I recently spent the weekend with a friend and felt an amazing connection. This is someone I have met only twice before, yet it felt like we’d known each other for lifetimes. It felt strange and odd feeling so connected with someone I barely knew, with nothing sexual about the relationship and no neediness from either of us. Just the simple confirmation and joy of a deep connection with another person, and reflection from an equally beautiful woman.
Part of what made this connection so strong was a natural intimacy between us. There. I said it. Intimacy! That little word, so loaded with ideas and expectations. It got me pondering why I’m so uncomfortable with the word intimacy, and also the relationship that I have with it, and myself. I’d only really ever associated the word ‘intimacy’ with its euphemistic references to sex, and/or sexual relationships, and I hadn’t ever considered before whether I could be intimate with a friend, regardless of whether they were the same gender as me.
It felt strange to even think that I might even consider myself as intimate with someone who wasn’t my partner and for whom I had no sexual feelings, without it feeling at best, totally weird, or at the very least, a little bit ‘mushy’ and gross.
But isn’t intimacy – that close connection with another person – what we all deeply crave?
What felt uncomfortable was the idea of opening myself up, being all of me, without hiding or holding back. Allowing myself to be truly seen for who I am, not who I think I should be, or think that the other person wants me to be.
In spite of my uncertainty, allowing myself just to be me without holding back or measuring, was so easy, and so much less hard work than trying to be a certain way for other people. When I stopped measuring, calibrating, holding back for fear of upsetting the other person or fearing being judged by them, the conversation just flowed. The way we expressed to each other was with grace and understanding – like a sort of dance, just sharing whatever was there to be felt and said. It was a totally different way of relating to someone and quite different from the usual way I relate to people: from my head, saying what I think needs to be said for us to get things done but never rock the boat.
It felt so natural and easy to share all of me with her, without holding back, and without fear of being judged or criticised. I had a sort of ‘wow’ feeling, where I felt, “wow – imagine if I could be this way with everyone!” And then, “why aren’t I being this way with everyone, when it’s so straightforward and fun? Why am I constantly calculating, reading, assessing and measuring…afraid to be who I really am in case someone reacts?”
It’s kind of exhausting, like leading a double life, having different versions of myself for different people and different situations.
In allowing myself to just be all of me with this friend, I got to feel how much I hold myself back and hide behind a mask of who I think I need to be to ‘fit in’ and be accepted. And, how much I’ve been waiting for other people to validate who I am, or who I thought I should be.
If we choose to be less than who we are, or to be the version of ourselves we think we should be, if we’re waiting for permission – for someone else to tell us it’s okay to be ourselves – then it’s like we’re wasting ourselves and our lives. Some may react when we choose to be all of ourselves, and others not. But what’s worse than others’ reactions is that feeling of suffocating ourselves by trying to fit some uncomfortable mould that we’ve poured ourselves into.
To open ourselves up to another, to fully share ourselves with them and the world, feels a little terrifying. What if they reject us or hurt us? What if the world has a meltdown at us finally being ourselves?
But it’s also our only true way of being in the world and in relationships, and really what the other person wants us to be, too: our true selves, honest and real, warts and all. No hiding.
Because how can we take our relationships to true intimacy, the level that we all deserve, if we’re not truly being ourselves and only brave enough to share portions of us at a time?
And what if truly being ourselves allows others to be all of themselves, too?
by Bryony, London, UK
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702 thoughts on “Women, Intimacy and Friendship”
Bryony, thank you so much for your sharing, which many of us can relate to I am sure – having had this experience of openness and intimacy with one person is like having a new marker for how all relationships can be from here forwards. Thus an opportunity to grow all relationships is offered.
Not being who we are IS leading a double life and IS exhausting. And we have often been conditioned for this to behave in a way that is appropriate, to play a role or to please another….not that it is about being rude or inappropriate to others, but it is about dropping the pretenses and not playing the games but rather allowing ourselves to express from the depth of our hearts and not being scared to be rejected for the beauty that we can bring forth. Easy to say though not always easy to live.
Bryony, what a gorgeous article talking about intimacy and how this is a natural way for us to be with everyone. In our society we have twisted the word intimacy to mean so many things it is not, so this is great to clarify it and give it back its original meaning of letting the depth of our divine origin being seen and expressed through us.
“Because how can we take our relationships to true intimacy, the level that we all deserve, if we’re not truly being ourselves and only brave enough to share portions of us at a time?” I have come to realise that if we’re only ‘sharing portions of us a time” then the portions that we’re sharing are not true because we exist as part of a whole, segment that whole and it’s no longer a true representation of itself, it’s become something very different.
It’s strange that we assume that others wouldn’t want us to be ourselves, we they in fact may. And even if they react or it’s uncomfortable, at least we can breathe freely and be ourselves, instead of being under the awful constriction of holding ourselves back or fitting a mould.
Not everyone is going to be our friend when we are truly ourselves. I know I haven’t wanted to be friends with someone who is truly themselves, thats because it asks me to be more of who I truly am which always in hindsight is grander and more amazing than the false ‘me’ I’ve adopted or claimed is ‘me’ in the knowing that it’s been a lie the whole time.
‘Because how can we take our relationships to true intimacy, the level that we all deserve, if we’re not truly being ourselves and only brave enough to share portions of us at a time?’ great question Bryony and I would say that if we are only sharing a portion of us at a time then even that portion can’t be true. The only way to share our true selves is to share all that we are at the same time.
When we allow ourselves to bare all that we are we offer and inspire another to do the same.
As with any kind of relationship, its super important to make it about energy, when we see energy first we make it about evolution and not getting stagnant.
Lovely that you felt you could be completely you and intimate and open with another. This is how it should be with everyone all of the time.
Thank you, Bryony for sharing this gorgeous experience. I love it too when we are open to fully connect and be intimacy with people we meet or spend time with. It is the yummiest feeling when we can feel we have known each other for lifetimes even if it has only been days. This happens quite often and I deeply cherish these intimate moments where time is not relevant.
Time and age becomes less and less relevant, the more we open up and fully share ourselves with others. Sharing a deeper level of connection can be instantaneous and happen with anyone, at any time, whether we’ve known someone for a lifetime or a few seconds.
When we are being true to ourselves and bring it all to another we offer everything that is needed in that moment and whether it is welcomed and accepted or dismissed and resisted it is perfectly constellated to support everyone – the growth of another and the confirmation within ourselves.
“But isn’t intimacy – that close connection with another person – what we all deeply crave?” – yes because when it’s not there it’s cold, divisive and uninviting, the exact opposite of how we were born and our very nature.
It is so tiring keeping ourselves guarded from another, no wonder most of society is exhausted – we don’t let each other in, we play the nice and good game and all the time miss out on that gold you express hear Bryony when two people do connect on an all knowing level.
Yes, I absolutely agree Sam. This is the kind of connection I love and when it comes my way, I deeply appreciate it and I know we can have this level of connection at any time. It just depends if we are open to it or not, shutting each other out is never really any fun, so why would we choose it?
We shut each other out when we react to something that another is reflecting or presenting that makes us feel hurt or uncomfortable in some way: it might challenge a picture we’re holding about how life is or another should be.
And when we’re game playing, which most of us are doing most of the time then Heaven can’t be expressed through us, Heaven can only be expressed through us when we’re in sync with it’s movements and pretending to be anything other than who we are is not a movement that Heaven recognises as part of itself.
“But isn’t intimacy – that close connection with another person – what we all deeply crave?” – in a word Bryony, yes it is. Intimacy with another person opens us up to trust and from there to deepening that trust we have with them. This is how relationships blossom.
Opening up to living all of who we are can cause a reaction in ourselves when we realise just how amazing we are or a response that calls us to deepen our understanding of ourselves and to live with an ever deepening awareness of our responsibility to be true to who we are.
Yes Mary, the power and authority within is to be welcomed and lived and not to withhold and hence react to. Holding back the qualities of who we are does not support another regardless the excuses and justifications we can come up with!
Love this Bryony, you touch on many points here that are gorgeous “To open ourselves up to another, to fully share ourselves with them and the world, feels a little terrifying” it sure can and sometimes we are masters of avoiding it but when we do go there it is so so worth it.
Well said Sam – which confirms the fact that we know how to be intimate in relationships but that we can be masters of avoiding it…. now this is an interesting thing to ponder on…what do we get from this?
Intimacy is truly great to feel and when we offer our love to another with a willingness to let go of the protection even more is on offer.
“It felt so natural and easy to share all of me with her, without holding back, and without fear of being judged or criticised. I had a sort of ‘wow’ feeling, where I felt, “wow – imagine if I could be this way with everyone!” This lovely sisterhood in action no needs, expectations, or holding back just two women enjoying being with each other and allowing each moment to unfold.