Defining Intimacy

How do you define intimacy? When you envision an intimate relationship, what do you see? Have you observed relationships that appear to be filled with intimacy? Have you experienced frustration or sadness due to a lack of intimacy in a present or past relationship?

If you are like most people in search of intimacy, you probably define it using words like love, intensity, friendship, sharing and sex. Perhaps you imagine yourself walking hand in hand with someone, or laughing together in the company of close family or friends. Your visions probably take place in fun-filled, stress free, "best of times" scenarios. It's a good bet you don't envision intimacy as present in the sad, struggling and frightening experiences of a future life.

Yet in defining intimacy, these "negative" experiences will play a critical role in the health and longevity of your relationship. In fact, true intimacy can't exist without the "tough times".

So, how is intimacy truly defined? In her book The Dance Of Intimacy; Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D. sums it up well. She states that "for starters, intimacy means that we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same. An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way."

As you compare this definition of intimacy with the one that you have held, how well do they match up? Are there similarities or are they very different? Whatever your answer to this question is, you can benefit greatly by examining your beliefs about intimacy. Such an assessment will provide a critical early step in the journey to a lasting intimate relationship.

There are many later steps that you will take as you create the relationship of your dreams. However these will be more vulnerable to failure without first building a strong foundation of intimacy.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Is There room in your Life for a Relationship? Achieving Balance"
List of more "Self growth & Self Improvement" articles

"How's Your Self-Awareness?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.