Intimacy may look different to everyone, but there’s no doubt about its powerful role in our lives. What it requires. What it demands. What it provides.
It molds, shifts, and evolves with us and our needs, creating just what we need, how we need it, and when we need it. And often before we can ever really name what it is.
Exploring their own definitions and relationship to intimacy, Hari shows us that intimacy affects how we see ourselves and those around us–it is rooted in our relationships with each other. But for them, “it’s starting in personal relationships but eventually building a world where intimacy is a community goal and experience.”
Intimacy is about vulnerability. The people who make you feel safe when you are with them. I don’t limit it to romantic or sexual relationships at all. My most illuminating experiences have been with friends and family, though there should obviously be intimacy in romantic relationships.
Intimacy is the willingness to protect someone or hold them when they are vulnerable, figuratively or literally. You’re giving them the space to be alive because life has to happen in one place or another, and you’re making it safe for them. That’s the root of all great relationships; the ability to be there for someone else.
When I feel like I’m having a panic attack, it feels like everything around me in the world is breaking. But intimacy is the complete opposite: nothing can hurt you and you can relax. In that moment of relaxation, you don’t have to worry about anything like work. The other person’s presence calms you. The reason that’s able to happen is because I know that whatever stability I need or I’m stressing out about in order to sustain, my partner will have at least some of those things handled.
The best thing about having a big family–I have 18 siblings–is that I’ve always been able to disappear and go off the grid, if I want. It’s not that they forget about me, it’s just that no one is expected to always be around. I’m able to have my own little space carved out. Even in relationships, well, especially in relationships, it’s important for me to have this space where I can go. And that’s part of intimacy too. The person I’m in a relationship with is the only person I let know where that space is, but it is still my space.
Intimacy is the willingness to protect someone or hold them when they are vulnerable, figuratively or literally…giving them the space to be alive.
When I think about what has prevented me from being able to love and connect with others like I really want to, it is whiteness. The way things like love and intimacy have been turned into this commodity that has to look a certain way. It has to benefit you materially, without thinking about emotional or spiritual benefits. It’s really fucking tough. And it is even harder to do that in a city like New York.
In New York, you have to work your ass off to live in a closet, which gets in the way of the time you can spend with those you love. It gets in the way of developing healthy relationships where you’re not adding to each other’s stress because of what you have to deal with just on a day-to-day. If we could instead live in a world where people gave and did selflessly without feeling like if they gave too much they would dry up, then that would be beautiful. I’m trying to figure out how we can create models that resemble that while acknowledging that this is the world that we live in currently.
I still think of relationships as an investment in many ways like you would a financial investment. But I don’t think love can be contained in that capitalistic model, even though that’s the language we might have for it right now. I want to create new languages, but I struggle with that while living and loving in the world we are in; love and relationships often feel transactional. It should feel like being able to be intimate with anyone.
I don’t think I’m at the level to walk down the street and trust someone to hold me when I’m vulnerable. So it takes building a society where that trust doesn’t result in you being stabbed in the back. I think we’re very far from that but we can start at a micro level and work our way up. That’s what I try to do in relationships with my friends, while giving them the space they need. It’s a work in progress.
Ultimately, I see myself as a thing in motion. There are a lots of things that have built me and brought me to this point, but I don’t know what that point is. I don’t’ know how to properly describe it in a way that makes sense to other people. And if I did, the next moment it might be a little different. If I’m trying to locate myself and make sense of myself, it’s just that spot on that journey, however it is described. But at the same time it’s important to embrace that spot on the journey because it’s what makes me different right now at this moment.
I think a lot of people are on similar journeys and embracing a similar point currently. And that point is a lot of things in a lot of different contexts. But I know that it is black. It’s queer. It’s angry. I’m at a point where I am embracing and trying to build a healthy relationship with rage. It’s trying to figure out what it means to share space with other people in this world, intimately. It’s starting in personal relationships but eventually building a world where intimacy is a community goal and experience.
I don’t think I’m at the level to walk down the street and trust someone to hold me when I’m vulnerable. So it takes building a society where that trust doesn’t result in you being stabbed in the back.