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The Signs Of A Truly Intimate Relationship

Love & Relationships

If you spend even 15 minutes a day online, you're likely to run across at least two dozen relationship articles. So, what makes this one any different? It's actually a particular word that's in the title. Did you peep how I didn't use words like "good", "healthy" or "long-lasting"? Yeah, what separates this piece from many of the others is the operative word—intimate.

When you think of intimacy, what immediately comes to your mind? Closeness? Sex? While those kinds of things can—and should—certainly come out of an intimate relationship, there are some core characteristics that need to be put into place—first.

Whether you've been seeing someone for a few weeks now and you're hoping it will turn into something more or you've been making this love thing work for a while now but you need a "gut check", just to make sure that you and yours are still on the right track, here are eight things that, based on the definitions of intimate, you need to have in your relationship in order for it to be truly and authentically intimate.

The Signs Of A Truly Intimate Relationship

1. Friendship

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To me, the foundation of every great relationship is friendship. At the same time, the reason why I think that not nearly enough people make this a priority is because either they don't value friendship as much as they should or they've never been in a relationship where friendship was the cornerstone of it. I have. I also know married couples who are the very best of friends and when I tell you that it makes loving someone—and staying with them—so much easier to do? Words fully cannot express.

It's really kind of sad that "friendship" isn't synonymous with "intimacy" for a lot of us because to be in a friendship is one of the very definitions of what it means to be intimate with someone. When you're with someone who loves, respects, supports and celebrates you; when you're with someone who makes you and your needs a priority and therefore, also makes themselves available to you, even when it's not always the most convenient to do so, and when you know you're with someone you can trust with your heart, your secrets, your resources and pretty much your life, in general? ((Exhale)) Does it really get any more intimate than that? I seriously doubt it.

2. Raw Honesty

Sooner than later, I'll be sharing an article about what it means to have a man in your life who is good for you rather than merely good to you. I got the concept from a male friend of mine who once told me something about a guy that I was crushin' on at the time. What he said was spot-on and the ultimate reality check; that doesn't mean that a sistah wanted to hear it, though. Anyway, after my friend ran down all of the reasons why he thought the guy wasn't as into me as I wanted to believe that he was, when I jumped about 65 percent on the defensive, my friend said, "If all you eat is cake, you're gonna get sick. Take this medicine, girl. Learn to embrace what's good for you even if it doesn't seem good to you at the time." Ouch.

Medicine can taste nasty, but its objective is to make you better. That's how I look at raw honesty and its purpose. The reason why I use the word "raw" instead of "brutal" is because I really like the Scripture in the Good Book that talks about speaking truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

When someone loves you and you love them, the truth doesn't have to be weaponized. You can be direct and forthcoming without breaking their spirit in the process.

That being said, truly intimate people don't want to see the ones they love make poor decisions or to continue doing things that are emotionally, financially, relationally, spiritually or personally counterproductive. If that requires lovingly calling them out on their ish sometimes, so be it. The connection is solid enough to where the person on the receiving end can receive it—also in love.

3. Warmth

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I personally think that one of the most underrated definitions of intimacy is warmth. Not to go all church on you today, but I must admit that when I think of the word "warm", the first thing that comes to my mind is this—"Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?" (Ecclesiastes 4:11—NKJV) Warmth is support. Warmth is kindness. Warmth is being generous and giving. Warmth is—and this is a good one—empathy.

To me, warmth is about having a hard day at work, coming home and immediately feeling safe because you know that if there is one place in the world that can serve as a place of refuge, it's within the presence of your partner. No matter how cold the world may be, when you're with them, there's comfort—and warmth.

4. Confidentiality

Whenever I hear about a celebrity getting divorced for what seems like the billionth time, one of the first things that crosses my mind is not if they had a prenup in place, but if they had some sort of NDA (nondisclosure agreement) signed. I don't know about you, but a part of what would motivate me to stay with my future spouse until death parts us is the fact that they know basically all of my business; I don't want to have five different husbands having access to such personal information.

Yep. Another clear indication of intimacy is to know and to be known—not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. It's about being able to share any and everything, knowing that it won't be used against you and that it won't get out in the streets, whether it's to a work associate, a close friend or even (eh hem) somebody's mama.

There are people I am no longer friends with who, when we were close, they shared some things with me that I would still never reveal. Why? Because it was confidential information. The status of the relationship hasn't changed that fact.

There can be no true intimacy without some level of confidentiality being involved. Don't @ me on this.

5. Affection

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"Affection" is such a sweet word. It speaks to being loving, devoted, sentimental and attached. When someone is being affectionate with someone else, they are being caring and endearing. They go out of their way to show kindness and concern. They are devoted in a way that is lasting and loyal.

That's why it kind of gets on my nerves when people try and equate sex—at least casual sex—with affection. Well, let me back up a bit. While once reading an article on whether men think that oral sex is more intimate than intercourse, a commenter by the name of Jeremy Glenesk replied by saying this: "This is really a subjective question. For me, personally, I would say yes. I find something very intimate about using my face to pleasure my partner. My penis is just an appendage (and not a terribly attractive one), but my face is me. It's the part of myself that I associate with my self. As such, using the part of me that I most associate with myself as a person to pleasure my partner makes the experience much more intimate for me. I'm not just experiencing a pleasant touch (as would be the case through my penis), but also scent and taste as well, that I wouldn't experience otherwise." (Take heed, ladies. A LOT of men think of intercourse in the way that he expressed it.)

This is how I see the act of sex (minus the emotional connection) vs. affection. Someone can have sex with someone else, just to get off. But it's very hard to be affectionate towards another individual and be selfish at the same time. Affection is about being gentle and, to a certain degree, even vulnerable. It's about sharing the sentimental side of your being. A relationship that is affectionate is a relationship that is truly invaluable (and I doubt is lacking in the sex department either!).

6. Nurturing

This is another word that gets slept on way too much when it comes to associating it with intimacy. I think it's because a lot of us think of nurture as it relates to parenting; you know, "to bring up; train; educate" and NO ONE wants to be trained by their romantic partner.

But there are other definitions of nurture that I think definitely do apply to intimate relationships. Nurture also means to feed and protect which makes me think of an episode of A Different World when Dwayne told Whitley that "good love is like good grub". He followed that up by saying to her, "You need someone who's gonna feed you, Whitley."

Nurture also means to encourage and develop. The reason why I think this is paramount is because I am not of the belief that the purpose of long-term relationships is for two people to change one another. At the same time, what I do think, is when the relationship is healthy and purpose-filled, two individuals can't help but to improve one another. The core of them remains the same, but they continue to become "2.0 versions" of themselves. To me, mutual nurturing facilitates this. It's one of the greatest rewards that comes as the result of being intimate with another human being.

7. Spirituality

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In a nutshell, our spirituality is our spiritual character. People who are spiritual have profound respect for a higher power in their life. People who are spiritual have respect for all living beings. People who are spiritual esteem qualities like humility, honesty and generosity. People who are spiritual tend to value wisdom and knowledge more than fortune and fame. People who are spiritual know that it's more blessed to give than to receive.

People who are spiritual understand that love requires words and actions. No wonder spirituality is something that is a signature trait of a truly intimate relationship.

I once read an article that said when you're in an authentically spiritual relationship with someone else, evidence of that is the fact that you both practice compassion in favor of judgment and forgiveness instead of grudges. Plus, you desire, more than anything else, to be fully present, with your partner, in the relationship—mind, body and soul.

I don't know about you, but I would think that the only way to fully enjoy true and lasting intimacy, on any level, with someone is by first making sure that you are spiritually in sync…first.

8. Faithfulness

Most folks, when they think of the word "faithful", what comes to mind is someone who won't cheat, whether it's physically or emotionally. But it's a word that is a lot bigger than fidelity. When someone is faithful, they keep their word (across the board). They are loyal and reliable. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Faithful people are also super thorough. If they tell you, "I am in this and I'm committed", they are gonna make sure you feel it and know it every single day that you are with them.

I don't know about you, but probably the sexiest trait of intimacy is faithfulness. Any man who is devoted, loving, sincere, consistent, trustworthy and genuine is the kind of man that doesn't have to worry about getting his fill of intimacy, in every room of the house. That's for daggum sure. Faithfulness is the epitome of intimacy. Full stop.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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