Robert Augustus Masters

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What Is Intimacy? Some Exploratory Thoughts

  • August 3, 2015
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Two swans


Intimacy is the heartland of relationship and relatedness. Call it conscious relational closeness, love and awareness in clear conjunction.


Communion, compassion, and wakefulness are its cornerstones.


Though intimacy is the deepest and most awakened form of connection, it is more than connection, since it also includes a slight separation, just enough apartness to make possible a clarity of focus. This distance provides us with enough perspective to resonate with the other without getting lost or overly absorbed in them.


This is not distance in the usual sense; there is no isolation or dissociation or emotional removal in it. It is a slice of spaciousness with sufficient solidity to hold our focus. It makes possible an embodied witnessing.


In intimacy, connection and separation are not opposites, but rather dance partners, creating through their interactions a felt closeness and mutual flow of love and power.


We cannot connect unless we are separate; we cannot separate unless we are connected. This is a single dynamic in intimacy, in which differentiation and communion work as one.


Cultivating intimacy with another asks the same of us as does cultivating intimacy with a particular state or aspect of ourselves.


The more intimate we are with our conditioning — our patterned ways of being, our habits large and small, our reactivity and automaticities — the greater are the odds that we won’t let it run our relationship with another.


Our wounds won’t obstruct our being truly close to another only if we relate not from them, but to them, defusing their programming.


Deepening our intimacy with another asks that we deepen our intimacy with all that we are. This requires our wholehearted participation, along with the courage to face whatever we’ve been keeping in our shadowlands.


If we avoid developing intimacy with an element of ourselves — our fear, for example — we’ll not be able to fully be with another, since we are trying to keep that element (which exists both in ourselves and the other) out of sight, thereby depriving ourselves and the other of the energy that’s bound up in it, the energy that could help fuel our mutual move into deeper levels of relationship.


Intimacy is the radical non-avoidance of relationship.


As such, it is anchored in the nonconceptual recognition that everything — everything! — exists through relationship.


When we’re intimate with another, we give deeply, but we give without giving ourselves away.


Intimacy both requires compassion and deepens it.


Intimacy is a we-space that strengthens individuality.


Intimacy is not so much a merging as it is an everfresh co-emerging, allowing us to show up in all our colors.


Intimacy both roots and wings us.