Finding clarity and gaining understanding of one another is the cornerstone of my work with couples. Take for instance the question “What’s the difference between romance and intimacy?” For some couples, they may as well be speaking two different languages. They each have their own ideas about these concepts.
And looking these words up in the dictionary is of no help because of the many varied meanings it provides.
To ensure that two people have the greatest success in their relationships it’s essential that everyone be on the same page. This is how I define the two:
Romance is external, the showy part, like the tip of an iceberg.
Intimacy is internal, and it’s what lies beneath the surface that makes all the difference.
Romance is the act of giving and receiving affection. Think of Gary Chapman’s book ‘The 5 Love Languages’. Words of Affirmation. Quality Time. Receiving Gifts. Acts of Service. Physical Touch. These are all beautiful and when you ‘speak’ in each others love language, it lets the other know you’re tuned in and thinking of them. The intention of romance begins internally with our thoughts and feels. Romance itself is the external expression of those thoughts and feelings.
So what’s the difference between romance and intimacy?
Intimacy deepens through vulnerability. It begins with curiosity and through that, knowing your own internal landscape. What are your deepest desires and greatest fears? What makes you tick? What ticks you off and more importantly why? Then openly sharing your internal landscape and openly receiving, without judgement, your partner’s description of their landscape, however foreign it may seem to you.
Romance can be the beginning point of falling in love and is the heart fluttering, butterflies in your tummy, fun stuff that can happen throughout the life of a relationship.
Intimacy is the divine desire to see beyond what we present to the outside world. It’s peeling back the layers and allowing your partner to see it all, including the parts you’re not so proud of. It’s about vulnerability and it’s the scary stuff but it’s where deep love and profound love resides.
There is a difference between romance and intimacy. Successful relationships cultivate and nurture both over time.
Live a happy, sexy life!
Dr. Gayle Friend
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