Updated: Jun 7, 2019
THE 8 SPHERES OF INTIMACY & HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE 💯
“In the modern world intimacy is disappearing. Even lovers are not intimate. People are afraid of deep intimacy. People's love affairs are just hit-and-run affairs. They don't go deep into each other's being because the fear is there—the other's pool of being will reflect you.” ― Osho, Intimacy: Trusting Oneself and the Other
This blog is for those hopeless romantics out there, those seeking to enhance experiences of intimacy and their sexual response, those looking to break free of emotional unavailability and those committed to themselves in becoming their own whole and complete soulmate.
This is also a STRETCH for me in terms of what I had deemed as "appropriate" to share. In the words of Ricki, one of my fave baristas at my local cafe (Witch Doctor), "YOLO!"
PRE-FRAME: MOVIE MOMENT ROMANCE
What if, movie moment romance actually existed?
What if, it didn't actually look like what we've been conditioned to believe is love?
And, what if, that dream person we've invented in our minds is actually... human? 😉
The movie above changed the way I viewed my romantic life, putting a spin on the typical rom-com storylines.
This story is about two people with cystic fibrosis (Stella and Will) that meet in a hospital and find love. In order to survive, they must avoid physically touching each other.
The part that melts my heart is hearing Will communicate to Stella, "You're beautiful, brave... I wish I could touch you."
[ Take note of this quote for later! ]
I was hit with the reality of perspective, rather than the illusion of what I thought love was. We overvalue chemistry, connection and "love at first sight", and we undervalue the beauty of creating something with someone from a place of love, trust, spaciousness and freedom.
We can all take something away from this story to apply into our lives by showing up to life fully - and not taking a single moment for granted. Nothing has meaning except the meaning we give it. Love will always find a way, everything else will find an excuse.
Claire Wineland, a patient with cystic fibrosis, had said to actress Hayley Lu (Stella),"There comes a time when you stop living for your treatments, and you start doing your treatments so you can live". These words became a key feature in the film and now honour her memory.
MEET LITTLE JO MARIE
Ever since I was young - I’ve been both a hopeless romantic and autonomous protector of my heart. I would imagine myself as a character in a movie that walks down the stairs in her pretty dress, and my dream guy would be there to meet me with that heart melting look that says it all. Or there would be a gradual mysterious narrative that builds overtime, until one day we reach for the same book at a cafe or bookstore and strike up a conversation fuelled with chemistry on all levels. Both scenarios would result in mutual love - without knowing what that really was.
Whilst this was a beautiful visual, it became one of my greatest lessons in love. I’ve experienced some incredibly romantic moments in my life, yet beyond that initial “movie moment”, those relationships had no real depth or substance. They lacked the foundation of what it takes to hold an incredible relationship, regardless of outcomes, where you can truly experience freedom, love and growth within that container and be in integrity with yourself.
I attracted the same kind of guy-avatar: Romantic, yet emotionally unavailable. My own mindset was focused on the bigger picture of my purpose and vision, so modern dating culture didn't vibe with me - a common thread for Life Path 9's. A mirror reflection. What I didn’t realise at the time was: The story will continue to repeat itself until we learn the lesson and rise above it. How do we do that? By facing those parts of ourselves that are continuing to perpetuate this story.
It’s easy to look externally and say that we have bad luck in love or all men or women are [ enter ineffective belief here ]. What if everything that we’ve been searching for externally through others, has been a lot more within our influence and reach than we thought? How are we truly showing up in our relationships, dating and intimate encounters? How raw and real are we really being? Where do we need to "level up" and take some radical responsibility and ownership?
I'm about to hit you with some truth bombs. In the words of Mark Manson, "We all have a limited number of fucks to give. Pay attention to where and who you give them to."
I've spent most of my life as a consciously single woman - so what would I know about dating!? Well, it's less about me being an expert, and simply me sharing my insights as someone who is a student of life in this area. I've learned a great deal about deepening the relationship with self and my own experience of intimacy, love, trust and freedom - which determines how we experience our external reality.
Let's dive into the divine goodness of intimacy.
THE 8 SPHERES OF INTIMACY
INTIMACY has been a not so guilty pleasure - that I have been researching and exploring for some time (this will make sense when we go over Intellectual Intimacy!)
One of my favourite models is the 8 Spheres of Intimacy by Dr Jenni Skyler, provides an intimacy map for us to discover intimacy within and with others. This will be the primary model of focus for this blog.
If you’re anything like I was you might be thinking, “Eight spheres of intimacy!?”
I had naively categorised intimacy into a standalone category - not truly understanding its multidimensional nature and how to harness this to its full potential for an optimal experience of intimacy.
THE 8 SPHERES OF INTIMACY:
1) Aesthetic Intimacy is when we share something beautiful with someone.
2) Affectionate Intimacy embodies how we share affection such as holding hands, kissing and cuddling.
3) Emotional Intimacy includes sharing feelings, fears, desires and being vulnerable with each other.
4) Intellectual Intimacy is a cerebral connection and meaningful conversation and sharing stimulating ideas.
5) Physical Intimacy signifies doing physical activities together like walking in beautiful scenic landscapes and experiencing nature together.
6) Social Intimacy is doing social activities together and spending time with other people as a couple.
7) Sexual Intimacy consists of exploring and sharing sexuality together. This might be sharing sexual fears, fantasies, desires, needs and being vulnerable.
8) Spiritual Intimacy entails sharing a spiritual connection with a higher power.
From the following list, identify your top 3 needs in intimate relationships. Is there a gap between what you perceive as important and what you are practicing?
ACTION STEP: Identify your top 3 needs in intimate relationships. Is there a gap between what you perceive as important and what you are engaging with currently?
“When two lovers are really open to each other, when they are not afraid of each other and not hiding anything from each other, that is intimacy. When they can say each and everything without any fear that the other will be offended or hurt. If the lover thinks the other will be offended, then the intimacy is not yet deep enough. Then it is a kind of arrangement, which can be broken by anything. But when two lovers start feeling that there is nothing to hide and everything can be said, and the trust has come to such a depth where even if you don’t say it the other is going to know, then they start becoming one.” ― Osho
THE IMPORTANCE OF "EMOTIONAL INTIMACY"
Emotional intimacy feeds sexual intimacy.
I repeat, emotional intimacy feeds sexual intimacy!
Let that land. If there is one thing you take from this entire written piece, write this down.
The most common block that prevents us from actualising any stages of the sexual response are when our needs for emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy are not being met.
Often, one person withholds emotional intimacy, and the other person subconsciously withholds full presence to sexual intimacy. Both parties co-create disconnection or more emotional unavailability in the dynamic.
This is not to say that exploring other spheres of intimacy don’t feel good! However, most would agree that emotional and sexual needs are a priority in an intimate relationship.
It’s also important to let go of any idealistic expectations that one person can meet all 8 spheres of intimacy for you. Whilst striving for this might be ideal if you value growth - it’s feedback to direct what you seek externally from others, internally towards yourself.
“Once you are incapable of loving yourself, you will never be able to love anybody. That is an absolute truth, there are no exceptions to it. You can love others only if you are able to love yourself.” ― Osho
We need to be committed to ourselves and choose to be the love of our lives. Intimate relationships are something we explore from that sense of wholeness and completeness within ourselves.
From this place, we can choose to create spaciousness to allow for mutual connection and real true intimacy. This comes from a surrendered state of consciousness - which is necessary for connection and experiencing higher level of connection and sexual response.
There is a fine line between this and emotional unavailability, so let's dive in and explore the polarity.
Whether you relate to being on the receiving end of this, or you yourself are emotionally unavailable, let’s break down what emotional unavailability looks like - as expanding our awareness in this area is beneficial regardless of where we sit on the continuum.
I recently read an article via The Good Men Project (2015) that noted, “I see this pattern (of emotional unavailability) so often and what lies under it is the fear of rejection, hurt, and not being good enough. When we move into a more authentic and available space, we feel more emotion and we also create deeper, more authentic connections, with ourselves and with others.”
How do we change Emotional Unavailability? Well, the only person who can change is the person who is unavailable. This comes back to conditioning and choice. That choice can be inspired by love, but there are times when it’s just too great a step for someone to take.
It is not your responsibility to change anyone. It is your responsibility to take personal ownership to create change for yourself though. Whether you’re leaning into being more emotionally available for others or being more self-assertive with healthy standards and boundaries, to move away from investing in emotionally unavailable people - remember YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE.
Remember our two primary spheres of Emotional Intimacy and Sexual Intimacy? Well, in romantic relationships, a person who is emotionally unavailable will shift into the sexual phase of the relationship quickly. Performance wise, they might do this really well - which can still be nice if this mutual. Yet, by neglecting Emotional Intimacy, it creates a great disconnect within the dynamic, and can lessen the full potential of the sexual experience.
Relationships have a natural development flow, so bypassing the discomfort and natural rhythm of intimacy is a creative way to avoid being vulnerable. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, require communication of deeper truths, insecurities and boundaries to develop intimacy. Avoiding these keeps people safe from those fears of rejection, hurt or not being good enough.
People will communicate their patterns of behaviour to you. Listen for direct closed statements that don’t indicate any desire for change. Here are two red flags you can spot a mile away.
Behavioural Pattern 1: Inconsistent Connections.
Here are a few key indications of inconsistent connections:
Disconnecting or disappearing.
Getting distracted from relationships when time was spent there in the beginning.
Withdrawing without being open to communicate something such as, “I am swamped and need to spend some time processing me,”or giving half reasons or elusive ones.
Behavioural Pattern 2: It’s all about me.
There is a significant difference between being a healthy autonomous powerhouse and taking care of your needs first (which is incredibly attractive) VS negating others in that process.
Often, emotionally unavailable people may seek intimate connection yet indirectly disconnect themselves from others. Sure, it’s great to know what you need, want, feel — however in relation to others, matching of your wants, feelings, and needs with others is healthy VS disconnecting in attempt to play out a fear-based rule to meet an internal need.
Here's the kicker - you can meet your needs without disconnecting.
According to The Good Men Project, if you swing all the way up the scale into emotional unavailability, you become self-absorbed with your needs, feelings, wants, and agenda in relation to another person. You are avoiding vulnerability and avoiding true connection.
How does this feel for the receiver? There is pain and confusion of not being able to get close to the one you love through the layers of evasiveness, excuses, and ineptness when it comes to talking about feelings or the relationship.
Emotional availability is going there with another person, risking the outcome, rather than staying in your head and coming to conclusions alone. It’s about getting comfortable with the mutual process that takes place between two open people, regardless of how it ends.
Emotionally available people CAN focus on themselves, meet their needs powerfully and still build interdependent mutually beneficial relationships without compromising parts of themselves or needs - coming from love and wholeness.
HOW CAN YOU USE THE 8 SPHERES OF INTIMACY IN THESE MOMENTS?
Firstly, self-assess in the context of this intimate encounter. Know what spheres are important to you - and cross check which ones are being met or which ones are not. The most empowering thing you can do for yourself in situations where someone is emotionally unavailable is to hold true to your worth, your values, your boundaries and be clear on your intentions in which you choose to explore a version of intimacy with this person.
Often, there is a misconception from those that are emotionally unavailable that the other persons intentions are to form a relationship - so they disconnect. This is a distortion of reality, and I promise you, if you know your worth and these 8 spheres intimacy, this pattern of behaviour becomes unattractive - and something you move AWAY FROM rather than MOVE TOWARDS.
Before I knew myself on this level, I used to seek answers from the other party and play into their story - thinking that their behaviour was a reflection of my worth. Or that I needed to teach them the depth of what I knew to help them experience freedom and love in the way I experience this.
Now, I can spot these patterns and red flags a mile away. I choose share love and appreciation for that person and still say no to sharing my energy with them in this way. People can only meet us as deeply as they have met themselves and vice versa.
Keep saying yes to you and living your life to the fullest. Be so full and overflowing that nothing detracts from that. Be the space for the life you seek. Remember, your romantic partner is not the whole cake - if you are truly whole and complete within yourself.
When you get to this beautiful place on non-attachment to relationships (do not confuse this with detachment) where you are committed to yourself, aligned, present and tapped into the fullness and joy of life - everything else is a bonus.
SEEK FEEDBACK MOVING FORWARD
Moving forward, I invite you to seek feedback from others on how they experience you in this area. Why? Because we know what we know. We know what we don't know. We don't know what we don't know. Feedback helps us grow and understand ourselves more deeply.
I am a massive advocate for practicing what I preach and being in integrity with my values. So, i'll share some personal feedback with you that I received from a male friend.
"My experience of knowing you, and building trust with you, is that you are deeply emotionally available. You just asked me a question from a space of courage and vulnerability = demonstrating you are emotionally available. I do think that the rules / blocks that exist for you around building intimacy and trust make it very difficult for a man to experience you fully (intimately). "
This feedback through the eyes of another helped guide me to share this article with you today. The truth is, I know myself so intimately and the core nature and ontology of intimacy and what makes me tick. Through my own experiences, I've come to realise, in order to shift into building intimacy and trusting another is a balance in the spheres of intimacy. Especially Intellectual, Sexual and Emotional Intimacy when it comes to relationships - and where there is emotional unavailability - there is no space for me to be in my optimal flourishing state as a conscious Queen or Lover. I share this because, often we take on others peoples projections as our own and forget to focus on our strengths and the truth of who we are when we get caught up in fear-based thinking.
As a Positive Psychology Practitioner, my job is to enhance strengths rather than focus on weaknesses. Now that you know the 8 spheres of intimacy, and the importance of Emotional Intimacy - you can choose to experience the full capacity of intimacy.
Why do you desire to step into an energetic vortex of confusion and disconnection when you can actually HAVE CONNECTION and EASE?
You can choose to experience FREEDOM and LOVE - and yes that is completely possible unless you believe otherwise.
You can choose to have incredible sexual intimacy and you can choose to have incredible emotional intimacy. Together, these make for an incredible intimate connection on a whole other level - and them some.
If there’s someone in your space that disrespects you by running patterns of emotional unavailability - call them out or leave. Do this from a place of love and gratitude for the gift of spaciousness and learning. People can only meet us as deeply as they’ve met themselves so they might not understand - and that’s okay too.
In the words of Preston Smiles, whoever this person is - they are just not that into you! Get excited because it means you can create space for:
1) The full flourishing version of yourself (well - YOU). Being in this energy would detract from you being in your full potential within that container of energy sharing.
2) The right person.
"Be discerning with who you share your energy with... Take your ball and go back to your sandpit and play alone until someone worthy of you shows up." - Preston Smiles.
HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT RELATIONSHIP:
YOU ARE WHO YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR
Your commitment to yourself is what makes you a full cup. Anything else is just a bonus from the overflow. Go and fill your cup with good music, activating experiences, amazing company and plenty of intimate dates with yourself!!!
I've got so much love Got so much patience I've learned from the pain I turned out amazing Say I've loved and I've lost But that's not what I see 'Cause look what I've found Ain't no need for searching
As for those romantic movie moments, I'm looking forward to experiencing these from a much more aligned, grounded, loving and whole complete circle space - playing with those 8 Spheres Of Intimacy for an optimal connected human experience.
Much Love from your consciously single QUEEN! 👸
JO KATHLEEN MARIE