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A new age of intimacy

By Anne B

Last night I sent a heartfelt text message. Not my typical behavior. I’m not a huge fan of conveying important messages via texts, but in the spirit of the rapidly approaching New Year, why not try new things? You know the kind of text message I’m talking about. The kind that you write, stare at for a minute, erase, and revise a few times before sending. This is the kind of text that you have to put a little thought into in order to avoid the very high risk that comes with messy text miscommunication.

So, there I am with the final draft of my text. I ask myself, did I say too much? No. Not enough? No, it’s good. The message is clear, and straight from my heart. Send. Wait. Fein interest in what’s playing on TV. Wait some more. Ping! I get a response. Hoping to see words of poetry echoing my sentiments, and perhaps leading to a longer exchange and then some (wink wink) I open the message to find… a smiley face. A smiley face!? What am I supposed to do with that!!??

Correction: The smiley face was blowing a kiss. I guess that’s supposed to add some romance? Well thanks, now I’m just melting all over myself.

With 2010 approaching I’ve gotten a little reflective about where we are today. It’s not really news that we are inundated with mediums of communication. All of which act as methods to increase the connection from person to person. Facebook connects you with that kid who always had something sticky on his face. “Remember me? We played hopscotch in grade school!” Twitter tells you that your friend on the other side of the country is, “stuck in traffic again, ugh!” We have a virtual buffet before us offering a million ways to stay connected and informed about our loved ones. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re wearing your stretchy pants, buffets are great. Who doesn’t like having options? But this should not be a substitute for intimacy. The onus is on us to foster the intimacy. Merriam Webster defines intimacy as something of a personal or private nature.

No social network can fabricate the warmth of opening yourself up to someone you trust and love. It’s a lot more complicated than drafting the perfect text message. It requires a bit of personal risk. You’ve got to feel secure enough to expose the jugular of your vulnerability trusting that your partner is going to caress it, not bite. (Well, maybe a nibble would be nice.)

We are all seeking it too. We may deny it but that doesn’t negate the desire. Everyone wants their life to be validated, intimate witnesses of the good and the bad, who choose to stay and be a part of our lives. Knowing there is someone who cares about what happens to you just because it’s happening to you and you alone adds so much meaning to life. So we continue to publicly update our status, and invite the spectators of our lives to comment. It might leave us with a cold virtual smiley face that’s blowing us a kiss through the phone, when what we really want is for someone to draw us close so we can melt into a real, warm, and demonstrative embrace, but I guess at least we are reaching out.

In our world we have hyper communication that has been afforded to us like never before, instant connection with just about everyone in our lives. But with all of this connection it has not improved our level of intimacy with one another. So how can we improve it? Well it’s like the old saying goes, in order to get a friend you’ve got to be a friend. Same thing goes for intimacy and deep connection in romantic relationships; you really get out of it what you put in.

If you are beginning a relationship and see long-term potential, begin setting the foundation for a deeper connection and it will evolve into a more meaningful one. I’m not saying take every moment to cry in each others arms while watching The Notebook, but there are a few ways of setting the stage for both parties to have more intimacy in the relationship.

For starters, walk the walk.

Show them that you can be trusted. Keep your word. When you prove that you are reliable in smaller ways it carries over. Be where you say you will be, when you say you’ll be there. Make sure that your actions and, more importantly, your attitude is consistent.

Express your certainty.

Would you invest your time and devotion to someone who was a flight risk? If there is an insecurity that leads them to think you’ll bolt next time there is a rough patch there will be little motivation for them to move forward into murky waters. Do you care about this person? Show it.

Learn a thing or two from puppy love.

We all want to be loved unconditionally, so know that your person will have imperfections, but so do you! There is an enormous sense of serenity in knowing you are accepted in spite of your flaws. When you begin to realize that the relationship is a judgment free zone, you inevitably feel more comfortable giving more of yourself to it. Be sure that your attitude conveys an appreciation for the qualities that make this person different from the rest.

Be a communicado afficionado.

If there is one thing that technology teaches us, it’s how effective communication can transform our lives. Take some time to know more about yourself and have a genuine interest and curiosity in the other person. Make time to discover and learn about each other in a variety of situations and environments while traveling and trying new things together.

Psychologists today are discussing all of the cultural implications that come with the virtual advantages and disadvantages of how we communicate today. The overall breadth of our relationships have undoubtedly expanded, but the question remains: Does the depth of the relationships that are formed satisfy our needs for intimacy?

We are the makers of our relationships, and as Csikszentmihalyi says, man is to a large extent a reflection of his construction. When constructing your next relationship with someone for whom you care deeply, take the time to undertake this enterprise with great care.

photo credit: D3 SF

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