The Definition of Intimacy and how to achieve it
We do deal with a lot of couples married couples. People in long term relationships where I think a lot of times people don’t understand what real intimacy is or they have their ideas of what it is. Still, Dr. Dabney has taught me along the lines of what the real and true definition of intimacy is.
Typically, people think intimacy means sex, but the broader definition is transparency. That’s one of the easiest ways to explain it. Transparency being honesty.
If people bury their feelings like anger, neediness, and sadness because they feel it’s bad or wrong or hurtful. This is you hiding something. If you’re hiding something, it’s not a good idea because either you’re hiding an emotion, and it later builds and blows, or you’re hiding something, so you feel resentful that it’s not being taken care of. It causes all kinds of problems, so to be able to say something difficult and possibly cause some hurt or some pain or difficult conversation is way better every time then burying it.
When it comes to talking about things, if you don’t talk about things or aren’t honest, that’s when people can act out and have bad actions. Versus people acting out things as a way to hint. Hint that there’s a problem.
There’s a term alexithymia. What does that mean? It means you cannot read your own emotions; you can’t read emotions.
For example, If someone is crying and I ask, “what are you feeling?” and they’ll respond with “I don’t know.” It’s widespread, and I have to say, “I see tears, and usually, tears mean sadness.” I have to walk people through that sometimes.
That’s how disconnected they are from certain feelings. I’ll even try to make the step for them. I’ll say when people feel it, their hands are clenched and their hearts racing, and their jaws are clenched. What is that feeling? Usually, they can name the emotion in somebody else. What if someone else had that what would you think? They sometimes need a stair-stepping method to get them to understand their emotions fully. Especially when it’s something that they’re not used to or never had to deal with. Not that they hadn’t had to deal with it but that they never did deal with it right or you didn’t learn how to deal with it. Typically, we’re too afraid to deal with it, or whatever the situation is.
Understanding the why, that’s another thing people ask me all the time. Why do I need to know why who cares? I don’t want to blame my parents. It’s not about blame; it’s about understanding. I mean, if you have a crack in the wall of your house, how do you know if it’s the roof, the foundation, the paint- you don’t know. You have to find out why, where’s it coming from. Once you find out why you can address it, you can address it and then hopefully understand those emotions. Then we practice expressing them.
Expressing emotions with empathy- if you think it’s going to be a sensitive topic, you can say, “I know this is a sensitive topic, but I need to talk about my feeling of X when you do Y.” Another misconception is that relationships or marriages are easy, but it’s not easy. It’s work, and it takes two people to really have that true intimacy.
It doesn’t have to be the couple to work on the relationship; both do not need to be here. If you want to fix your marriage or relationship or anything, you can come in and start working on yourself, and sometimes that makes all the difference.
We have people call and say, “I want to come in, but my spouse doesn’t want to come in.” We say come in any way; we welcome you. I see it as a scale. People say, “how can you judge the relationship if you haven’t heard the other side?” Is it like, do I look like Judge Judy? No. It’s not a court of law. There’s no right or wrong; I’m not judging anybody. But I know if one partner is hurting and doesn’t have these skills, then the other person is hurting. There’s no way in a system that one person can be so out of whack, but the whole relationship isn’t out of whack. That’s all I need to know.
If I fix him and I get him to the point where he’s healthier emotionally- the whole system will right itself. Once the one person comes in, the partner usually can either A.) changes themselves and realize something’s going on, B.) say okay, I want to go too, and then they end up starting to come in together.
It just works; it’s like you don’t both have to come to fix the system and fix you. If you fix you, you’re setting the system, the marital system. Some people pick up the changes automatically; they start making the changes to or if this approach is healthy or the reactions often healthier.
The definition of intimacy; there are so many different things when it comes to intimacy and misconceptions.