What is intimacy and how do you create it? It’s about safety and openness, and it can make live so delicious!
Reid: How do I define intimacy? Well, I can make a joke about “into me, you see…”
Mostly the way that I would define intimacy is the experience that happens, the connection that can happen between two people or more – when people feel safe enough to let themselves feel uncomfortable, and they’re being vulnerable and transparent. I think that kind of connection and the trust that gets built out of that transparency and vulnerability, even if it’s just a quick, really powerful conversation that you have with somebody on a bus, or something. You have those days where people just open up to a stranger. Like, you create connection and intimacy, and it has nothing to do with duration. But that moment of being connected and the “seeing each other” that’s happening, and the vulnerability that’s being role-modeled – for me, that’s what intimacy is.
Cathy: It’s seeing the actual person and being yourself, not being the shell. For a long time, growing up, I had been kind of – whether they meant to teach me that or not, I got the message that I had to be something, to be a certain way to be acceptable. So I was always projecting this false shell of myself.
Cathy: I didn’t think it was acceptable to be myself. So there was no intimacy because I was never letting anyone connect with me.
Cathy: So being vulnerable is really frightening, especially if you haven’t done it before.
Reid: Yeah, and when you’re not being vulnerable and letting people see you, they actually can’t witness you. And the other piece about intimacy which is really useful is this kind of feeling of people “getting you,” or being there for you. So the act of witnessing – you know, listening, seeing, and having somebody taking that they’re being seen and they’re being heard – is another quality of intimacy that’s very, very powerful in today’s really busy world. And certainly, with digital opportunities to stay connected with people, it’s harder and harder to have that experience of intimacy and feeling connected. And so the importance of it is, I think, more important now than ever because people are experiencing it less and less on a regular basis.
Cathy: It’s incredibly nourishing when you’re truly with someone and you’re letting yourself out of your shell, so to speak. It’s revitalizing.
Reid: Yes. And again, harking back to Cuddle Party – http://CuddleParty.com is a workshop that I helped found back in 2004 – the thing I like to say is, part of what Cuddle Party is, is a workshop where you learn how to create a safe space for yourself so that then you can invite other people into that safe space. And when you have that self-awareness and the communications skills to start asking for what you want, having boundaries, being able to say no powerfully, change your mind, those things – when you have those skills and can start creating that safe space for yourself in social situations, you can invite people in who may not have those skill sets the way that you do, and then all of a sudden you’re role-modeling for them that it’s safe to come into the water.
Reid: And then they can be with you in a way – again, that most people aren’t experiencing on a day-to-day basis – which allows you to be the one who is generating or initiating the intimacy. Again, this is so nourishing, and so needed in today’s lives. And it’s not difficult, although it can be scary. Because being vulnerable feels vulnerable – and a lot of people are like, “Aaaaugh!”
Cathy: You can start with baby steps. You don’t have to go out to someone you don’t know and kind of just bare your soul. You can practice saying hello to a few people and just being really present with that hello, and being present with yourself, and gradually grow it from there.
Reid: Yes. Awesome. I hope that helps. Leave some comments below. Let us know what you think. Tell us – ask us questions. Her! http://TheIntimacyDojo.com!
Cathy: Thanks, Reid.
Reid: You’re welcome. Bye!
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