My favorite question to ask new clients is always, “What brings you here today?”, and the responses sometimes go something like:
“I’ve been wanting to try this new sexual position I made up on the drive over here…”
“Well, I watched this porno where this guy got suspended from the ceiling by his nipples and it got me thinking…”
“You see, I have this fantasy that I am in the center of a harem of women, and they’re all wearing footie pajamas…”
“Are you familiar with the term Twitterbang?” (For those of us unfamiliar, it is when you have wild, no strings-attached sex with someone with whom you have exchanged less than 140 words.)
However, more often than not, the responses are somewhere along the lines of:
“I haven’t cuddled with anyone since my wife passed away five years ago.”
“I would like to lay in bed together and talk candidly about some things going on in my life.”
“Can we get to know each other over dinner?”
“I would just like you to stare into my eyes for a few minutes… it’s been a long time since someone did that.”
As a professional companion, I sell intimacy. Now, I’m willing to bet after that statement, your mind immediately went somewhere sexual. In American culture, the word “intimacy” almost has a taboo, naughty connotation to it, and often serves as a synonym for sex. “My partner and I were intimate last night.” “I cannot wait to be intimate with you.” “I was once intimate with three women at once during a vacation in Mexico.” You’re probably thinking of something salacious, right?
Though intimacy certainly includes the sexual, it encompasses so much more. Intimate needs also extend to the physical and emotional realms, and unfortunately, many of us are not having these needs adequately met. According to an article published in Psychology Today, three in four Americans feel they suffer from touch hunger. More Americans than ever live alone, nearly 42 percent of the adult population. One in four Americans feel they have no one to talk about important issues with. Loneliness among American adults has increased 16 percent in the last decade, reaching a whooping 72 percent.
Let’s back up for a second. What exactly is physical and emotional intimacy? (I don’t feel sexual intimacy really needs to be elaborated on. I think we’ve got that covered.) After all, how can I claim that as a culture, we are deprived of it without elaborating upon what it entails?
In its simplest form, physical intimacy is as basic a human need as sleeping or breathing. Touch is the first form of communication we develop- in utero, at only 16 weeks old, we develop our tactile abilities. We rely on touch for connection, reassurance, comfort, and compassion, even when that touch is platonic. Touch hunger can result in an increase of the stress hormone, cortisol, causing us to feel stressed, anxious, and depressed. However, even the slightest of human contact can release oxytocin, making you feel more trusting and connected. The increase of electrical impulses slows your heart and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel less stressed and more soothed. Incredibly, this complex surge of events in the brain and body are all initiated by a simple, supportive touch.
Emotional intimacy is being accepted for ourselves, loved for ourselves, sharing our happiness or for that matter, tough times. We crave that state of being that is all about closeness, trust, and comfort. It is allowing ourselves to be open, raw and vulnerable with another human being, no matter how nerve wracking it might be. It is feeling safe and accepted, unconditionally. Similar to lack of physical intimacy, lack of emotional intimacy can lead to feeling guarded, isolated, distant, lonely, ignored, unimportant, and unloved.
So, given how crucial it is, why are we so afraid to ask for intimacy? (Even as someone who is intimate with others for a living, it can be hard for me to ask for it in my personal life. Just ask my therapist.)
- We are afraid of being seen as inappropriate. We are afraid to platonically touch others for fear they will interpret it as a sexual advance, and we are often times warned against “over-sharing” our thoughts and emotions.
- We are afraid as being seen as weak, or nonauthoritative. Particularly true of men (sorry for calling you all out), we are afraid that others will not respect us, or their opinions of us will be lowered if we admit our intimate desires.
- We fear rejection. We fear we will ask for some physical affection, or to be allowed to reveal a personal thought, and we will be shut down. It is frightening to be seen in a vulnerable moment, and the fear of this vulnerability being dismissed can prevent one from asking.
- There is the fear of losing control of oneself, of abandoning oneself to their enjoyment. Physical and emotional intimacy frequently involve giving up control- letting go, and for a person who is afraid of losing control, this can be an anxiety inducing situation.
- We simply just do not know how, or we were conditioned from a young age to protect ourselves.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Now, I have to be honest for a moment. I have spent the past two days trying over and over to write this message in a witty and eloquent way. In a way that subtly suggested at my intention, but that also kept the tone light. But sometimes, the best way to convey a message is just to write it.
Please consider this your formal invitation to feel welcome at Sheri’s. We offer intimacy and companionship in all forms here, free of judgement and with complete understanding. You never need to feel nervous or shame in asking for what you need, whether that need is a sexual or platonic one. You are safe being vulnerable with us. Here, you are valued, appreciated, respected, and will be taken care of.
Whether you wish to spend an evening connecting on an emotionally intimate level with your companion, or you just want to be Twitterbanged, this is your place to feel accepted.