I used to wait for the moment when dating someone where our belly buttons touched.
This, obviously meant we were A- Laying down, B- Had our tummies exposed, and C- Close enough to let them meet one another. To me, this symbolized a certain level of intimacy – especially since when your stomachs are rubbing up against one another, you’re not exactly sucking in and positioning yourself seductively. (You know, sheet draped about your body, exposing just enough skin to entice, as the sun colors your body at the right angle and you don’t move, pretending you’re asleep, until he comes in and devours you? We’ve all done it, I promise.)
The belly button moment came several, several months ago with Mr. Possibility. I wouldn’t say belly-button-touching was something we necessarily had a problem with – that part of our courtship was rather seemless. There were obviously other issues (which if you access archives, you can find) and it took a while for him to admit and for me to admit to the bounds of exclusivity. As I’ve said, having a boyfriend and calling it that didn’t sit well with me until I finally accepted it. And ultimately, announced it to the many lovely readers (and haters) of this blog (and me).
But as our relationship has progressed and I’ve continued to grow up – I’ve come to discover that intimacy has nothing to do with belly buttons. Or sex, really. It doesn’t have to do with the act of physically being naked and maybe this is a stretch, but I don’t think it has too much to do with being vulnerable. Intimacy – true intimacy – is based on being remarkably comfortable, having the framework of trust that’s tested and true, and has more to do with you than it has to do with them.
It is impossible to be intimate with someone (as in coming as you are, makeup and push-up free) without being secure in yourself. The majority of us have been wrapped up in the smell of sex and attraction the next morning, plotting the best track to the bathroom, without waking up the guy, so we could freshen up before he wanted round two (insert Bridesmaids opening scene here). I’ve admittedly felt that way far into dating, and even into a relationship. It wasn’t until I found peace in my looks and in the flaws that make those looks beautiful that I stopped caring if Mr. Possibility -or any guy who may come after him – sees me as less than perfect. I’m not perfect, but neither are they.
But being Clinique-free doesn’t define intimacy either – that’s just the part we most associate with reaching intimate levels. The real test of intimacy is a test we give ourselves, often encouraged by our friends who grow weary of our complaints, insecurities, and late-night texting sprees induced by Mr. Vodka and his old pal, tonic.
Being intimate with your partner means being stable enough to know when to stand up for yourself. When to say, “No, this is not enough for me. I need this from you because I know you and I care about you.” If you can’t ask for what you need with the person you’re the closest too, who sees your acne before it comes to the surface, who hears your irrational emotional outbursts, waits for them to pass and then holds you until you fall asleep – then you’re not really intimate with that person, you’re just keeping them around. If you can’t express your desires other than the ones that are sexual, then you haven’t reached a level of intimacy, you’ve only just orgasmed. And let’s be real – it’s easier to do that alone than it is to do with a man, until you train him.
It’s not simple to reach intimacy, I’d go as far to say some couples who race to the altar, haven’t found their intimate level yet. A big part of it is respecting your partner, but the most important element is respecting yourself. And if you know what it is that makes you tick, what you need out of a relationship, and what part of your body and your heart needs to correlate to the other person, then you know how to ask for it. You know how to express yourself in a way that will not only make falling in love easy, but make the tougher stage – staying in love – easier. And it’ll make the sexual part of intimacy…that much more…intimate.
I agree there is much more to intimacy than sex, but the question is can you have intimacy without sex? Maybe, but it is hard, in particular when you get well down the path of the “staying in love” phase. At that point physical intimacy naturally will occur less often, but let it go too far and that feeling of closeness, security, and comfort that make up intimacy will begin to fade. This is dangerous ground so i would argue while it isn’t everything sex does have something to do with intimacy.
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