The Importance of Relational Intimacy

Society is centered on money and prestige. It’s that simple. Even if you were born a happy hippy kid raised on granola and kisses, by now you know that money=prestige=success in western culture. Our cultivated egos value expensive cars, big houses, designer clothes, and exotic destinations. From the moment we mature to the moment we die, the framework of our life is corrupted by the idea that material achievement is a necessary component of happiness.

We are the wealthiest society in the history of creation. This fact alone should ensure our happiness, and yet we are stressed and depressed because we place our values on things that will never love us back. We cultivate riches instead of enriching the relationships that heal us.

Western culture’s definition of mental health coincides with the dominant values of our culture: autonomy, independence and wealth. We are raised in this isolated society to stand alone, be rugged individuals and to be capitalist ground-breakers.  A healthier way of being productive would be to move, work and create within relationships. I am reading the book Silencing the Self, Women and Depression by Dana Crowley Jack and I agree with Dana that it is natural, not needy, to look for intimacy in relationships; to cleave to a lover, friends, family and community for support.

Women are far more injured by our western role models because a woman is raised to seek intimacy in relationship, to communicate her feelings, to trust in and nurture others. A man is raised to strike out on his own, to keep his feelings subdued, and to be strong, decisive and courageous. This male role model does not mesh well with the intimacy seeking communicative female model. The sad truth is that men need intimacy just as much as women do; they just aren’t raised to know it.

All of my manuscripts are based on the importance of relational intimacy. As a writer of woman’s fiction, I am constantly looking for new ways to show the beauty of deep sustaining love; between friends, lovers, brothers-in-arms, or sisters of a common cause. Nothing we do in life is more important than the people whose lives we touch with care. Intimacy unearths pain, supports healing and is more valuable than any amount of gold. You cannot take your riches with you to heaven, but you can take the love and compassion you’ve invested in others.

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of Relational Intimacy

  1. Moe Basille Doutre says:

    I find this entry quite interesting: dominate values of our culture: autonomy, independence and wealth. I think it should be dominant.

    As a man, I envy the relational intimacy that women enjoy. I have to struggle and fight to carve out a life that differentiates myself from other men. When I reach out and help someone in a time of need, I adopt a Patriarchal tone and tell them what they must do to make themselves better. I can’t stop that behavior and they expect it, or else they just use you, your love and your assets without regard.

    Also, intimacy changes relationships for a man. Telling someone a long held secret, or talking about feelings takes a big build up and then I do not want to talk about it again at a later date. I surely do not want it thrown back in my face.

    Men compete with each other to see which of us is better at a given task. The liars wind up in prison, the losers stay in their dead end jobs and their mothers basements, the winners wind up joining big corporations and decimating their working family members pension plans, and the good guys who do what they can to make their lives better and in turn improve the lives of those around them.

    Women are also extremely manipulative and maniacal. When they do not get their way, they create situations where they get what they want. I guess it just comes from being human; we need other people, but we don’t like needing other people.

    That said, I’m so happy to be in a loving, respectful relationship with my beautiful wifey. She gets me and I get her. We both bring each other up, and I believe that we are very fortunate. Sometimes, we choose not to relate intimate data and sometimes we can’t stop the flow of truth. I think we have a good relational intimacy.

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  2. Thanks for reminding us of the real values that we, as both individuals and as a society need to pursue. Without intimacy there is no caring, and without caring there is no lasting change.

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  3. Toni Kief says:

    I have been pondering similar issues the past few months. I agree wholeheartedly with your premise. As an older woman, my values seem to have disapated as I try to build relationships outside of romance. I have a tender, smart grandson sleeping in the other room, and I just want to be sure that he has a broad base of opportunity and hope for some form of happiness. I know that does not come from things, just helping him recognize that step.

    Our country is so far off track so many are steeped in the need for personal power and turn their backs on society. I don’t want a bigger television, or a motorhome. I want to feel helpful and necessary. I am so alarmed about education, and healthcare-the most important legs to improve all our lives. they have become monitarily exclusive in the wealthiest country on earth. We pay taxes to fund and help the top percents, protecting their crimes and greed. Many of us take on the call words they have used to blind us. Most of us are not too big to fail, but to small to save.

    You have put my thoughts and concerns into words, and I thank you.

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  4. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:24.
    I am surprised at times, for a country that prides itself for being based on true Christian concepts, that we veer so far from placing strong values on the relationships within our lives. We seemingly place our trust instead on the money we can gather to build bigger and bigger mansions to store them in. I remember once in high school, a friend told me that her father said his job was more important than his family, because he couldn’t support his family without his job. I still struggle with the logic behind this statement. The investments of our time and our love that we place in our relationships will never fail, even if we are not the ones to benefit from them. Our acts of kindness reach out and restore others in ways we will never fully know.

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    • You are completely right. As Americans we should know that our family, friends and shared history is more important than wealth. When I worked for Enron I told my people that they worked to live not lived to work. That was my policy. I gave them time off for family and gave them a flex schedule to create a work life balance. I had a productive team and happy employees. Your friend’s father is an example of the pervasive confusion which is destroying relationship across this country. We must put our people before our productivity, our children before our careers. No single thing we do is as important as the love we share. Thank you Fai for your comment.

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