Intimacy is an experience. You can’t buy, own or touch intimacy. Most partners claim they want an intimate relationship but struggle to define or understand intimacy.
Below I debunk 6 myths about intimacy that very regularly show up in my conversations with couples.
Myth #1: Intimacy Is Sex
Some couples say, “We want more intimacy”, code for “We want more sex”. I’m here to tell you that intimacy does not mean sex. If you use the term “intimacy” in place of the word sex, you are probably afraid to say the word sex. If you struggle to say the word sex, that’s the reason you are not having it. Sex can feel intimate but “intimacy” itself does not mean sex.
Myth #2: Intimacy Should Happen All The Time
Intimate experiences are powerful. In fact, they are so powerful that I do not believe we can tolerate them as a constant experience. A common problem is the expectation of shared intimate experiences all the time. Intimacy needs to weave in and out of your relationship life. “Out” is just as important as “In”. But “Out” without any “Ins” equals disconnect.
Myth #3: Intimacy Means Agreement
Intimacy requires that you know yourself well. Why? Because when you know yourself well, you can more clearly express your differences to your partner. If you both agree on everything without any conflicts, well, someone is not telling the truth. Intimacy requires truth.
Myth #4: Relationships Fail Without Intimacy
An interesting study published in The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families I-7 on intimacy found that some couples can get along great without any deep levels of intimacy. Overtly or covertly, partners agree on low degrees of intimacy. The problem arises when one partner begins to desire more intimacy than the other. So, low levels of intimacy can work for some couples, as long as neither one asks for more intimacy.
Myth #5: Sex Requires Intimacy
Sex does not require intimacy, however, good sex does. Intimacy in sex does not mean candles, flowers and romantic gestures. Intimacy during sex requires honest expressions of desire, sexual appetite, sexual boundaries and expressions of curiosity. A one-night stand can feel very intimate if both partners consent, are honest about their intentions and express their sexual desires fully.
Myth #6: When Partners Love Each Other, Intimacy Should Be Easy
I have been with my current partner who is also my spouse for 20 years. Some intimate moments are easier than others. After 20 years, we still have intimate moments that challenge us. I’m glad for the challenge. It means we show up real.
As I study intimacy and work to refine my own working definition, I invite you to join me. What aspect of intimacy do you struggle with the most? Let's work together to help you create healthy, transformative intimate experiences.