Mini-Love-Lesson # 259
Synopsis: We start with the experience of intimate love; move on to what is intimacy and intimate love; the main two pathways to intimate love; its widespread healthfulness; the question “Is risking realness required” and then end with the wonders of intimate love via emotional intercourse.
The Experience of Intimate Love!Close and personal, special and private, connecting and bonding, free and trusting, revealing and exposed yet safe and secure, known and accepted, miniscule and precious, cherished and soaring, erotic and sacred, tender and powerful, idyllic and serene, delicate and cosmic, warm and ebullient, core sharing and soul touching -- these are but some of the words people used to describe their experience of intimate love in a couples workshop on advanced intimacy and love.
Do some of these words resonate with you? Would you use others and, if so, what? What is your experience so far with intimate love? Do you seek, wish for, long for, or work to create more intimate love in your life? Are you good at intimacy cooperation and intimate love teamwork? Do you tend to eagerly welcome or more often dodge experiences of intimacy? Do you tend to linger with intimate love or cut it a bit short like so many do? In your future, what part will intimate love play?
What Is Intimacy?Those who research intimacy tend to see it as a process of interaction in which, most commonly, two or sometimes a small group of people reveal and share their real, deeper , more personal and private thoughts, emotional and physical feelings, behaviors and sometimes their sexuality, thereby, letting themselves be more mutually and idiosyncratically known and experienced. In doing so, intense forms of mutual feelings of closeness, bonding, joy, being preciously connected and valued can result.
Sometimes smaller, intimate experiences produce feelings of simple closeness and strong, shared appreciation along with cherished memories of the experience. There is often a sense of conjoined caring, mutual understanding and dual affirmation resulting from shared intimacy experiences.
What Is Intimate Love?Intimate love combines everything you have just read about intimacy with, for, and in the expression of authentic love. Love simply is defined as a powerful, vital, and natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved (see The Definition of Love Series “The Definitions of Love”). Intimate love therefore, is a major, close, personal way of doing just those things.
At the same time, intimate love is a marvelous process for accomplishing the five major functions of love. In brief, they are (1) to connect us, (2) to nurture us, (3) to protect us, (4) to heal us and (5) to reward us for enacting the behaviors of love. Intimate love often provides profound connectedness, nurturing, healing and rewarding experiences frequently in a wonderful sense of happy safety and, thus, facilitating all five major functions of love.
The Main Path to Intimate LoveThe primary path to intimate love is self-disclosure and, with it, self-disclosure love (see “Self-Disclosure Love”, a chapter in my book Recovering Love). It is an act of love to disclose yourself to someone you love. It lets them know who you are in intimate detail. Ongoing self-disclosure shares your personal self with another so that they can understand who you are in many differing ways, enjoy you and much more fully experience the unique you.
Self-disclosure can be done by revealing your body, your way of being sexual, your physical feelings, your positive, negative and mixed emotions, your history (both bad and good) your ordinary past, your hopes and aspirations, fears, weaknesses, strengths, excesses, deficiencies, victories and failures, personal thoughts, areas of knowledge and ignorance, your troubles and triumphs, mediocrity, ugliness and beautiful parts, along with where you need healing and growth, your deficiencies and attributes, guilty aspects, shame, pride, enjoyments, proclivities, idiosyncrasies, and ways of just being yourself.
Do not forget to reveal your ways of being fair, decent, kind and ways of having pleasure. Very important are your perceptions, understandings, conceptions and misconceptions, preferences, moods, attitudes, judgments and quandaries. Even more important are your fears, anxieties, secret hopes and hidden desires. In other words, share as much as you can and, while you are at it, enjoy your beloved sharing themselves with you (see “Growing Closeness -- A Love Skill”).
The Second but Equal Path to Intimate LoveThe second great path to intimate love is touch or tactile love, both sexual and affectionate (mostly nonsexual). Everything from one finger, tender, superlight touch to full body bear hugs and full body massage-type touching is included here. When you fully, really love someone touching them in every loving way and on every loved part is a great way to create an intimate love, experience. Likewise, letting yourself be touched every way and everywhere is a grand way to share yourself with someone and let yourself be intimately loved.
Passionate embraces and tender eyelid kisses, being vigorously lifted then swung around or super gently caressed, having your feet rubbed with scented oils or your back scratched -- they all can convey, enhance and embody intimate love. So too does all types of wanted sexuality. Experimenting with new types of sexuality, always done with shared love and without judgment or anything critical, can produce a wonderful sense of an intimate love experience. That is true even if the sex part does not work out so well (see“50 Varieties of Love Touch”).
Intimate Love Is So Healthy -- Physically and PsychologicallyThere is quite a bit of research showing that high levels and frequency of intimacy resulted in higher levels of happiness, good mental health, better immune system functioning, less stress hormones in the blood, as much as eight years of greater longevity, greater general enjoyment of life, better body systems functioning, far better relational functioning and a host of other goodies.
Is Risking Realness Required?Many people fear self-disclosure, intimacy and intimate love itself though still desiring it. There are lots of different reasons for those fears. For some, it is a fear of being judged and rejected, others have been trained to be ashamed, embarrassed or have a sense of being sinful when they reveal certain parts of themselves, while still others have very painful memories of betrayal stemming from the last time they risked being real. Then there are those who rely on their social act and persona mask so much that they just can't bring themselves to do honest self-disclosure without embellishment and social deception.
If you self-disclose some intimate truth about yourself and it goes badly, in one way that is a good thing. It helps you know that the person you did the self-disclosure with probably is not a good person to do self-disclosure with, and consequently, is more likely to be a poor candidate for carrying out most kinds of love relationship with. Thus, whatever went wrong is likely to be a message to consider ruling them out and to go looking for someone more tolerant, accepting, empathetic, less critical or whatever.
If you choose not to be self-disclosing, that can be quite a barrier to intimacy and intimate love occurring. Some people do not do well at self-disclosure just because they were brought up that way. Frequently they have been subconsciously programmed to mold themselves into strong silent types. This especially is true for a lot of men in several cultures where showing your emotions is not considered manly.
Then there are those, women mostly, who have been subconsciously programmed to be attracted to the strong, silent types. Strong can be okay but silent, not so much. Silence is a prescription for emotional distance and loneliness. It is done mostly for safety but, in reality, for love relationships it is not safe at all. Whenever there is too much emotional distance in a romantic relationship love hunger tends to grow, as does, the likelihood of secret affairs.
Can you risk being seen psychologically naked? If you are rejected, or have fled from or retreated from being criticized and condemned, can you be strong enough to be okay with the probability that you and that person may not be a good match -- which is a good thing to know sooner than later. Risking revealing yourself is the only way to really find out if the real you and the whole you is loved. Hopefully you have enough healthy self-love to both risk and survive going for intimate love. Likewise, will you do well with self-disclosure coming your way? Toleration love often is required for a love relationship to be good and lasting (see “Tolerational Love”, a chapter in Recovering Love).
Emotional IntercourseHaving emotional intercourse fairly frequently is absolutely great for making intimate love experiences happen and for keeping heart-mate love relationships interesting and enriching. How do you have emotional intercourse? Well, you do it by taking your positive and negative emotions about anything and everything and showing them, not just telling them to a loved one who can take them in with good listening and love reception skills. It is sort of like living them with you as you share and self-disclose them (see “Listening with Love”).
Then, with good listening and love reception skills, you do the same as they share and self-disclose their emotions about anything and everything to you (“Tolerational Love”, a chapter in Recovering Love). Emotional intercourse usually is fairly active though sometimes subtle. Intimately looking into each other's eyes, while holding each other, while both have very loving facial expressions can be great emotional intercourse. Emotional intercourse can occur at the same time as sexual intercourse if very free-form, active expression of what is being felt emotionally and sexually is occurring and is being observed with enjoyment and maybe with awe (see “Intimacy Creation – A Love Skill” and “Emotional Intercourse”).
One More Thing: With another, talking over what you have just read and sharing your feelings about it, as well as your thoughts, might lead to a bit of an intimate experience. If you do that, please mention this site and our many mini-love-lessons. Thank you.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Quotable Question: If you go emotionally naked and have emotional intercourse with someone and they, likewise with you, will you not, in one way or another, come to love each other?