Into Me See

Posted on November 29, 2012


Intimacy has become a euphemism for sexual intercourse.  When we speak of a couple being intimate (or not) what we usually mean is, “Are they having sex together?”  Though sex is certainly a wonderful part of the intimacy couples share, it is not intimacy in and of itself.  Sometimes one or both partners will attempt to recreate the missing emotional intimacy through sex.  More often, when couples are not experiencing emotional intimacy, their sex life is reduced, less satisfying, or nonexistent.

But this is not a post about sex, it is about intimacy.  I attended a seminar in which one speaker defined the word intimacy as “into me, see.”  I found this a very insightful definition.  Emotional intimacy involved close personal connection.  It is a state of openness and vulnerability, in which defenses are down.  It allows one to know and be fully known.  “Into me, see.”  “See who I really am.  Love me as I am.”  To allow oneself to be this vulnerable requires a level of emotional safety and security in the relationship.

If you ask most couples about their courtship, you will generally find that what drew them together in the first place was a sense of emotional intimacy.  There may have been a strong physical attraction, but it is usually not the physical attractiveness that caused each of them to commit to spending the rest of their lives together.  It was a sense of connection, an emotional intimacy, a sense of being seen and loved as you are.

By the time a distressed couple presents for counseling, that sense of intimacy has been lost.  Negative patterns of interaction have left both partners feeling disconnected.  It no longer feels safe to be vulnerable with one’s partner.  Often partners begin to question whether the intimacy they experienced at the beginning of the relationship was real.  When the closeness in the early part of the relationship has been absent for a long time, it is frightening to reach for your partner.  Emotional wounds accumulated during the relationship and even childhood attachment injuries can make it difficult to connect and difficult to remember what it was like to feel close and connection.

Here is the good news.  First, the intimacy you experienced at the beginning of the relationship was real.  In the middle of distress it might feel like it was never real, but it was.  That was real intimacy.  That is why it felt so good.  Second, you can get it back and have it be better than before.  It takes courage and commitment from both partners (and often support from a therapist).  Breaking out of the cycles that prevent you from experiencing connection can be difficult.  Healing past wounds requires a willingness to risk vulnerability.  We are made for relationship.  Human beings do very poorly in isolation.  It is possible to be around other people (including a spouse) and still feel isolated.  We need connection.  Restoring intimacy is a prize worth pursuing.

“I work with individuals, couples, and families to help develop secure connections
and craft manageable solutions.”

More information is available on my website  I am also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats

Scott Wood is a registered marriage and family therapist intern (IMF67385) and is supervised by Dr. Melinda Reinicke, Psychologist (Psy11011).