Imagine yourself and your love, sitting down to a meal you’ve just prepared with him while dancing in the kitchen to music you both love.
You share a knowing glance and burst out in a peal of giggles over an inside joke he reminds you of just by arching his right eyebrow as he brings a forkful up to his magnetic lips.
This is what intimacy (as it’s sold to us) looks like.
We are supposed to know what our partner is thinking—our relationship (if it’s working right) should be full of easy laughter, multiple orgasms, and open communication that feels effortless.
Sometimes all of that is true.
But more often than not, the process of building intimacy with your partner reveals your shadow side; dark thoughts you never knew you had come to light, and suddenly, the relationship you thought was hot and stable becomes a little less certain.
Intimacy asks you to trust an unseen pilot. It asks for your entire commitment. It demands your rapt and continuous attention.
Intimacy is not for the meek—it is not for the automatons. It will not accept mediocrity or let you lie to yourself.
It is what everyone wants and what not many know how to build. It requires stores of bravery and offers no guarantees.
Therein lies the rub; if you want real intimacy with your partner, you must release your hot, sweaty grip on the future. You must check your assumptions at the door and admit how those heavy bags from your past still make your shoulders ache.
Intimacy is built in the space where your white lies used to live.
He settles against you on the couch, his back against you for connection as he leans just forward enough to rub the kink out of his ex-wife’s neck. The three of you sit there on your normally safe brown velvet couch; the silence of discomfort and unspoken pushed boundaries wrapping both you and her with cold unease.
He continues on, obliviously. You hear her sigh as your mind circles on their past like a vulture above carrion.
Your mother’s voice echoes in the back of your head: This isn’t appropriate—it’s too intimate.
You’ve had enough, you push against him and declare that it’s bedtime. You silently demand that he follow you. He does.
His ex goes to sleep on your futon. You lay in your bed like a board and he asks you what’s wrong.
The next six hours feel like death as you shudder through every fear you’ve had of him leaving you, as you understand, finally, the pain you’ve left in your own relationship wake. He wants to sleep, his intentions were misread but he stays awake with you, holding your fears, saying everything you want to hear and some things you don’t. You’ve never had a fight until tonight; when it feels like it’s suddenly being blown apart by your fear, by all the voices in your head that aren’t your own.
You alternate between somehow-mindblowing sex and cold, sweaty pools of deathly loneliness.
Morning comes and you realize that you’re truly seeing each other for the first time. The ice begins melting as his ex stirs in the next room. Your partner asks you to be the feminine goddess you are and invite her to make breakfast with you.
You ask her to chop vegetables, pulling off your best impression of enlightenment. You turn on music and the three of you sit down to breakfast. As your partner raises his fork to those magnetic, smiling lips, you remember that you are a goddess, that your heart is bigger than your fear, and that nothing can be taken away from you unless it’s meant to go.
The knot in your throat lightens and you reach through your aching heart to rub her neck (because it hurts). You send her away with love and choose to spend your life with him; today, and then tomorrow and tomorrow—one day at a time.
Real intimacy is built on the truth.
Real intimacy embraces the full, catastrophic costume of ecstasy. To create the safe space in which intimacy thrives, you have to jump into the choppy waters of expressing how you truly feel; even when it hurts, even when it’s scary, even when you know you sound insane.
It reminds you there is nothing to lose and erases the idea of tomorrow.
Intimacy makes you feel alive; it fills your life with more questions than answers; it is the only thing that creates the kind of love story that feels like we’ve been told is possible.
I dance daily with the darkness and lightness of intimacy. I remember that I have nothing to lose (after I’ve forgotten, again).
I choose to live in the questions, because everything that kills me makes me feel alive.
I am living that love story, and if you’re brave enough to be intimate, so can you.
Its where the truth and the idea of intimacy diverge.
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Assistant Editor: Leace Hughes/Ed: Bryonie Wise