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The main forms of intimacy are emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. The meaning of intimacy varies from relationship to relationship, and within a given relationship. Intimacy has more to do with shared moments than sexual interactions. Intimate feelings may be connected or confused with sexual arousal. Intimacy is linked with feelings of closeness, safety, trust and transparency among partners in a collaborative relationship. For intimacy to be sustainable and nourishing it also requires trust, transparency and rituals of connection. It is possible to compete over intimacy but that is likely to be self-defeating. Intimacy requires empathy – the ability to stand in the other’s shoes.


Intimacy is both the ability and the choice to be close, loving and vulnerable. Intimacy requires identity development. You have to know yourself and your inner self in order to share your self with another. Knowing yourself makes it possible to stand for yourself in an intimate relationship without taking over the other or losing yourself to the other. This ability to be separate and together in an intimate relationship and being okay with that is called self-differentiation. Lacking the ability to differentiate one self from the other is a form of symbiosis. This too is different from intimacy though to some that kind of dependent closeness may feel the same.


From a center of self knowledge and self differentiation intimate behavior joins family, close friends as well as those with whom one is in love. It dwells in a reciprocity, which builds on self-disclosure and candor. However, poor development of intimacy can lead to getting too close too quickly; struggling to find the boundary and to sustain connection; being poorly skilled as a friend, rejecting self-disclosure or even rejecting friendships and those who have them.


Some lose themselves in the first flush of love. ‘Falling in love’ is a little different from intimacy. Some are engulfed by their families in a way that is not close or intimate even though it is described that way by those who are consumed by their family. The first flush of love can be like that too, but slowly the individual will assert themselves and this tests the willingness of both to be intimate.


Secrets are generally hostile to intimacy in a committed relationship, but not knowing of the existence of a secret, one can continue to believe there is intimacy. Maintaining the illusion of intimacy may be a strategic skill where there is an imbalance of power brought about by the existence of a secret. Knowledge is the currency of power. Betrayal of intimacy can be a traumatic experience. The person can feel cheated as well as humiliated.


Marriage counseling can help repair and restore the balance. (Premarital counseling is ideal.)


Contact us by email at to ask questions about intimacy counseling, or schedule an appointment, or by phone:


Lakeland call 863-709-8110

Winter Haven call 863-292-8292

Davenport call 863-292-8292

Frostproof call 888-467-3925


We are located in Lakeland Florida.


Our caring staff will be more than happy to assist you.