What is your definition of intimacy? Is it the amount of affection shown by your loved ones? Is it how many times you have sex? Is it how many secrets you know about each other? Is it simply being there for someone in need?
The other day, I realised that I haven’t been intimate with someone in a romantic relationship in a long time. And as I was speaking with a friend about this, a lightbulb went off and my brain stood like a deer in a headlight. I feared that my anxieties about my size were intrinsically linked to my future fear of being intimate with someone new, and how would that intimacy look? My last relationship ended well over a year ago, but during our last months together, we were irritable with each other. He thought that he wasn’t showing me enough affection because we didn’t act like other couples we would pass on the street. And I thought I had ruined our sex life because I had weight issues. And then I thought perhaps that my intimacy issues caused by weight anxieties had spiralled him to be less intimate and affectionate, which then made me feel bad about my weight, feeling like he wasn’t attracted to me. It was a huge puzzle that I just couldn’t figure out, like a weird chicken-and-egg scenario.
When I asked friends, they solved the puzzle loud and clear; he just isn’t right for me. But I was dumbfounded because we still had intimate moments. But was it actual intimacy we had? Were we both measuring intimacy differently the entire time and not realising? Our puzzle pieces just didn’t fit together. We had both mistaken each other in a big way, and the consequence was the end of a relationship.
I have since accepted that my weight had nothing to do with my issues with intimacy; I just need to find a puzzle where I fit as a piece to create the greater picture. And now that I understand how complex intimacy is, I can at least understand how to recognise intimacy in another when the time comes that I meet someone else.
Everyone has their own definition, which means when you go to someone else for advice about relationships, you will never quite get the answer you need. This is merely because they don't know your definition of intimacy, however much you may need that advice and guidance. That's what makes intimacy quite challenging to understand sometimes. It's like playing with a Rubik's cube; you may have one side all the same colour at one point and think you’ve cracked it, but never be able to match up all the sides at the same time, even when you can see logically how you can fix it. If you and someone else have different ideas of what that intimacy looks like, then the sides will never match. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be intimate with each other, it just means understanding how that other person wants their intimacy received.
Intimacy in its complicated image can appear to you as the hardest puzzle to solve; a sudoku if you hate numbers, a crossword if you don’t like facts, a riddle when you don’t like words. But in my belief, the answer is to find someone who is good with numbers or facts or words to solve that puzzle for you, rather than forcing them to try and solve a puzzle which isn't fit for them. However your relationships work, the pair of you are puzzle pieces that will fit together however you know works for you.
This week, we want to know: what are your parent’s attitudes to sex, and specifically your sex life?