulfill them with what you can offer. Imagine doing this without the constant, minute to minute distraction of a TV in the background, a cell phone going off, social media drawing our thoughts away or the next bit of materialism being brought up in conversation. How much more would you know about the people you love? How much deeper a connection would you have with your partner? How much easier would it be to satisfy your partner sexually, emotionally, and mentally? How much more satisfied would you be with your life knowing you satisfied them? How much less stress and mental anguish would you have knowing how to make your family happy? What level of trust could you share with your partner and your children if you truly knew what makes them tick?
None of this is to say that we should completely forgo all of the modern conveniences that we now enjoy. Sometimes just enjoying a movie together can be just as intimate as a deep conversation. Sometimes a sweet text message to let our loved ones know that we care is just as intimate. Sometimes publicly expressing our love on social media or showing our loved ones off to the world can be intimate, too. So, no, I am not condemning those things outright. I do however see that our focus is too often taken away from the gifts of intimacy by these things. We find ourselves so wrapped up in all of these other things that intimacy gets pushed from our focus.
So maybe every now and then we need to disconnect from our outside-derived lives and seek intimacy again. Find the time to ask questions and find answers to how we feel and what we really think. If we place value on the intimacy of a person’s heart and mind, I can promise that the intimacy of sex will grow stronger, deeper, and more fruitful. So turn off that TV, have a deep conversation and get back to knocking them boots the right way!