Boundaries of Intimacy

Boundaries of Intimacy

I am not sure how the usage of the word “intimacy” became synonymous with sex, but in most circles it has. We hear it on the news, in public presentations, and in articles. While I believe “making love” by definition is an act of intimacy, having sexual intercourse itself is not necessarily. As we know, these two may be very different. The point here is that I am not currently writing about “sex”.

I want to explore the issue of intimacy in a broader sense. In fact when I refer to intimacy in my clinical practice I spell it – “in-to-me-see”.  This type of intimacy provides us with opportunity to open ourselves wide and let the other person in, to experience our thoughts and our emotions…our dreams and our nightmares.

One thing I have noticed about in-to-me-seeis that we all operate with limited intimacy boundaries. Those boundaries may be of a general nature or specific to the person with whom we are engaged.

Generally, there seems to be a spectrum on which people feel confortable.

Some people simply do not let others in, nor do they wish to become close to others.  These people tend to feel uncomfortable interacting with others and almost feel it an affront to have others share their deep thoughts and feelings with them. When confronted with others the level of their discomfort seems to match the level of that which is being shared. This person’s intimacy boundaries are quite tight and brittle.

On the other end of the spectrum we find people who yearn to see and be seen. Their level of openness and flexibility can either positively draw in others like a shop vacuum or push them away like a leaf blower.

Specifically, every relationship we are in is at a different level of intimacy. I believe that level is ever-adjusting with each person in our life and it is possibly even different each day with the same people; sort of like the ever-changing temperature outside (perhaps unless you live in Hawaii). My guess is that most of us are typically unaware of our own personal variance.

Are you satisfied with the level of in-to-me-seein your life? If we wish we had more I wonder how willing we are to make a change? Focus for a moment on any one of your relationships. Let’s presume for a moment that you would like to be more intimate. Who sets up the intimacy “fence” between the two of you? Do you find the other person trying to shorten the distance between you? Or is that your job? Do you wait for the other person to revealhimself or herself or do you take ownership of the situation and make the first move?

Might it be interesting to experiment with in-to-me-see? The experience could become profound. This begs an answer to the old question: “who do you know well enough to call at 2:00 a.m. if you had an emergency”? Yes opening our boundaries of intimacy can be a profound experience, even if it is scary.

Tim Berry

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  1. Bernadette Stechman:

    I loved this. I learned a lot about who I am and what the in-to-me-see means.
    P.S. The dogs’ picture was priceless.