The last few weeks in counseling, I have been working on intimacy with my clients. Perhaps the most misunderstood word, I often think of the old line from the Princess Bride, “That word, I don’t think it means what you think it means”. What is the meaning of intimacy.
There are four types of intimacy that I have been teaching. Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Spiritual. Physical does not always equate to sexual, another concept our society grossly misunderstands.
Humans are odd creatures. I personally feel we are weirder than platypuses (platypussies?). We are useless for roughly the first 18 months of our lives and our lives are greatly determined how we navigate the first 4 years. Of course, this is far too simplistic of an explanation, but it works.
As parents, we have a lot to do those first four years. Creating a healthy understanding of intimacy for our kids sets them up for the future. What did you do at school today encourages intellectual intimacy. It also encourages emotional intimacy and maturity. It then sets the ball in motion for that kid to be a successful teenager and mitigates identity confusion. It also creates an emotionally safe space which mitigates the fighting often portrayed between the teen and their parent.
Done correctly, establishing proper intimacy prepares the young person to navigate a healthy relationship with their future spouse.