Family sitting in hammockI’ve been giving a lot of thought to intimacy lately, both as I spend time in planning an intimate wedding celebration with close friends and loved ones, and as I continue to expand my focus on connection and intimacy in marketing that really makes an impact. As we’ve expanded our use of online media and have the tools to systematize just about anything, taking a stand for intimacy is actually rather innovative.

The dictionary defines intimacy as a close, familiar, or affectionate personal relationship, or an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like.

When I think of intimacy, I think of the definition that my friend Kristi shared with me as I was working on revising my personal mission for my business from a focus on freedom to a focus on intimacy and connection. She said intimacy = into me see.

If you think about it, this makes total sense. We feel intimacy when someone gives us a view into who they are really are. Similarly, create intimacy when we let people see us. The real us.

(Incidentally, living in alignment means you’re never worried about letting people see the real you, because you are who you are who you are).

So what happens when you don’t want to be seen? And, is more intimacy always better?

I recently traveled back to Cincinnati, OH, which is where I lived when I started my business, and where I lived for 15 years. It’s the second time I’ve been back since moving to Colorado. The first time was for a speaking engagement.

In heading back, I needed to make some decisions about who I wanted to see while I was there, and why. I knew I didn’t want to spend the whole visit running from place to place and feeling overwhelmed so I chose to be selective. Who did I want to build intimacy with?

I chose a handful of people I wanted to connect with, primarily based on looking at who had also made an effort to maintain a relationship with me, and who I could most see being a part of my future.

On my trip back home I was reflecting on the different relationships. Some people had a high level of intimacy. We shared our current goals and dreams, our struggles or concerns, and our feelings about and appreciation for the friendship. We looked each other in the eye and connected. Others were lower intimacy. We talked a bit about what’s new, past common experiences, and the city and the weather.

Is one relationship better than another in this scenario? I can tell you that for me the relationships with a greater level of intimacy feel more important to maintain. When someone really shows themselves, I can’t help but to feel more connected to them.

That said, what if there were a place for each type of relationship?

In the relationships that remain more surface, it is nothing more than one person not feeling safe to be fully seen. There is a guard up against allowing the other person to see into the depths of who they are. Either because they don’t trust the person, or they are in their own shame.

We’ve all been there in a place where showing it all didn’t quite feel safe. And while the goal of the clients who are working with me is to step into a place where they are willing to be fully seen, you don’t have to show it all to just anyone. And there will be times in your life when you are not prepared to be seen, and that is OK too.

We have stages of hiding and stages of showing up. There are times when we can choose to put up a barrier to shield ourselves from the risk of judgment. When our ideas aren’t fully formed. When we’re feeling less than 100%. When the person on the other end hasn’t done their own work to be a safe space. Or when we’ve simply gone out of resonance with someone else and we are not committed to bring it back.

Being someone who creates intimacy doesn’t mean you have to be transparent everywhere, or go deep with everyone. You get to choose where to give your intimacy.

To me the goal is to be conscious of what you’re choosing. If you’re hiding, hide consciously. If you’re connecting, connect with intention. Refuse to judge yourself if you don’t show up allowing everyone to see into your soul every time. Trust the essence of who you are to come through. Play around with letting people in and blocking them out based on your own decision. And most importantly, see yourself as whole.

What has been your experience with intimacy and being fully seen? I’d love to hear! Please share your comments below!

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