“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu
Intimacy is not a very straightforward topic to me. During intimate moments with men, I usually become tense, I return kisses hesitantly and end up making out mainly to satisfy their desires. I subconsciously believe I ought to fulfil their expectations.
Having said that makes me feel like I should be a more enthusiastic activist of the #metoo movement.
Although I have never really been abused, it feels like diving into an intimate encounter is something that men push me to do. But wait a second, my lady! Wasn’t it you who approached him first, that last night in the bar? Wasn’t it you who stared into his eyes intensely and told him that you found him attractive?
The rest just seemed to happen by itself. Whether I wanted it or not — kisses and caressing continued. That often left me feeling uncomfortable and looking forward to the moment I could finally go home.
The above is the story pattern that I like to play out from time to time. I guess this is how I subconsciously create a mirror in which I can see myself and my feelings.
What is your experience of intimacy?
The way we experience intimacy is limited
In our society, we often take intimacy for granted. We tend to see it in just a few, limited ways, neither of which celebrates it as a special part of life. And I find that seeing it as something special, something deep and important, would save us a lot of trouble in our romantic adventures.
Am I just sounding like your grandma right now? Maybe. But for many people I know, intimacy seems to be akin to entertainment, without being connected to any deeper feelings. It’s almost like close, physical encounters are something you can dive into to simply relax after a long week of work. It is easy enough to go out to a bar, meet a guy and go back home with him.
It’s not that I am against it — I can understand the urge for closeness very well. I feel the same urge, and if I meet an interesting man in a bar, I cannot guarantee what’s going to happen next.
But why the hell would you talk about your one-night-long romance as if you consumed a tasty dinner and then went back home, forgetting the taste right after stepping out the door?! Didn’t you feel any connection to the person with whom you just shared a bed/couch/kitchen table? Didn’t love flow through you, leaving your heart open and touched for hours after the night’s adventure ended?
Do you want to tell me that it was all a joke, that you didn’t really care, and that he was giving funny noises when approaching an orgasm? Seriously, are you telling me about your intimate encounter, or rating an experience on TripAdvisor here?
I feel that people talking about intimate moments as if they meant nothing, usually put on a mask. Their choice of words suggests that sex was merely a means to pass some time, and I don’t believe it. I am certain that more has happened there — you just don’t want to tell me.
Another approach that I find as very common is treating intimacy as an obligation. This can take many forms. Many people in long-term relationships seem to consider intimacy and sex as something that obviously must be there, on a regular basis, and maybe even in defined intervals of time. After a while together, couples start approaching each other mechanically, and they make love because the time for sex has come. The man feels obliged to initiate, and the woman — obliged to make herself available. Or at least — this is the pattern I am familiar with.
But you don’t need to go to long-term couples to observe how the idea of “duty” manifests in intimacy. It may become obvious during the first intimate encounter of two people who simply have preconceived notions of where a romantic adventure is supposed to take them.
In other words: many of us are biased as to how a romance is supposed to unfold — and we often let those biases direct our intimacy.
Example? I approach a male friend (whom I have met just a couple weeks before) after we’ve had a swim in the river, and I tell him that I find him very attractive. I obviously have a thing for him and I want to see where this can take us. So I tease him, but I actually wait until he kisses me first. This is a part of my bias — or “program” — which dictates how I play my cards in the interaction with him.
A part of his program as a man is to take charge of the moment. As soon as he learns that I feel attracted to him — he is all over me. In my innocence, I didn’t see it coming. I am still stuck in my pattern of “one kiss — see what happens — keep him distant — keep myself safe”.
The inner drive to have things unfolding in a certain way is one of the most impeding factors in our intimate encounters. The superficial approach to intimacy is something that stops us from realizing the actual possibilities that can be found in authentic closeness.
The question becomes: how to overcome these impediments to see intimacy for what it really offers?
What is so special about intimacy?
The real power of intimacy goes way beyond offering entertainment, relaxation and fulfilling our expectations. Getting intimate with someone is so much more potent than just satisfying our desires, that it almost feels inadequate to mention the two in the same sentence.
Michael Brown, the author of a book called The Presence Process (an experiential procedure guiding the reader to reconnect with the present moment awareness), finds a second layer of meaning in the word “intimacy” itself. He paraphrases it as “in-to-me-(and)-see” — because this is what intimacy is about.
In To Me And See. An intimate setup with another human being allows me to dive deep into myself and discover nuances in the way I feel and interact, that would otherwise remain unknown. It allows me to see certain things clearly and easily, as if they were filtered, polished and presented to my awareness on a golden plate.
Intimacy and physical closeness — especially when being naked — that’s always an opportunity for a big life lesson. Letting someone else keep looking for a way to touch you is a treasure you can give both to them and to yourself. Being vulnerable in an intimate encounter is like putting your shield down and saying: Let it be.
At the same time, intimacy is not something to treat carelessly. I know already that it doesn’t serve me to engage physically whenever an opportunity arises. Getting intimate is a decision to be considered consciously.
Why? Because, whether we want it or not, getting intimate with another person opens us up. It is a natural mechanism to connect with this human in front of us, who is touching us so familiarly — on a physical, mental and emotional level. In order to be synchronised in copulating or even kissing, the two people need to become one for the time when it happens.
When we become one with the right person, it feels like heaven. We can share the thoughts, the feeling, the movement and the sensations — and in the end, it seems that we can just dress in someone else’s skin. They are us and we are them — there is no separation anymore. This is the power of sharing an intimate experience and being aligned in it.
However — your heart also opens to receive the other person, even if they are not a good match for you at this point in time. You may end up with someone with whom you aren’t compatible — and this can be for all the different reasons. Maybe you went to bed with this guy because you needed a confirmation of your own attractiveness. Maybe you felt an urge to impress a girl just because you felt lonely. There can be a thousand and one reasons why you decided to jump into an intimate interaction.
But remember, that once you are there, touching and being touched, kissing and being kissed — your whole being is opening up to the partner in front of you. You are naturally going to your most vulnerable state because Mother Nature designed it that way. So please, stay alert and awake.
Opening your heart in front of the right person feels like heaven. Opening your heart in front of a stranger that you have hardly anything in common with can leave a hole in your heart.
This hole can feel overwhelming at times.
Are you ready for intimacy?
No matter how you have been experiencing intimacy until now — there is always room to change. I don’t know who you are deep inside and therefore I cannot tell if you actually need or want that change.
This last section of this article is for those who do.
The key to accessing the full potential of intimacy is doing it consciously. This doesn’t mean that you have to meditate before each and every intimate encounter. In fact, the opposite attitude of going with the flow and experimenting might be more fruitful in the long run. That is — as long as you know what you are doing it for.
You will want to check how ready you are to dive into real intimacy — the one with no inhibitions, no fear, no self-consciousness, doubts or expectations. I deeply believe that it is possible if attempted with a compatible person, your full presence and engaged participation. Creating an environment without distractions, eliminating time pressure and unrelated commitments will certainly help you achieve this kind of intimacy.
But to know if you yourself are ready for it deep inside — that’s a separate question. I think there’s no answer to this question other than self-experimenting.
The first thing to become aware of is that getting intimate with someone is a big deal. We might often think that the effects of being intimately engaged only last in the moment when it happens. The next morning, we should be able to get out of bed as always, have our usual routine and set off to participate in our ordinary life, as if nothing ever happened.
We falsely assume that a deep, intimate encounter with another human doesn’t have a lasting effect on us. It is just a thing we do. Afterwards, we get ourselves together and continue with whatever it was we were planning.
The reality is different. As I said before, while becoming intimate with another person, our heart opens by default, to tune into theirs. We are not exclusively our own when we fully engage in having sex or making out. We share a very emotional experience with someone else — and, consequently, their emotions easily become our emotions.
This is worth remembering when you ponder on what it actually means to be ready for intimacy. Realise how much of a personal stretch it takes to dive into a close physical experience with someone. It might be that you are not ready for this kind of a stretch.
It might be that getting intimate will leave you feeling weaker than before. It might not make you relaxed and fulfilled — but rather tired and melancholic.
Please know that this is totally valid. The experience of intimacy can have a million different effects on us. And sometimes you just don’t know what it will do to you — until you give your whole self to the experience and to the other person.
So how can you know if you are ready for intimacy, here and now? Only you have the answer to this question. It is the diving “in-to-me-and-see”, over and over again, that helps you grasp this answer. Don’t stop searching inside of yourself.