The magical state that is our glimpse of oneness can be called by many labels, including “intimacy”, but my favorite is the term “essence contact”. It speaks of the frivolous aspects of our personalities (including fears and expectations) stepping aside and letting the core of our selves connect with another. This passes by all this images we have about it.
It’s hard to describe how to get there because it is after all a very natural thing. Look at the way a baby interacts with the world – with wonder. Every touch is a fully present touch, an invitation to explore. The effect this has on others is magical.
There is no difference between intimacy and meditation. Each comes from a state of division-less. There is no “other”, no “I am this, and I want that, which I am not”. There is only a wholeness that comes of no separation inside one’s self; no difference between “outer” and “inner”. In true intimacy, there is no difference between “the other” and “yourself”, because at that moment, there is union.
It’s good to also differentiate between intimacy with another and intimacy with yourself. Intimacy with yourself is always a prerequisite to intimacy with another, and the intimacy you have with another is never more than the intimacy you have with yourself. Intimacy with one’s self largely falls under the heading of “know yourself”, and is also meditation. Most relationships will focus on intimacy with each other, which often leads to frustration if there is not time and space given to self-intimacy as well. We all know about this â???? it’s like banging your head against a wall that gets harder and more immovable the more you bash against it.
What’s very humorous about the whole topic is that intimacy is extremely easy to achieve. It’s a natural human condition. If you want to learn about intimacy at its basic nature, hang around babies; they don’t know any barriers yet, so they touch the world and others in a basic, unfiltered manner. You touch a newborn baby and you’re touching their soul; there is no separation. We can all return to that place very easily. All it requires is a willingness not to resist it. That is, not to resist ANYTHING. You cannot be in a place of intimacy and vulnerability within a sphere of protection against any feelings going on inside.
Building on this, for us adults, many things can block intimacy, but in my eyes they come down to fears and expectations.
If you look at a fairly ‘normal’ person in our society, despite the best intentions to head into a relationship with an open heart, there are fairly standard expectations. Some I’ve seen are:
– Their partner should think of them as the “only one” for them and act accordingly.
– Their partner should never be critical of them and should always be unconditionally supporting.
– Couples should spend as much time together as they possibly can, and should always be first on each others agenda.
– Their partner should demonstrate affection and love in a very specific manner that means something to them.
– Their partner should understand them fully.
– Their partner should never feel attraction to other people.
– Good relationships should never have shit come up.
– No matter how negative or destructive you are, the partner should always be there.
Perhaps you’ll recognize some of them! To see how a block might happen, say a person in a relationship feels a strong attraction to another outside the relationship. They don’t want to leave the relationship, and don’t do anything to further it. However, their partner feels what’s going on and gets angry â???? a very natural result of having these expectations. So the person resolves to “wall away” these feelings, resulting in an inner separation between what’s “acceptable” and “not acceptable”. The consequence of this is a lack of wholeness, and therefore intimacy within one’s self. This means that this person cannot actually bring their whole self to the other, resulting in a lack of intimacy in the relationship.
Note that there’s a world of difference between agreements and expectations. Agreements are conscious and can be very clear, providing a nice foundation for intimacy. If there’s an agreement to be monogamous (very useful in most cases!), and one person breaks it without a talk to change the agreement first, there’s a very natural erosion of trust. It also speaks of lack of integrity/lack of self-intimacy. Integrity and intimacy with one’s self are very intertwined.
Any expectation is a barrier to intimacy. No exceptions. Any condition, such as “I’m not willing to see the anger seething inside you” blocks the person’s whole being from true intimacy, since intimacy is related to wholeness. Note that this is VERY different from not accepting behaviors. Anger can be welcomed as part of the other’s experience of life; welcoming violent and/or disrespectful behavior is very inadvisable! To be able to see, in the moment, the innocence of the source of the behavior while being firm with boundaries about some behaviors (such as venting anger at you) is absolutely essential and a great help to the world.
I’ve noticed I can be frustrating in a relationship because my natural inclination is to value a relationship only as much as the intimacy in it. I don’t judge relationships based on how long they lasts. I don’t care much about “building a life together”. Those things are in the future, not in the present moment. Most people approach relationships such as “if only the other person would commit to me, if only they’d be completely open with me, then maybe we’d have the intimacy we need”. I try to approach relationships from open eyes that ask “is there intimacy here?”. That is, intimacy in every moment, a welcoming from the heart. If there is, then each moment is a foundation for the next; that momentum can indeed last a lifetime.