- This topic has 10 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 9 years, 2 months ago by Matt.
March 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm #53211
This is a spin-off thread from another one, as I’m curious about this, but didn’t want to cause any disturbance in the other thread.
I was wondering, if platonic intimacy is possible and what might that look like in the real world?
I know that a lot of people do not like Osho, but I’ve found some of his writings very interesting. I liked his book Intimacy: Trusting Oneself and the Other. I’m paraphrasing, but his idea on intimacy was that you are open and vulnerable to another person, who’s also open and vulnerable to you. To expose your true selves to each other. It is my understanding that this would be the preferable type of connection between people.
We seem to be OK with it in the context of a non-platonic relationship and between family members (even if it doesn’t necessarily happen in those contexts). Also, a particular situation might allow us to reach that state temporarily (where one has to put full trust in another and another person opens up while reaching back). What about outside of those situations? Is it OK to connect with other people and try to maintain that connection? Or should that connection be reserved only to those you are related to or have sex with? Granted, that last one was me playing a devil’s advocate, but I am really curious about this, because I actually really crave it myself. I crave that intimacy and I can’t get that with my family and starting a long-term relationship with a man requires more practical considerations.
Is it reasonable to expect to have an intimate friendship relationship with another person (regardless of their gender or sexual orientation)? Would it be acceptable to others?March 21, 2014 at 4:39 am #53219AnonymousInactive
I can only tell you my story..
I have experienced this first-hand with some of my female friends who happened to be people i met when i was younger. Although we eventually drifted geographically, there was this bond and trust that stayed. They will have your back in a real crises. That connection somehow stays. You would always care for them and they can tell you anything. These are rare bonds no doubt and need to be given the validation they deserve. I have seen a number of people who stop giving their friends that much of time when they settle down or get a boyfriend.
I met my partner while i wasnt even looking for someone ironically. I found a good friend first who later became something more. All i am saying is, when you want a friend, you gotta show that you are being a friend too. Of course there needs to be that circumstance for that. I dunno, like go for volunteering, join a club and find like-minded people. Funnily, i did manage to make one really good friend through this route as well 😛 Anything’s possible but we have to use our common sense and not that cynical person who tells us we’re being odd. Sometimes you just click with some people and then, work to make that connection through simple ways.
As for what other’s find acceptable, well all i can say is “how many can you keep pleasing anyway?” People will always have something or the other to say (lol, me included) I think it is totally reasonable to be in an awesome friendship but you gotta be a more open and understanding person to make that happen.March 21, 2014 at 7:59 am #53227
I enjoy your question, and can understand the puzzle of connection with others. The short answer is yes, its possible to have deep, intimate connections with people you don’t have sex with. It starts with self compassion, or having enough warmth and space to let yourself be who you really are. This creates a stable, inner ground that makes being vulnerable with others less scary. Said differently, intimacy requires honesty, which requires trust. Other people might not have that trust, but if we have self compassion, we can bring ourselves to the connection if we wish to… and they can set down their veils and show up too if they feel like it.
As I read your questioning, the first thing that sprang up in my heart is “I wonder why TR is afraid of being open with others?” Sure, there is some social conditioning (only be open with your mother, doctor, or romantic partner) but many don’t buy into that one. Said differently, you might be surprised just how many people actually are showing up, vulnerable, real, and open. When someone isn’t, we just can’t take it personally… such as being open with someone that is still putting on heirs, trying to sell themselves, scared to be honest, or any number of other types and shapes of walls. That’s just from their karma, their attachments, their delusions or whatknot… it doesn’t really have much to do with us.
And then, what a relief! To have trusted friends and fellow travellers that know us? Hear us? Make space for us? How wonderful it feels to have such freedom!
Another way I look at it is like the depth and directness of a sangha connection. Spiritual friends help one another stay alert, awake, practicing. They call us on our shit, point out our unseen beauty, help us widen our view, see around corners and bring support and momentum to our growth. And we do the same for them! “You have a huge booger hanging out of your nose, want a tissue? And yes, if I ever have a booger hanging out, let me know. Namaste”. If we can accept that sometimes we have it hanging out, sometimes they do, and the whole imperfect mess of needs, desires, words, delusions and boundaries, then we don’t feel ashamed of our mistakes or awkwardness, or judge others for theirs. We do our best to shake hands with our whole heart, and sometimes someone shakes back with theirs. Otherwise, we feel good knowing that we were present, open, ready and accepting.
MattMarch 22, 2014 at 3:21 am #53318@Jasmine-3Participant
Thanks Jess and Matt for your insights 🙂
Hi “Rumi” (The Ruminant) – a big hello from your twin sister down under 😉
I think you know the answers to your questions but if you are asking me, yes, it is possible to develop such intimate relationships. However, the secret ingredient to having such relationships or any relationship is to be yourself. Most humans are known to be inconsistent and thats a normal phenomenon. When you are able to be just YOU in every interaction, similar people are automatically attracted to that quality. Everyone craves an authentic relationship and I think the underlying message of Osho follows the same principle (pls note, I am not a big fan of Osho but most of his basic teachings are similar to those of other spiritual mentors).
Following on from your entry in one of the other posts re: social media, I would like to share my thoughts here. Social media (plus any media for this matter) has the capacity to generate negativity in our lives. Mental peace and positivity comes down to the quality of people’s daily or recurrent thoughts. I will try to explain this by using a builder and his raw materials as an example. A builder can build a beautiful structure with raw materials, which everyone admires or gets great pleasure from or he can build an ugly structure, which creates an eye sore for most. Our mind is like the builder and our thoughts are like the raw materials.
Social media has the capacity to load us with multitude of poor quality thoughts, which our mind uses EFFEcTiVELy to create anxiety, unhappiness, lack of contentment, comparisons, mental chatter etc. This is the reason behind a famous quote: we become what we think about the most. Everything around us has an impact on our quality of thoughts from the food we eat to the air we breathe.
You will find that abstaining from negative news, dramas of other people or social media will aid in leading a more positive life. Feeding our mind with positive thoughts help us to become more content, happy, less anxious and more productive beings. I have tried this over the last few years and it has been amazing. Now, it takes a lot of effort to bring me down or change my frame of mind. And it all started with practicing of positive affirmations (by louise hay or susan jeffers) and becoming more “authentic me”. There is no one more special than “Me” or “You” so we need to look after the quality of our thoughts each second.
Hope this helps you with your quest. Sending loads of positivity your way,
JMarch 22, 2014 at 3:58 am #53319KCleeParticipant
Love the question and would like to share my recent experience with this.
I am described by my friends as a being a corageously strong woman, however recently I lost a very dear friend, suddenly, unexpectedly and with my grief I haven’t felt string or courageous, rather weak and vulnerable. During this time I have found my self confused by an attraction to another friend of mine, confused not because she is female (I have had relationships with both sexes) but confused because she is not a person I would have ever thought I would be attracted too (for many reasons)…Being the analyst I am I spent some time with myself breaking it down to better understand what was happening. I came to the conclusion that my attraction was more of an emotional thing and a longing to feel love and affection. I, like many have struggled with allowing myself to be vulnerable, and trusting people. My friend who I am attracted to makes me feel safe, she is strong and courageous and I want to feel those things from her, I am drawn to her because of those things. I don’t want a relationship with her, I don’t see that happening for us. I don’t want to have sex with her but I do want to share a deep connection and be affectionate and intimate with her.
Personally I feel that if two people have the ability to openly honestly communicate their feelings that platonic intimacy is possible. For me I have been very careful as I want to ensure there is mutual understanding, because I myself am clear on what it is for me. My friend agrees and reciprocates the attraction but we are yet to discuss it in more detail. In saying that we did recently spend a night together, cuddling naked (no sex) and it was beautiful and fulfilling.March 22, 2014 at 9:25 am #53327
Thank you ever so much, Matt, for that lovely post.
I actually didn’t think at all that my post would reveal any fear on my part, and the purpose of it was kind of genuine wonder about how other people see such connections. However, I’m quite OK with having to look in the mirror 🙂 There is a very good chance that this sort of thing is perfectly normal to others and it’s actually me who finds it confusing. Allow me to explain, if for no other reason then to have some clarity for myself as well.
My parents weren’t very affectionate nor very good with handling their emotions. I can’t remember ever having a genuine hug from either of them. Only some very awkward ones. I also grew up for some reason to be “tough”. Showing weakness wasn’t acceptable, and like many others, I confused vulnerability with weakness. I didn’t want intimacy in my relationships, because I was scared of it, because I thought it was for weak people and because I honestly didn’t really even know what it is. I make friends and attract people easily, but one can imagine what sort of relationships are built with that kind of mindset. I’ve had to pull back a bit as well, as all the human relationships in my life were completely wearing me out as they were based on an unhealthy mindset.
Now, I intellectually and even emotionally understand more about love and intimacy. I have felt spiritual unconditional love and “get it”. The problem is that I still haven’t been quite able to put all that into practice so that I would’ve experienced intimacy between two people. I think one problem is that years of unintentional self-abuse, my brain is so full of imprints of hurt and pain that when I try to open up to another person who’s physically present, I automatically shut down. I don’t trust most people to be able to handle my openness (partly also because of my culture) and if I’m already scared and face rejection, I’m afraid that the fear of intimacy just gets worse. I wish that I could find a mature individual, who would be patient and understanding with me, so that I could actually practice what it’s like to be open to another person. Perhaps then my brain would get used to it and understand that it’s not equal to death. I desperately crave to try that, but I haven’t really met people like that. I honestly don’t know if it’s yet again me just not seeing them or what is it. I am also slightly nervous that I might be unknowingly trying to have a connection with someone I would’ve supposed to have with my parents, and such connections aren’t usual between adults. So I really kind of am asking here “is this normal?” 🙂
I definitely agree that the more I trust myself, the more I can trust others. I think I really just need to practice more and be more meticulous about being mindful and remember my boundaries. I so much want to connect with another person and just have that feeling of joy, and I want it so much that I’m willing to work for it!March 22, 2014 at 9:28 am #53328
Thank you all for responding! I’m going to have to ruminate (eh eh) on this a bit after reading Matt’s response. I’m not dismissing any other responses at all. Just feeling a lot of things and thinking a lot as well at the moment, so I need to process that first.March 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm #53351
I can understand the feeling of awkwardness and not wanting to be “abnormal”. Consider that this whole “normal” idea is perhaps the problem, not your style. With mom and dad being a little cool while you were growing up, it makes sense that warmth would be both highly fascinating and confounding. What is a hug supposed to feel like? How does normal communication come to be? What is this whole intimacy thing? Perhaps, you can see around you, people seem to be doing alright, connecting, enjoying, but that feeling of outsiderness remains like a shadow on the heart.
So, when an inspiration pops into mind (“oh, I could say this”, “oh, talk to him, her”, “oh, a chance to show kindness!” etc) perhaps you shoot it down. It just doesn’t feel safe to do it, take that leap into the unknown. Too many factors.
And the truth is, yep, lots of factors. So what? It reminds me of part of a Dar Williams song. “And I thought that if we met, I would only start confessing,
And they’d know that I was scared, they would know that i was guessing.
But the wall came down, and there they stood before me,
with their bumbling and their mumbling and their calling out, just like me.”
There are plenty of people out there who hug with awkwardness at first too. However, its nice to share warmth with others. Physically, emotionally, mentally… just to make space and hold our friend for a moment, let them know they’re loved, seen, felt, known. But, everyone is different, coming from different parents, teachers, cultures, and heroes, so that “hug” space is different too. This gives us all different “accents”, such as using different words for the same idea, differences in expectations, and various fears, but we can relax into our heartfelt intention and simply let ourselves connect, try, jump in. For me, its following the blossoming of inspiration meeting my willingness to dance.
And, stumbling is inevitable. I do it all the time, and feel like a fool plenty of times. 🙂 Words or actions kind of blert out, or in an “ummmm, ok, aaaaaanyways” kind of way. So what? When we find our groove, our tune, and just play… its pretty fun, and full of light. For me, this makes stepping through the awkwardness and vulnerability a simple choice.
For instance, I do my best to give hugs on Tiny Buddha. Sometimes, people hug back. Hooray! Light shared. Sometimes people say “you self righteous bastard” or whatever. So what? I’m doing my best! The dissonance of those moments becomes information, refining, learning. Its a moment of pain, of confusion when I accidently step on toes, or give a hug to someome that punches back… but those melt quickly, are impermanent, and grow wisdom. So why fret?
Namaste, sister, may you find the courage to sing your beautiful song.
MattMarch 24, 2014 at 1:24 am #53429
Thank you all so much for your thoughts. I was reading this thread again and realized something about myself, which hinders my ability to connect with people: I don’t have enough humility in me when I attempt to connect with others. This actually explain some other things as well, so this is a really wonderful realization for me.
I have been blessed in the lottery of life and been given plenty of resources. I am also a testament to how useless those things are if you don’t have love in your heart. If you’re filled with fear and doubt, then all the resources only make it even easier to self-destruct in a more spectacular fashion. All the while thinking that you should do better, because you know that you have all the possibilities to do so. Anyway, the love part I understand now. It’s the humility part that I need to pay more attention to.
There’s a part of me that blocks the connection with others by whispering that “they couldn’t possibly understand you”. In all fairness, it happens a lot that I talk about something and others don’t understand at all. That shouldn’t be a problem, yet I believe my own hype and see myself as some sort of isolated island amongst other people. I may not know anyone else with similar range of interests, but I have the exact same emotional needs as everyone else. I should be able to connect on an emotional level with just about any living being.
I can feel tremendous amount of love towards someone else, but I can’t accept their love back (which I think is needed to create true intimacy), because I think that they can’t understand me. Like I’m from a different species. I’m not. Obviously. A bit of humility would allow me to see that.
What this lack of humility also does, which I hadn’t been aware of until now, is that it makes me feel as if my love and kindness isn’t really real. I have a need to help others, and so I do. I also don’t seemingly pass judgement. So I have other people telling me things like “you have such a good heart”, and I feel like an impostor. In a way I shouldn’t, because the actions are not an act. Yet clearly there is still a mismatch with some of my thoughts and what I appear to be. The thoughts of superiority are there, even if I wouldn’t want to admit it. Because I don’t want to admit it, it’s easier to pretend like they don’t exist. But they do, and they are hampering my relationships.
It’s that damn ego trap that is always going to be there 🙂 A person can be intelligent, kind, beautiful, rich…all kinds of things, and enjoy those blessings. But the moment it becomes part of the identity and a measurement stick, it all goes sour.March 24, 2014 at 4:16 am #53433@Jasmine-3Participant
What a priceless insight that you have shared in your last post.
You are aligned to your inner being now :). Just beautiful.
JMarch 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm #53455
I love the direction you’re taking with this. Consider that even with all that, cycling from judgment to pride to isolation to shame, being an imposter, and all… you are still 100% deserving of connection. For the rich and poor (both sides) there is extra challenge. Having a lot of social power (money, connections) make pride and “seeing others as below us” very slippery, difficult to settle. For those without much social power (empoverished, isolated) the feeling of shame and “seing others aa above us” is very slippery, difficult to settle.
And the strength of your heart shows when you saw humility as the lack, or part that needs some help. Authentic humility solves that very cycle. Consider spending some time seeing how we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. From the tech we use, science we have, the resources of our elders… all part of the conditions that surround us. So when we cling to the notion of “look at what I did” or see it in that way, we become attached to the results we see instead of remaining content, happy.