Today we will start with the importance of discussing intimacy with young people.
Talk to your child about what true intimacy looks like.
It would seem that many young people are experiencing sex without the co-existence of intimacy. In the wake of a pornographic culture we are seeing more and more young people who have a great knowledge of the act of sex without the understanding of the pleasure, joy and fulfillment that intimacy within sex can bring. One of the big fears that teenagers share with us in our seminars is the fear they have around the act of sex. The average young person in Australia will be exposed to pornography by the age of 11. This exposure has seen many young people believing that sex is purely a performance. The greatest fear that they are facing in the area of sex, dating and relationships is that they won’t be good in the bedroom. Young people, all too often are missing a key part of the beauty and magnificence of sex – intimacy.
Kerry Conin the associate director of the Lonergan Institute in Boston says about her presentations to college age students;
I don’t talk all that much about sex, because I find that what really concerns young adults – what really scares them, what fascinates them – are not really questions about sex, but rather questions of intimacy.” Help your teen see that intimacy is a key part of a healthy meaningful relationship.
Jack and Judith Balswickin their book ‘The Family‘ define intimacy as “to know and be known”
It is important to discuss with young people how intimacy includes sharing our thoughts, hopes, dreams and feelings with the other person. Many young people see sex as true intimacy, however much of youth culture encourages sex without true connection.
Talking through what intimacy looks like can be helpful for young people. Two relationships that involve intimacy that most young people are familiar with are listed below;
Intimacy between parent and child
A healthy relationship between parent and child holds intimacy partly because of the nurturing aspect. The nurturer nurtures without return. As the family evolves intimacy develops in many ways. “the expression of emotions- anger, hurt, love, joy, sadness or affection is essentially how family members become more intimately acquainted” Family members can confidently express themselves without fear, they become vulnerable to the other, and the other, in their response, in turn becomes vulnerable to them.
Intimacy found in friendship
True friendships are also a great picture of intimacy. While the very act of forming a friendship requires a certain level of vulnerability, the continuation of friendship requires, for its success, intimacy. It’s the kind of intimacy that says ‘I chose you amongst others to see me, and I chose you amongst others to be seen by me’
We always encourage young people to sow deeply into the friendships in their lives. Great relationship lessons are learnt when we chose to be intimate within the context of friendship.
Helping young people think through this aspect of romantic/ sexual relationships is a crucial element to them having the kind of relationships that they desire now or in the future.
Questions to Discuss
- Does sex always require intimacy? Can sex be void of intimacy?
- What are some of the consequences of sex without intimacy? Are there benefits?
- Do you think being emotionally intimate is important in a healthy relationship?
- How long does it take to develop true intimacy in a relationship?