When you hear the word intimacy, what comes to mind? Most people equate intimacy to sex or some physical act between two lovers. However, intimacy has very little to do with sex. Even though the act of sex is an intimate act by definition.  In order to build strong foundations in our relationships we must first understand what intimacy is and how it can improve our romantic and platonic relationships. The dictionary definition of the word intimacy is “close familiarity or friendship.” Allow to share my definition: Intimacy “being who you are under all circumstances with no fear of judgement or rejection.” How can intimacy strengthen our relationships? Let me explain. When you ask most people about their romantic relationship goals you often hear them say that they want to marry or be in a long term relationship with their “Best Friend”. Sounds good, but what does that really mean? The process in which you built your friendship with your “bestie” is a great example of intimacy being played out to create a long lasting relationship between two people. You both started off with no intentions, so there was no need for facades. You both were just yourselves and each person was cool and excepting of that. Being totally ourselves, warts and all, gives the others permission to do the same. This leads to the creation of a natural bond which blossoms into true friendship that allows each individual full self-expression, something that we as humans crave.  Once we block out society messages of who we should be as it pertains to our relationships we are free to just be. This is the foundation on which true love is built on. This is why we can have one best friends for years while we run thru several romantic partners over that same period. Forget about what you think is proper etiquette when it comes to dating. This only causes us to complicate what is meant to be natural, easy, and enjoyable.  As black men and woman we are constantly trying to protect ourselves for hurt, disrespect, and vulnerability of any sort. Wanting to protect yourself and your feelings are as natural as breathing. However, we must risk temporary discomfort and the occasional broken heart to truly know ourselves and to be comfortable enough to share who we are with the world. I am not saying this is easy. However, it is necessary if we are honest when we say “I want somebody to love me for me”. 

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