We all have our own ideas of what intimacy is and should be. And although it may be hard to reach a point of consensus, most of those ideas have one thing in common: intimacy is something that is special and shared between two or more people.

Hany agrees.

But he also pushes us to realize that intimacy, which he defines as “a connection, a vibe,” is not only meant to be shared, but that when it is, it can completely shift our views on love and trust.

Intimacy is a complete mental connection. Even sex is completely different without that connection. I never knew that before until recently. Sex for sex is just an act, doing the motion, with a goal of finishing. But sex with intimacy is an unforgettable connection, pleasure. It’s the process as opposed to the end goal–enjoying the ride as opposed to getting it over and done with.

Intimacy is also something that can be cultivated with more than one person in different ways. There’s a difference between romantic intimacy and dating with the goal of marriage versus intimacy with different people for the sake of connecting. And what can be frustrating is the idea that some women don’t believe that a man can be in an intimate relationship with women that doesn’t involve sex. Sometimes I don’t want to be in a relationship because the women who want to date me are often so territorial and restrictive that they don’t think it’s okay for me to be friends with other women.

But I’ve also learned that it really depends on the woman and how she views intimacy and connecting with others. I’ve found that some women I’ve connected with in the past romantically are completely unbothered and quite okay with me having friends that are women. It’s because they recognize that intimacy is more of a connection, a vibe. It’s something that we all need and doesn’t have to always lead to sex or a romantic relationship. They understand that we all want to connect, and that my connection with them doesn’t negatively affect my connection with her.

Intimacy is an unforgettable connection, pleasure. It’s the process as opposed to the end goal–enjoying the ride as opposed to getting it over and done with.

Recently, I’ve also realized that there are different ways of showing love and intimacy that I didn’t think of before. For example, I used to have a very specific idea of what love was. Everything had to be and feel perfect. I put the other person on such a high pedestal that it was as if they nearly shit flowers or something.

But I’ve learned that love isn’t about perfection and that it can also be shown through little actions, sacrifices. It can be learning to truly connect with another person through listening, first thinking about how you can help  and understand them, instead of doing what you want to do because you think it’s right or want to do it.

In all of my relationships, what’s most important to me is being able to add value and make someone better. That’s where I put all my effort, whether it’s a friend or a girlfriend. Some of my friends ignore my advice as a reflex because they knew me when I was younger and acted a lot differently than I do now.

But it’s also because they’re not used to being with a person who means what they say or is comfortable with being vulnerable enough to openly admit that I don’t know. I wasn’t always like that. I’ve had to learn that, but doing so has taught me the power of seeking understanding first, and then being understood, second, which is an essential part of trust–and that’s what love and intimacy is all about.