It is also true that there is equally broad confusion about the nature of what we all seek.
Sexual drive, romance and attachment often feel like love. We talk about them and often treat them as being synonymous with love. But in spite of our collective confusion, we can gain considerable clarity by recognizing them simply as biological drives. They are essential aspects of our lives as humans. Each represents a fundamental force which guides our behaviors and promotes the propagation of our species. ...but they are not love.
Although they are all closely associated with love, the confusion of these drives and the feelings that come with them with "love" is a problem as old as humanity.
Intimacy also feels close to love... And, too often, we mistake intimacy as a path to love. Perhaps greater intimacy will yield real love!?
True intimacy is a momentary encounter with the deeper connection we seek. It has an ineffable quality. We can talk about it, but ultimately, true intimacy is a form of connection that surpasses the experience. Physical touch. Exactly the right words. A uniquely special gift. A beautiful moment in time. A particularly meaningful act of service. The moments in which intimacy is encountered are the ephemeral form of the connection that is fundamental to love… in those moments we experience that connection. But, although this connection may feel like love, it is not love itself. The connection offered by intimacy is only temporary — something instantaneous, existing only in the moment — but when it’s right, in those moments, it is just as powerful as love.
There are asymmetric forms of intimacy: A photo which captures the true spirit of the subject may enable a connection with the viewer across time and space.
But this asymmetry is perilously close to the many forms of pseudo-intimacy and false intimacy that pervade our experience. In the eye of the beholder, these forms of intimacy often feel real and are as powerful as true intimacy. They drive the pursuit of the imagined intimacy.
True intimacy is symmetric, lost in the moment, deeply connected... a dance, without thought or calculation. It may be as brief as a glance or smile, or for those lucky few, may stretch over a lifetime. Intimacy is real. It reminds us of a connection that we crave so desperately. But, by its very nature it is ephemeral.
Ultimately, what we are seeking through intimacy is love -- the ultimate connection. That feeling.
In spite of our collective experience and confusion, love is not about feelings. Real love is not an emotion. Real love is not a feeling.
To be "in love" certainly describes "a feeling"... "You'll just know it when you feel it" has been the wisdom of ages. But it is more helpful to understand being "in love" as the very real experience of opening your heart to another. Feelings derive from loving and being loved. But they are the symptom, the effect, not a cause.
With some, the process of opening our hearts is so easy and so rapid that we confuse the result with the choice. "Love at first sight" is the archetype for this phenomenon; the choice is made instantaneously, and the feelings then derive from the experiences that unfold after that choice.
Love, is a choice, followed by action. Words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, or quality time. Each may be offered. Your love itself is a gift to another.
Often, when we offer our love to another, we experience the phenomenon of opening our heart. Fear can inhibit this process. Fearlessness or affirmation can promote the process. As we open our heart, we may experience this as being "in love"...
Although love is a choice, your choice to love another conveys absolutely no rights to you, whatsoever. The intended is under no obligation to accept or return the love you offer.
Further, we have no inherent right, even, to express our love to another. The only thing inherent in your choice to offer your love to another are the obligations you then take on. A sincere offer of love brings only obligation; specifically, the obligation to be respectful, patient, kind and compassionate to the other.
The hope for a connection does not convey any right to that connection. Rather, the nature of any connection is a mutual understanding -- whether consciously understood, or implicit.
Intimacy, then, suggests the opportunity to explore that connection.
This path, once opened by both parties, becomes real. But it affords no guarantees. Only the opportunity for the couple to step into the unknown. To explore, together, the nature of their connection and the implications that connection has for their future... together... or apart.
Intimacy is a meaningful and valuable way to explore the path together. But even as the couple explores the path together, there are no guarantees. There is only the moment. What lies beyond must always remain a mystery.
This, is the implication of intimacy...