Being enamored with intimacy, I give it a lot of thought. More philosophically than applicably, but in cases such as this, surely either one can beget the other. During my last post on the subject I touched on, "authenticity" being paramount as the cornerstone of the intimacy pyramid, but only intimated that it should recur at each level as a sort of anchor. Further analysis demands implicit interpretation.
Authenticity means being genuine - free from pretense. A tall order given the multi-functional shroud of self-identity each of us wears which only shows others what we want them to see, or perhaps more importantly keeps the constructs surrounding our own psyche safely in place. While it might be difficult at best to be genuine with others while hiding truths from ourselves, we'll forgo the psychoanalysis and focus solely on why it is important to be authentic during each level of the Intimacy Pyramid, keeping in mind that if we cannot be genuine and open at the lowest levels, we will never even reach the higher levels. All pyramids of ascending aspirations work on this principle. And that this ascension is in essence a self-strengthening process thus defining the rules which govern the physics behind our structure. That said, we'll start at the beginning - the lowest level of our triangular edifice.
LIKES, INTERESTS & SEX
There are many reasons to not immediately enumerate and disclose the sometimes very stark diversities of our every predilection; context for one, and an ever-evolving worldview for another. Nor is there a reason to feign complete agreeability with another's. Rather, an incorporated spirit of mutuality and open-mindedness can lay a solid groundwork. We don't necessarily have to be personally vested in our partner's interests as long as we are personally vested in our partner. When both parties are authentic in their communication about each other and themselves, and understanding of each other's needs, there is no divisiveness.
GOALS & ASPIRATIONS
As we learn which goals of ours are healthy and which are unhealthy, we may find a far greater shift in our values than the ones we grew up with. As we learn how to focus our attention on those goals everything above and below this level of the pyramid can shift along with it, which is where being authentic with one another becomes paramount. That which intrinsically drives us is not as easy to change as external motivators - this one takes not only sincere honesty with one's partner, but also within ourselves. If we don't know what is alive in us, how can we convince another?
FEARS & CHALLENGES
Our first real foothold into trust-building occurs at this level, as does the opening strains of vulnerability - disclosing to someone other than ourselves that which frightens us, or challenges us. It exposes our weaknesses and is the first step of disrobing from the heavy shroud we use to protect us. A delicate stage, complete honesty - authenticity - is absolutely required, as this will be the support for the remaining levels. We must understand change and causality to conquer this level - and take risks. Failing at this does not mean failure in life, it simply means try, try again. Knowing oneself doesn't mean just admitting to ourself we have shortcomings. It means knowing what they are, then actively working to overcome them. Otherwise the point it moot.
Constant communication. About everything. Not what we're doing, but why we're doing it. What we think, what we feel. Dialog is the linchpin of this entire construct. Not only can we not go any further without it, it can undo everything beneath us. Likes, interests & sex were forged with communication (and in fact a sort of communication themselves), and goals, aspirations, fears & challenges were normalized by it - hardened and tempered. Of all of these, dialog is imperative. Many successful relationships do not require anything past this very point, as it is the culmination of everything which came before it, and perpetuates it indefinitely.
TRANSPARENCY, VULNERABILITY & RECIPROCIOTY
For those of us unfulfilled without end goals - ongoing growth, experience & contribution - the top tier of intimacy is, almost interchangeably, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity. Simply put, these cannot be reached without completely shedding ourselves of attachment and self-identity, and that requires more than complete honesty with another person, it demands first that we are authentic with ourselves. Intimacy and volatility cannot co-exist at these levels for the obvious reasons that it goes against the very nature of them. One cannot be truly transparent if the outcome is in question, nor can one be vulnerable to another if an emotional outburst were to occur - its exactly the opposite of relationship-building. Discovering that one can momentarily be flooded with emotion without drowning or without having to escape or erupt is a sign of maturational evolution.
A quietness of mind doesn't mean a quietness of spirit. On the contrary it is essential to focus. Mindfulness is not near as important on the first four sections of the pyramid as it is on the last three. Autonomously comprehending universal rules which are rational and logical means in and of oneself - know what you know and know what you don't know - and know why. Constant and unprovoked reaffirmation is the internal system of checks and balances which ensure a well-oiled machine. That which is tended to can never rust!