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Defining Intimacy

Freshly off reading a story and a comment thread by my friend LaoTzu ("Let Me Pose a Question") and it got me thinking... how do we define intimacy? by acts, by attitude, by a feeling?

I have known so little intimacy in my marriage -- yes, sex, but also just simple closeness.  My X had so many strategies to put distance between us when I would want to be close.  Pick fights, refuse sex or conversation, have a chore to do, point out my faults, tell me something one of the kids did that needed dealing with so I would forget that I was seeking to connect with him, a video game that needed finishing/winning, come home late from work so we had no alone time, make fun of me, tell me I'm too "everything" (needy, talkative, open) and basically all sorts of strategies to close down any intimacy we could have had.  Looking back I see it much more clearly.  He really couldn't give anyone what I so craved, not just me.  In fairness I wasn't so great at giving it or receiving it when we first got together either.  My emotional growth wasn't there.  So it kind of worked at first.  I think I thought he wanted it too but like me hadn't gotten there yet and that we would grow together to reach there.  Instead I wanted something he feared.  So I spent my marriage making him feel I wanted something he was terrified of and me sad and empty.  We were incompatible.  We literally and simply wanted different things.

I know it when I feel it.  I know it when I am simply in the moment, nothing else in the world in my awareness in that moment except the connection between you and me.  Knowing it when I feel it is easy for me.  It only requires self-awareness and a willingness to accept what is present.

After the moment that is so intimate I find myself wanting to reality-check it.  Did that really happen?  I felt that deep connection and it felt more fulfilling than I imagined it would, so could it be real?  He didn't pick a fight or make fun of me to get away from it.  If anything he had the same contented little sighs I made and wrapped himself around me in the same way I felt.  I am so used to feeling like someone does NOT feel the way I feel and that closeness is something you have to push for that I ask myself "is this a dream?"  Is there actually someone I am deeply invested in who is deeply invested in me and wants the same thing I desire, so we are creating it together?

The answer is yes.  It takes some effort on my part not to wonder if/when the other shoe may drop.  But that lingering doubt takes place when we are apart.  In the moment I am entirely just in the moment and it actually is what I always thought I wanted plus a bit more fulfilling even.  It seems to fill such a soul place for me that doing anything but just being there would be so hurtful to my own self that I couldn't imagine it.

No wonder I was so sad in my marriage.  It really didn't meet my most basic needs.
Changewilldoyougood Changewilldoyougood 31-35, F 4 Responses Nov 29, 2012

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Unlearning behaviours / feelings / re-actions that were common in ones dysfunctional relationship is always a challenge in a new relationship.

Challenges are good.

Make you think. Make you choose. Fear them not. Embrace them.

Tread your own path.

To me intimacy between partners is everything from holding hands, hugging, kissing, showing appreciation for and offering comfort to each other, even somethng as simple as offering an encouraging look or a pat on the back. Basically, it's sharing yourself with someone you love. Giving and recieving positive reinforcement and signs of love to each other. Sex is not the only part of an intimate relationship. It is an important part but it can not exsist without the other parts. Physical limitations can be overcome. Penatration/Erection/****** is not the only way to be intimate and it certainly is not a requirement for a healthy relationship.

Love your stories, Change, and particularly love the way you are showcasing your personal growth and the way your life is changing for the better. Thanks!

I am writing a story today that has elements in it of what you describe. It is "Old habits die hard". Please check it out.

This is beautiful, Changewilldoyougood. Sounds like you find yourself in a good place right now. I am sad in my marriage. Sad every day. My husband puts distance between us through use of power, humiliation and his migraines. But only when we are alone. No one would believe the things he says or does in private. Not when he is openly affectionate with me in public. My fifteen year old son has caught a few things, though. He does try to keep up the act in front of them, but sometimes he slips. My son once scolded him for what he said to me. It was a low point in my life. I don't want my son to feel like he has to stand up for me. I want him to be the kid. It's not full out abuse, but he is playing games with me. Power games.

That sounds like verbal and emotional abuse. Read "The Verbally Abusive Relationship". It helped me realize that what I had was not normal and was not healthy in relationships. It does a good job of telling those of us who may be confused about how things should really go in a relationship or who think long term love is stale or cold or indifferent to see things differently. Author is Patricia Evans.

buying it right now, thank you.

I just can't believe I would live with abuse and I don't want to make our issues into something more than they are.

And, I am in a good place right now. I have had some not so good times and some very low times during the end of the marriage. I had some rebuilding to do and some restructuring of the way I see relationships before I could be open to something that feels like this. My experiences in the past tell me that even something that seems quite good can turn out not to be with time. As Lao says, intimacy is a leap of faith. While I've found intimacy before and then had it disappear due to the uncontrollable factor of being in a relationship with another human being that I do not control and their readiness for what I was wanting, I am making a choice to trust this man. More than anyone I've ever known he is chivalrous and kind, loving, attentive and considerate. I know some of us talk about how when they give too much, other people become takers. In my case I am so impressed by his genuine loving behavior that it makes me want to up my game and make sure he feels appreciated for his great efforts.

Oh SweetGreen, I know exactly what you mean. It's hard to accept that you've been accepting this behavior. But when you read the verbally abusive relationship I think you will cry because you recognize so much of your relationship in the descriptions of abuse. K9sportchick, a longtime member here, wrote a story about this book a few months after I read it. Here's the link: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Live-In-A-Sexless-Marriage/2021724 Stay in touch.

SG, this reaction of your's is NORMAL, but it is one of the ways abuse is allowed to flourish. It can flourish because we do not recognise it as abuse - or if we do, we think it is not "sufficiently abusive" to act upon.

It is precisely this sort of thinking that lead to women's groups telling women "Get out at the first hit - don't wait for the evidence to pile up until you are 'truly battered' before you accept you are being abused."

You have not said anything about physical abuse so I think it is verbal and emotional, as Change says. Do you realise that he KNOWS it is abuse? That is why he doesn't do it in public . . . . because he KNOWS others would see him as an abuser.

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