The 5 Levels of Intimacy

I first heard of the levels of intimacy on the Man Talks Podcast with Connor Beaton and Bryan Reeves. I had to pull over because I was ugly crying so hard as it was the first time that I realized I had a tendency to race to the second through fifth level of intimacy as I dated in Denver!

I listened to the two renowned men’s leaders go deep into the intimacy and I was taken back to all the failed relationships up until that point. At that time, I began to sense that there was more to life that repeating the same unfulfilling relationships over and over again. I wanted something deeper and more meaningful so I started the BBR podcast as a search for my own definition of what love can become with renewed faith in myself.

Bryan Reeves, former USAF captain, said that he made a lot of life choices without involving his partner and that eventually led to a break up. During the interview, Connor and Bryan dove deep into intimacy(derived from the latin word intimus, which literally means “inmost”) and how to thrive while going through the three stages of a relationship. Their point was that we experience the most growth and development once we enter a committed relationship.

As I said before, I had a tendency to race to the second stage of a relationship by forcing myself into the “I + YOU” stage. That may have a lot more to do with my Enneagram type 8, “The Challenger” personality type who loves to go “all-in” from the get-go… with intensity I might add! I’d meet someone new and believe that we were meant to be together forever. Thanks to Hollywood for that idealistic version of what love is through movies and cartoons I watched growing up! I look back on that day in the car in 2018 and I have immense gratitude for all of the people I’ve met since becoming single that did not work out like I had hoped!

What I didn’t realize is that racing through that initial time in a relationship can take away all of the fun and scare some people away! Whether you met them online or in real life, the first two levels of intimacy are meant to be enjoyed and not rushed. On today’s episode of the podcast, Dave discusses how being aware of cuffing season, the three stages of a relationship, and the five levels of intimacy can set you up for finding lasting love BEFORE the championship game Feb. 14th!

Do you feel stuck in this place with your partner? Wilson described level 3 of intimacy feeling like this, “The sex makes us feel close, but in reality we don’t know each other very well. We’re experiencing a false sense of intimacy. We’ll use sex to express our love, communicate and resolve conflict. And now it’s at this level of emotional intimacy that we’ll most likely stay.”

In level four of intimacy, we become more vulnerable with our partner and it can be scary because we can’t backpedal on our feelings. They often don’t change over time but this leads to a dangerous possibility. “If we sense we may be rejected or criticized all we can do is try to convince others that we’re no longer impacted by our past. We’re no longer that person. We’re different now.” Wilson said in her article.

If that feels frightening to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you but have you ever gotten so deep with someone you love and reached level 5? Where you may experience this?

“I may feel closer because I’m sharing at a higher level, but in reality what we have is a false sense of intimacy.  In truth, intimacy is measured by the person with the lower level of vulnerability.”  Barbara Wilson Psy.D. wrote recently on FamilyLife Canada.

Later on in the article, Wilson said partners can feel this way in the highest level of intimacy, “If I can’t trust that you won’t reject me, I’ll never be able to share my deepest self with you. Unlike the other levels, there is no escape at this level.”

I can appreciate the history of cuffing season as a way to check myself and SLOW DOWN to pursue and date my potential partner. It’s a new mindset that I’m bringing with me on dates in the future so that I can remain present to what’s happening right now and not to rush things. I believe my future partner will be right in line with this new mindset and willingly, wholeheartedly, and compassionately join me on that journey to authenticity!

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