By The Raquel Peel Editorial Team
You’ve probably heard of intimacy in the context of sex and romance. For example, people sometimes use the term “being intimate” to mean sexual activity. But intimacy isn’t another word for sex. It’s possible to have sex without intimacy as well as intimacy without sex.
Intimacy ultimately means different things to different people. You may feel close to a date while you watch a movie together, while your date can’t wait to take a walk after the movie to feel closer to you. That’s because intimacy means different things to different people.
Your specific idea of intimacy may be influenced by your interests, communication style, or preferred ways to get to know someone.
Also, intimacy usually doesn’t happen in a flash — it must be built
You won’t wake up one morning and say, “We’re intimate now. Mission accomplished!”
Intimacy is more like a quality that you continue to cultivate over time. The more time you spend sharing experiences and feelings, the more elements you have to work with to build intimacy.
What does intimacy really mean?
It generally refers to a deep and mutual connection, something we can enjoy with other people, animals, nature, and even God. In the context of romantic relationships however, intimacy is also eroticized. To me, the word refers to both a tangible and metaphorical nakedness. It is the place where emotional vulnerability and sexual desire collide and it is something we co-create; we cannot own it for ourselves.
It is also paradoxical since sexual intimacy can enhance emotional intimacy but without emotional intimacy, the sexual connection will reach its limits. When I was in my early twenties, I was still learning about it all and my ideas were tangled up. I thought that having lots of sex could fast-track emotional intimacy; as if physical nakedness was the best way (in romantic bonds) to develop trust.