Have you ever wondered about emotional intimacy and how it influences your life? While your personal sense of pleasure and meaning can be enhanced through emotional intimacy, the power that different types of intimacy can hold in your life and the various levels you are comfortable with during different moments can be difficult to understand. Interestingly, the comfort level for emotional intimacy is a reflection of your childhood.
Your personal experience is enhanced in the interaction of your intimate relationship in a way that cannot be found in any other outlet. The psychologically rewarding experiences begin with and are founded around the family. But, as with negative life events that sometimes occur in childhood such as trauma, your ability to form and maintain an emotionally loving or trusting relationship can be severely diminished. Sometimes, the trauma may leave you with a reduced tolerance of intimacy, or even the inability to receive enjoyment from the familiarity and affection.
Since it is well known that childhood strongly influences the adult life experience, many people turn to psychotherapy to understand how early life events and social learnings continue to influence adult interactions. For some, the therapeutic relationship can become an emotionally intimate connection the teaches about the process of enhanced intimacy with others.
There is an intimacy equation that illustrates an individual’s ability to create and maintain any intimate relationship within his or her lifetime. As I worked with individuals and couples, the equation helped my clients view where the conflict in life may come from. In this way, I was able to help each person view the enhancement of his or her intimate relationships through personal healing.
Imagine a mathematical equation with two sides. On the left side of the equals sign, two categories of intimacy are listed – physical and emotional. On the right side of the equation, three zones of intimacy experiences are itemized. One the left side, there can be hundreds of sub categories. Examples could include shaking hands on first meeting a person or the physical intimacy of sexual intercourse; while under emotional, you could list greeting someone, falling in love, commitment, and deep friendship. Under the right side’s three zones are listed comfortable, excessive, and insufficient. The right side notifies you of the quantity and intensity of those intimacies on the left at any given or specific moment.
To demonstrate how the equation works, you may remember times in your life when you felt a need for more intimacy. This would place your left listed experience in the insufficient intimacy zone on the right. There may be other times you feel overwhelmed by too much intimacy, so your experience would be listed in the excessive category. When you feel the right amount of intimacy filling your life, and you are comfortable with where you are at in relationships, your experience would fit into the comfortable zone placement.
Since humans are creatures that strive for the comfort level and intimacy they are accustomed to, it is easy to see how you may strive to find and maintain your comfort level for any intimate contact you may have. That means that if you grew up with a wide range of intimate childhood associations within your family and friends, you will likely look for and feel comfortable with the same in your adult life. However, if you found little emotional closeness in your childhood, you may tend to fear closeness or intimacy and keep people at bay for fear of rejection or harshness.
Psychotherapy can help you broaden the range of intimacy you are comfortable with as it enhances the quality of life you live as you accept more intimacy into your life.