Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Part two of the intimacy series.

"I read your article on types of intimacy and that's all well and good, but what I need to know you didn't cover. I know what I'm looking for but how do I actually find guys who like the same things?"

The short answer is get busy in the activities you enjoy. Guys with similar interests will naturally attract each other. Looking for a specific type of intimacy in the wrong place will leave you disappointed, bitter and jaded. Be honest with yourself.

How often are you going to bars or spending time online when these aren’t the best places to get your intimacy needs met? Are you willing to do the work you need to do to get your needs met? The following suggestions are just a starting place and by no means a complete list. By the way, you also need to put yourself out there by introducing yourself and talking to people versus simply showing up!

Emotional intimacy is the sharing of significant experiences and feelings.

* Find a support group. Pick a topic that is important in your life such as AA or other another 12-step group. For some people, a coming out group may be helpful. A wide range of topics exist that may fit your individual concerns.
* Examine your life events through therapy that hinders your ability to be in a relationship. These issues might be grief, abuse, and/or fear.
* Read Self Help Book. Believe it or not, the general series “_______ for Dummies” does a pretty good job introducing the reader to the basics on any give topic. I use the “Anxiety for Dummies” a lot in my practice.
* Appropriately share you inner thoughts, feelings, desires and needs with other people in your life.

Sexual intimacy is more than just the physical act of sex. It's also talking about the deepest and darkest sexual secrets.

* Attend a workshop on sexuality (for example Body Electric)
* Share your fantasies with your partner.
* Strategize with your partner about how to make a part or all of a fantasy come true (within the rules of your relationship).
* Read a book on sexuality (New Joy of Gay Sex) and share with your partner what you liked and disliked.

Intellectual intimacy is the closeness resulting from sharing ideas.

* Take a class. Check out community colleges, local art groups and area newspapers for classes that may interest you.
* Teach a course.
* Join a book club.
* Join a listserv on a topic of your choice.

Aesthetic intimacy relates to experiences of beauty.

* Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, so what do you find beautiful? After you've figured it out, seek it out.
* If you like art, some natural ideas are to visit a museum, art space, play or movie.
* Love nature? Check out local hiking or outdoor groups to join.
* Missed your shot at American Idol? How about joining a local gay men's chorus?
* Traditional art not your thing? Walk through your city and photograph graffiti you find interesting.

Creative intimacy is the intimacy of shared discovery.

* Bring a friend with you to any activity on this list.
* Join an art class.
* Read a book on “possibility”, such as the “Power of Now” by Eckhart Toll.

Recreational intimacy refers to the experience of play.

* Go to the gym, walk or physical activity.
* Find a club/group to join. (For example, most cities have hobby groups such as bowling or volleyball.) Do what you enjoy regardless of what others think. You might be surprise how many share your interests.

Work intimacy occurs in the sharing of tasks.

* Volunteer for work events/tasks. Join a committee at work.
* Talk with your co-workers about what is going on. Ask them what they did last night or over the weekend. Start sharing the basics with them as well.
* Volunteer with organizations or events that are close to your heart. This could be community activities like a Pride Festival or a political organization.

Crisis intimacy occurs as a result of major and minor tragedies.

* Volunteer for whatever jobs need to be done. This could include rescue, food drives and clean-up.
* Learn from the crisis to develop future plans.

Commitment intimacy is the experience of hope and possibility in response to addressing an issue, cause or event bigger than one person.

* Identify a cause/value that means something to you. Once you do that volunteer your time, talent or treasure to it.

Spiritual intimacy develops through sharing the values, meaning for life, and the core of our being.

* Join a church. Many traditional churches have gay-affirming components. There are also many gay churches to join, such as Metropolitan Community Church.
* Join a 12-step group. This could be AA but it might also be a 12-step group for partners of AA, Sexaholics, debtors, eating, and even “Emotions Anonymous.”
* Read/join an online group that discusses life values

Communication intimacy is the process of full disclosure with another person.

* Simply say what you mean, and mean what you say. Too often an individual will say what they think the other person wants to hear.
* Learn how to be present and listen to other people by attending a listening training program.

Conflict intimacy is the process of connecting, and facing and struggling with differences with others.

* Recognize that healthy fighting is a normal part of a relationship
* Learn how to fight in healthy ways by reading a book on conflict management/resolution such as “The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution.”
* Attend an anger management course.
* Attend a problem-solving course or reading material online.
* Attend an assertiveness training program.

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