Connection Layer Three: Intimacy...

After exploring layers one and two on this journey into connection, we've finally arrived at our destination: the third, and most powerful layer -- intimacy. The concept of intimacy brings forth rather intense thoughts and feelings, both in the physical and emotional realms.

Physically, we most often associate sex with intimacy. Truthfully, it is one of the most physically intimate acts we can engage in, and allows us to connect in a way that is nigh-unparalleled. It isn't the be-all, end-all for physical intimacy, however. An act as "simple" as a hug, or holding someone's hand can be incredibly powerful and intimate -- especially if the person being held has 'physical touch' as a high-ranking love language. What I find most intriguing about physical intimacy is the ways in which men and women differ when expressing it. For example, most women do not think twice about embracing another, whether the other is in distress, or simply needs a pick-me-up. Most physical intimacy with men, however, takes a harsher or more abrupt form. High-fives, "fist pounds", or hugs that involve the least amount of contact, save for a couple of swift claps on the back are commonplace. It's almost as if men keep themselves at a distance from one another, whereas women welcome others in with quite literally open arms. Certainly, this doesn't cover all scenarios, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

Emotional intimacy is most often associated with love; specifically, romantic love. This is no real surprise, as traditionally, those who seek out this level of connection are often partners in life. Again, though, emotional intimacy -- and love itself -- need not fall only to this extreme. Women and men often have platonic relationships in their lives, and we can love others without it being romantic. Once again, I've noted how women are much more open than men in this regard -- at least for the most part.

Intimacy is so powerful because of what it invites and creates within us. To be truly intimate with another -- platonic, romantic, or otherwise -- requires trust. We have to be open in our communication, safe in our vulnerability, and confident in our trust to experience intimacy. When we are open and invite trust into our relationships, we are able to connect with others on the highest of levels, and ultimately create understanding. Not that we can ever truly experience and understand what it is to be someone else, but this level of connection offers us some of the closest insight possible, as that other person has allowed us so deeply into themselves.

Connection is something we all crave, to varying degrees and magnitude. We all need it to survive psychologically and emotionally, and it plays a vital role in how we view ourselves and others around us. It may not be easy for us to bare ourselves to the world, highlighting areas we're not proud of, or inviting potential criticism and judgement. If we close ourselves to these, however, we close ourselves to the beauty that openness, empathy, trust, understanding, love, and appreciation bring about in our lives; one cannot close the door to negativity without closing it to positivity as well. Embrace those you wish to connect with on a deeper level (like, literally -- give them a hug!), and connect with yourself by opening up, becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable, and living your truth for everyone to see. That's the beauty of connection at work.