There is a lot of confusion about what intimacy is and there's no exception in gay relationships.
Gay relationship is a challenge in a heterosexual dominated world. Men in particular tend to confuse sex with intimacy. So, if I'm having sex with you then I'm being intimate with you. However, as almost every gay man knows, you can have sex with perfect strangers and never even know each other's name!
Why is intimacy important in gay relationship? After all, many gay men try to live a life of casual sex and freedom from the encumbrance of gay relationships and will strongly defend their lifestyle choices. Yet the capacity for intimacy, which has nothing to do with sex, is the same capacity that allows each of us to love, feel loved and not feel lonely.
Many in the gay community struggle with loneliness and feeling isolated. The emotional and psychological wounding we carry from growing up gay in a heterosexual environment makes the loneliness and isolation even more acute.
If intimacy is not the same as sex then what is intimacy? The best way I know of to define intimacy is this: "The ability for two people to share with each other exactly how they feel in the current moment without fear of rejection or criticism by the other and without the listening person feeling either that they did something wrong, that they are being asked to change, or that they need to rescue the speaker from their suffering." This of course needs to be a two way conversation.
I know that is a mouthful so let me break it into 5 parts:
- How you feel. This is not how you think. A feeling sentence never starts with the word "you" and ideally starts with something like "I feel." "You made me mad," is not a statement of how you feel. It's actually fighting words! It's a great way to start a fight. Instead, say something like, "When you said (or did) ________ I noticed myself feeling angry." That way nobody is blamed and the door is open for an intimate conversation.
- In the current moment. This is important. Saying, "I was mad at you yesterday" is not a statement of how you feel today, it's a historical statement and not relevant to the hear and now. Intimacy is only possible in the current moment!
- As a listener, the statement that starts with "you" probably will make you defensive and you'll try to prove that you are right and the speaker is wrong. The feeling statement leaves you room to be a good listener and then respond with how you feel.
- Listener, this is not about you! Don't assume you are wrong, bad, that you have to change, or that you have to caretake the speaker. All you have to do is be a good listener and try to understand how the other person feels.
- Speaker, it's your turn to be a good listener and likewise not jump to conclusions. And remember, when your partner is telling you how they feel, it is not about you!
Simple, right? Well not really. For most of us it is a re-learning of everything we learned growing up, in school and at work. It is an advanced relationship skill and will seem strange at first. But keep trying. It gets easier and starts feeling normal. Soon both of you will wonder how you ever got along before you learned these skills. Read more about healthy relationships.
If this sounds like you or anybody you know, call me, email me, or simply schedule your own appointment online now. My passion is to help gay men overcome growing up g in a straight world, to embrace their true nature and to create a loving, successful and wonderful life for themselves and their loved ones, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Change is possible. Transform your life into the life you've always dreamed of! Don't wait another day!
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