What it Means to Be Intimate
I once spoke with a friend over dinner about intimacy and she shared a little phrase to remind me of intimacy’s true meaning. “It means ‘in-to-me-see,’” she said. Ah yes, I thought. It’s a blending of our hearts together, so we can “see into” who they really are, and they can “see into” us.
According to Dictionary.com, intimacy is defined as, “Showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.”
Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. Isn’t this something we all long for? Whether it’s with a best friend, a sibling, or a mate, we were designed by God to connect.
Real Intimacy Makes Us Feel Known
Real intimacy makes us feel alive like we’ve been found, as if someone finally took the time to peer into the depths of our heart to really see us. Until we experience true intimacy, we will feel passed over and ignored.
In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller writes,
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
The person who has an intimate friend or mate knows what it is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and face the world with greater confidence because “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Real Intimacy is Cultivated through Acceptance
Unfortunately, we can miss out on the joy of intimacy when we try to mold another person into our version of what we think is good, rather than encourage them to be who God has designed them to be. Being judgmental will blind us to their positive qualities and love and intimacy will be destroyed. Intimacy is always cultivated through acceptance.
When developing intimacy, let us remember to exercise humble patience, bear with one another, and forgive one another, and above all else, put on love because “love is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14).
Real Intimacy Begins with You
When building intimate relationships, remember that intimacy begins with you. Since intimacy means “in-to-me-see”, how can anyone “see into” you unless you know your own heart? Experiencing true intimacy begins with knowing yourself and a willingness to let someone in through honest communication.
Granted, this isn’t easy. All love is a risk and it can be uncomfortable. Thankfully, we don’t have to become vulnerable all at once because developing intimacy is like peeling an onion. It can happen just a little at a time—over time—as trust grows.
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