An Introduction To Intimacy: What is Intimacy?

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Information about An Introduction To Intimacy: What is Intimacy?

Published on July 12, 2009

Author: rbuchmann



This presentation introduces basic concepts of intimacy in a relationship. Although the points here can apply to romantic relationships, they also work for friendships as well. Intimacy is defined and explained and points are punctuated with clips from popular movies.

The Intimacy Workshop Series

• Former St. Brigid staff pastoral counselor from 2004-2006. • USD graduate with MA in Pastoral Care & Counseling (2005). • Alliant Int‟l University graduate with MA in Marriage & Family Therapy (2007). • Currently an intern at a local agency and in private practice.

• • pcc = Pastoral Counseling Center

• Part 1 - An Introduction to Intimacy (What is…?) • Part 2 - The 7 Levels of Intimacy (How to…?)

Next Workshop: July 28, 2009 7-9pm

• • Search on “introduction to intimacy” • Movie clips will not be available.

What does intimacy look like in a relationship?

What are some characteristics of healthy relationships that you have observed among your friends or parents?

People think intimacy can be experienced by having SEX!


“Intimacy is  The recursive experience…  …of open self-confrontation (vulnerability)…  …of core aspects of the self…  …in the presence of a partner.” --David Schnarch Author of Passionate Marriage

Relevant Point: Intimacy starts from within.

• “You will experience intimacy only to the extent that you are prepared to reveal yourself.” • “We are most lovable not when we are pretending to have it all together, but in our raw and imperfect humanity.” Matthew Kelly Author of The 7 Levels of Intimacy

• “Unwilling to reveal ourselves, we remain always alone.” • “We want to be loved, but we hold back thinking that our faults will be judged and used as an excuse to oust us.” Matthew Kelly Author of The 7 Levels of Intimacy

“The very things we fear that others may learn about us are the very things that bring us closer together.” Ryan Buchmann Not an author …yet

“The Incredibles”

The Four Aspects of the Human Person

• Entails knowledge of one‟s feelings  Being able to identify when one is experiencing an emotion.  The ability to label the emotion which one is experiencing.  The ability to know the source of the emotion.

“What Dreams May Come”

• Knowing how you think and what you believe to be true.  To which beliefs to do you hold rigidly? To which do you hold flexibly?  What drives, inspires, and motivates your beliefs?  What is the source of your beliefs?  What experiences did you undergo to form your beliefs?

“Before Sunrise”

• Easy to do: a smile, a handshake, an embrace, a kiss on the cheek. • As a couple we hold hands, walk arm in arm, or snuggle. • Physical intimacy entails connecting with someone through any of the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste.


• When physical intimacy is established too quickly, it begins to stunt the growth of the relationship. • We begin judge the quality and value of our relationship on the basis of physical intimacy.

• Physical intimacy is limited. • Emotional, intellectual, and spiritual intimacies are limitless. • If you want to truly experience the upper reaches of physical intimacy, you must explore and develop the depths of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual intimacy first.

“Good Will Hunting”

• Each person does everything within their power to become their most authentic self. • The authentic self is the very person that God created us to be. • The authentic self is directly connected to our essential purposein life. What we do should radiate our authenticity.

The Problem People often fail to be authentic.

The Problem Why?? Because authenticity is rarely modeled for us.

• Prior to the Fall of Man in Gen 3, man and woman could stand before God “naked without shame.” • After the Fall, the effects of Original Sin cause a resistance to be vulnerable before God.

• Humans perpetually exist and labor in the shadow of Original Sin; the rip current flows in the direction of death.

• We should strive to swim toward God and resist the current by vulnerably presenting our naked selves to God— sins, flaws, and all.

• If you cannot be vulnerable before God who loves you perfectly and unconditionally…

• …what makes you think you can be vulnerable with another person, who will love you conditionally and imperfectly?

• You must be able to be vulnerable with God before you can be vulnerable with somebody else. Otherwise, there is no authenticity.

[Jesus] called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:1-3

“Tuesdays with Morrie”

“True holiness is achieved by being your most authentic self.” Ryan Buchmann

• Deeper Self vs. Apparent Self

• Solid Self (Deeper Self)  Made up of firmly held convictions and beliefs.  Formed slowly and can be changed from within self, but never changed by coercion or persuasion by others.  The core beliefs of the solid self define who a person is.  e.g. your sexual orientation

• Pseudo Self (Apparent Self)  Made up of knowledge incorporated by the intellect and of principles and beliefs acquired from others (from outside self).  Negotiable in relationship with others.  Can be changed by emotional pressure to enhance one’s image with others or to oppose the other.  e.g. One’s religious faith

• Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise “Earlier this week, stunning Katie, who was raised a Catholic, admitted she had been studying Scientology. The brunette babe, who has been romancing twice-married Tom for just two months, revealed she wanted to share the same faith as the actor. She said: „Yes, I am taking classes and I'm really excited about it. „I have looked into it myself and I really like it and I think it's really wonderful. I feel like I'm bettering myself‟.”

Media Clip “White Oleander”

• Relationship is a primary human drive. Another drive is toward an autonomous self. • People move toward relationship to insure survival of self and to procreate. • People move toward autonomy to establish one‟s individual identity and one‟s place in the world.

• For humans, survival is more than physical. It also addresses the needs for comfort, safety, and emotional relatedness. • The drive for relationship is reflective of our deepest human longings.

The Delicate Balance  Human beings must delicately balance the drive for relationship with the drive for autonomy.

The Delicate Balance  Togetherness urges us toward others for attachment, aff iliation, and for approval.  Finds expression in companionship, fa mily, and society itself.

The Delicate Balance  Individuality is defining one’s self as separate from others.  Individual beliefs, choices, personal autonomy.

The Delicate Balance Balancing between individuality (autonomy) and togetherness (relationship) creates a constant tension. Relationship Togetherness Individuality

• A person over-oriented toward individuality becomes self-absorbed and set in their ways. Togetherness Individuality

• A person over-oriented toward togetherness becomes dependent on others for a sense of self. Individuality Togetherness

The Delicate Balance  The ability to maintain a constant self-defined identity under pressure is called differentiation.  Intimacy occurs when two differentiated selves connect at some level (physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually). Togetherness Individuality

Self-Validated Intimacy  The ability to validate one’s own experience/existence…  …in the face of pressure from the other/partner…  …without cutting off…  …is called self-validated intimacy.

“The Incredibles”

“The Incredibles”

“The Incredibles”

“The Incredibles”

A Healthy Relationship In short, a healthy relationship is formed when  two people who each have a healthy sense of their identity…  …come together willing to regularly and openly confront their authentic self…  …in the presence of their partner.

Trying to Conform  Commonly held beliefs about intimacy result from the romantic notion that being loved by another will provide us with an intimate experience.  This notion is referred as other- validated intimacy.

Trying to Conform  In reality, the very proximity of the other is threatening to the self.  The fear that one could be abandoned or rejected by our significant other puts pressure on the self to conform to the perceived needs or desires of the other.

Trying to Conform  The anxious focus on the other detracts from the focus on self- definition that is critical to the experience of intimacy.  The resultant loss of self weakens the intimacy bond and forms an unhealthy dependence.

In Review  The ability to validate one’s own experience/existence in the face of pressure from the other/partner without cutting off is called self- validated intimacy.  When one looks to the partner for reassurance and definition, that is called other-validated intimacy.

Media Clip “Sexual Healing - Carlos & Kellie”

Small Group Questions 1. What do you think are the potential causes for the lack of intimacy in Carlos and Kellie’s relationship? 2. What do you think they should do to correct these problems? 3. How can these problems be avoided?

Questions for the Speaker

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