How Intimate Are You?

Posted by: Hailing Huang on September 28, 2012 4:09 pm

Intimacy and Personality Type

At Tuesday’s meeting, one of the counsellors brought up this question: if intimacy enhances a couple’s relationship, then how about the relationship with ourselves- the intra-intimacy? And will this type of intra-intimacy help us to build our inter-intimate (couple’s) relationship? This is an interesting question, which leads me to think about what is the definition of intimacy and what is the intra -intimacyship with ourselves?

One of the senior counsellors defined intimacy as: ‘within a relationship, a person’s openness and honesty comes from four perspectives: the mind, heart, body and soul with his/her spouse. The openness and honesty are the keys in couple’s relationship.’ I think this rule can also be applied to intra-intimacy as well. Are we being honest and open mind with our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors? Or do we even know how we feel, think or behave?

In her book “Revolution Come from Within”, Gloria Steinem disclosed that after she wrote the first two hundred pages of the book, she asked a friend who happened to be a family therapist to review it. Her friend commented: “Gloria, you have a self-esteem problem, you forgot to put yourself in.” Gloria Steinem had self-esteem issues!!! ??? Gloria Steinem, a pioneer advocate of the women’s rights movement during the 60’s and 70’s, and also had been named one of the ten most confident women in the United States by “ The Keri Report” . Isn’t it an ironic comment? It seems success does not lead to healthy self–esteem.

Could self–esteem issues come from not being honest and open-minded with ourselves? This could be considered as not being intimate with ourselves. Self-esteem is different from self- confidence. A confident person can be regarded as a competitive, capable of achieving, and being efficient, productive.  The emphasis is on doing, while self-esteem is about the relationship: how do we evaluate ourselves, what is our relationship with ourselves, how do we take care of our emotional needs?

According to the Enneagram personality type theory, type three – the Achievers are the type who potentially disconnect with their feelings; Type seven – the Explorers potentially disconnect with their thinking, and type one – the Reformers are disassociated with their instinct. All three types are mostly focusing on doing, instead of being. (One point that has to  be addressed  is that all types have their own hindrance and no type is better than the other type.)

Doing, competing, and fulfilling are emphasized by Western culture, so it is possible that these three personality types are well received by the society which glorifies the action. Action in itself is not what makes my forehead wrinkle. The drawback is: is it balanced?  If Gloria Steinman had self-esteem issues, it is possible that we have them too. Self–esteem is not self- confidence, confidence places emphasis on doing, and self-esteem refers to relationships, how do we see ourselves?  Are we being honest and open-minded with ourselves?  I would like to add one more element: self-esteem is also about how to be kind with ourselves.
Hailing Huang, MTS-PC,

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

2 comments on “How Intimate Are You?”

  1. Linda Thompson says:

    Hi Hailing – good article raising great questions on inter/intra-professional relationships. To answer your title question and from a depth psychology perspective, intimacy is the goal and highest of the 5 levels of conversation to achieve relationally and I am contantly working on this one. Not everyone wants to engage in this type of depth and so this degree of dialogue is a reciprocal event. Regard Linda

  2. carol says:

    thanks for putting forth & applying the concept of intra- intimacy– has utility for me
    & for taking cultural approach- – easy to understand – therefore makes easy to apply- appreciate article

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