For a lot of us, intimacy is… complicated. The idea of intimacy comes bottled with the sense that it always must be felt with someone else, and that it’s supposed to look or feel a certain way. It’s movie montages and sweet nothings, maybe, or sharing our deepest and darkest secrets, or making passionate love in the most cinematic of ways.
But in truth, intimacy is far more nuanced and complex than the silver screen can probably ever truly capture, and to be completely frank, attempting to turn our own lives into movies usually sets us up for disappointment. While we fully encourage you to harness the positivity that is “main character energy,” real life is still real life, and living with the pressure to turn everything into a film scene is, honestly, exhausting — especially when so much media is limited to archetypes and tropes, specific bodies and specific skin tones, specific forms of love, and so on.
Okay, rant over. But the fact remains: intimacy is no one thing, however all forms of real, true intimacy are extraordinarily beautiful. And the secret to bringing that beauty into your own life? Redefining what, exactly, intimacy feels like to you. Intimacy has no one look, no one body or emotion or skin tone or kind of relationship, and definitely no one feeling. And you’ll know it when you feel it, trust us — but we totally get it if right now, you’re wondering where to start.
And so, as an exercise for just about anyone, whether you’ve yet to experience true intimacy, you’ve have had an experience that has separated you from it, or if you just to develop some kind of intimacy-grounding practice we’ve put together a list of a few practices that may be helpful for helping you redefine what intimacy for yourself. As cheesy as it may sound, intimacy always, always, starts from within.
An oldie, but a goodie. Here are some relevant prompts that we love:
And remember: intimacy, like love and other things, is far more a verb, or even a state of being than it is an object. It isn’t something you gain, and then just keep. It’s a practice, and if you fall out of it sometimes, that’s okay! Just know that it’s possible to develop some kind of practice for it, which you can come to again, again, and again — if for no one but yourself.
** Quick note to say that, especially when traumatic histories are involved with feeling disconnected to intimacy and to your body, we definitely encourage working with a therapist as well! It’s great to have a home practice, but professional help is never a bad idea, either.
This article is by Maggie Harrison-- a rural Pennsylvania-raised, currently New Orleans-based writer and creative whose work covers everything from wellness to social media to grief and loss. Head to her website to learn more about her work, or follow along on Instagram or Twitter.
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