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Intimacies beyond sex

 
 
Types of Intimacy
We have observed at our presentations that the first thing most people think about when hearing the word intimacy is sex. That is no surprise. What is surprising is the trouble many people have coming up with other types of intimacies. Let’s look at some of the other ways humans are intimate with each other beyond sex.

Emotional Intimacy:
I have heard women make the comment that men can’t share their feelings. As a man I would like to make an untested observation (that means it is a guess – not a theory). It is said that women tend to handle physical pain better than men. This makes sense to me as men are not designed to go through child birth; however, scientific tests show mixed results on this issue. It is my guess that women, being built differently from men, might have some ways of dealing with pain that men don’t. This seems to be a reasonable biological necessity.

In hunter/gatherer groups the men are primarily the hunters and it is normally the women who do the gathering. It would seem that when facing a dangerous animal with a spear or other such weapon, that overcoming fear – a strong emotion – might provide a selective advantage. If a member of the tribe was killed in the hunt, going out on subsequent hunts would be quite difficult were it not for the ability to overcome fear.

I bring up this idea only to provide a new perspective for discussion. Can an innate survival trait fairly be labeled as a social deficit? It is my contention, for what ever reason, that as women handle physical pain, men handle emotional pain.
Note To Guys: You may not be too happy with the idea that women might handle pain better than you, but that’s the fear talking. You try to pass a bowling ball sometime.

For the record I say that men can share emotionally intimate experiences. I have seen men together watching sports on TV. That is an emotionally intimate experience that can be as exhausting as sex. I’m not a racing fan, but closed -track, stock car auto racing sure seems to have a large and emotional male following. My basic point is that men have emotional relationships, but they are usually not like women’s emotional relationships.
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Intellectual Intimacy:
We are willing to bet that sometime in your academic history, from elementary school to the present, you had at least one teacher with whom you clicked. One who saw your interest and aptitude in a subject and encouraged you to go as far as you wanted. A teacher that pushed you and you didn’t care because you were both passionate about the subject. That was an intellectually intimate relationship. It can also happen between peers, people with similar knowledge levels that feed each other’s passions.

Two people that shared an intellectual intimacy were the Curies. Marie Skłodowska Curie and her husband Pierre Curie shared the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics. Madam (Mrs.) Curie went on to win a second Nobel Prize for chemistry, becoming the first person to win two Nobels and the first of only two people to win Nobels in two different fields. The other winner was Linus Pauling for chemistry and peace.
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Spiritual Intimacy:
We are not going to define spirituality here because we don’t believe there is a single definition. An amazing variety of organized spirituality exists from large organizations to small groups (congregations, covens, monasteries etc.) to single practitioners.

Major organized religious traditions (in reverse alphabetical order)
Zoroastrianism, Yazdânism, Wicca, Unitarian Universalism, Taoism, Sikhism, Shinto, Samaritanism, Rastafari, Neo Paganism, Mithraism, Mazdakism, Manichaeism, Mandaeans, Judaism, Jainism, Islam, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Falun Gong, Din-i-Ilahi, Confucianism, Church of All Worlds, Christianity, Buddhism, Bhakti, Bahá'í Faith, Bábism, Ayyavazhi etc.
NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list. It does not include tribal religions of Native Americans, African tribes or other tribes of any continent.

The above list is incomplete. The above list covers most population centers around the world. The point is, spirituality is important to people. Asking questions of the nature of our existence is cross cultural. Why are we here? Where did it all come from? What does it all mean? How do I fit in? These questions come up for most people. Many people look to organized religion for answers. Others meditate, write poetry, practice yoga, or explore altered states of mind using drugs. Some come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter and just go about their lives.

People on similar spiritual paths can find comfort and understanding in each others company. At best it can lead to a deep and loving relationship based on compassion and shared discovery. We have to acknowledge that there is a lot of “juice” in spirituality because it is so universal. It is not surprising then, that people can become involved in a spiritual intimacy.
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Our Guess and this is a guess…
We have discussed four types of intimacy:
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
Our guess is that in a stable line family, every member would share at least two of the intimacies from the above list. It could be three intimacies, or even all four. All four is probably a little unusual. A single shared intimacy is problematic. We're looking for long term relationship potential. Here’s how we break down single intimate connections:
  • Sexual only is like the initial chemistry between people that causes the initial excitement that eventually wears off.
  • Emotional only could be a best friend.
  • Intellectual only is a student/teacher relationship.
  • Spiritual only is a relationship with a guru or preacher.
All of these relationships are good, but we think it takes more to be a line family member. But that’s just our guess.
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Men on couch watching sports