One of the things I like most about meeting new people is the fact that every single one of them is a pretty package full of surprises.
No matter how long you’ve known each other, or how well you think you know them: underneath that familiar “tip-of-the-iceberg” face there will always be a myriad of ways in which you still don’t.
If you would dedicate your life to it, you could spend a lifetime getting to know someone and still not be done. (Though I don’t advise actually doing that, please leave some room in there to have your own life. It’s a fun thing to have, you know? ? )
Not so long ago, I met someone new. And without realizing it, we’ve been going through all these different “phases” of getting to know each other in new ways.
At first, all we would do was talk. Ever. Sometimes we’d sit and talk, other times we’d walk and talk. But basically, we were just getting to know each other’s words. And it was great. I could spend years in this phase with the right kind of person.
Then out of nowhere, there came a phase when we never talked. Ever.
That was definitely great too. I could spend even more years doing that ?
After that came a phase with lots of emotions, and accepting that disgusting lovey dovey side of ourselves while trying our best not to puke all the time.
The next phase was suddenly very practical. Doing groceries together for convenience. Cleaning her house after we managed to make it dirty again. Figuring out where we were going to hide the body and find a good alibi.
Then came getting to know each other’s dark side. The insecurities, the sadness, the pain. Not the typical “problems” you worry about. The deep stuff we normally don’t ever share with other people.
Now I feel we’re past that and I start to wonder what the next phase will be:
• Learning to support and carry each other?
• Telling her more about what I do in my day-to-day life (which is –apparently- I manage to never tell anybody about)?
• Perhaps traveling together?
The cool thing is that every time we’re past one of these phases, that “area” becomes integrated with the rest. Which strengthens the overall friendship.
With other people, I never went through such a process that was so clearly defined. Usually getting to know them happened in a more chaotic way. We were constantly jumping back and forth between all these different areas. So even though I had experienced it, I was never before aware there are so many ways in which you can intimately get to know each other:
• Jokingly (Do they like: Puns & wordplay? Silly things? Slapstick? Politically incorrect irony? Sarcasm? Literally everything?)
• Aesthetically (learning to admire their beauty or experiencing other beautiful things together)
• Energetically (how does it feel to go through your day as normal, but in their presence?)
• Socially (how do they treat other people, how do they react to different dynamics in your relationship, or in a group)
• When they are alone (how do they behave when they forget you are there? This is one of the things I love most about people.)
• Creatively (making music together, etc.)
• In times of crisis
• Professionally (working on something together)
• When there’s problems between YOU
• Recreationally (Are they competitive? Process / goal oriented? How do they deal with losing?)
• In adventurous situations
• In mundane situations
• On drugs
• The private little worlds in your heads
There’s probably even more of these little “areas of intimacy” that you can explore together with someone I can’t think of at this moment.
The cool thing is, that within each of these areas, there’s a whole list of other options as well.
Obviously; when you get to know someone intellectually that already has enough options to keep you busy for a lifetime. Especially if they’re very passionate about something.
When it comes to experiencing beauty together it can be about: Flavors, sounds, places, people, feelings, smells, other people, etc.
When comes to the physical you can discover if/how they like to cuddle. Do they like a good head scratching? What type of touch do they enjoy giving or receiving? What’s their favorite massage? What happens when you’re very soft and nurturing vs. when you hit and scratch each other ‘till it hurts?
On a sexual level: What happens when they seduce you vs when you seduce them. Or when one of you is more submissive/dominant vs. the other.
What’s it like to treat them like a worthless being that only exists for you to use for your own pleasure (or vice versa)?
Then what happens when you stare into each other’s eyes for half an hour and then proceed to make soft, silky smooth sweet loving until your souls become one, a jazz master bursts into an epic saxophone solo next to you, and all the angels in heaven give you a standing ovation? (Even though you’re technically not married.)
Cool story bro, but what can I do with this information?
Well, if you currently feel like (one of) your relationship(s) is stuck in a rut, or some of your friendships are not as fun as it used to be, it might be worth it to ask yourself:
• What phase has this relationship been stuck in?
• What other areas of intimacy are there to explore?
• In what new ways can we get to know each other in the current areas?
There’s enough options to last for a lifetime, but often we fall into the same boring patterns without knowing it.
I have friends who I have a super deep intellectual/emotional/physical connection with, yet haven’t had one good laugh-so-hard-I-fall-on-the-floor-to-almost-cry-out-my-eyeballs-and-choke-on-some-vegan-pudding-while-I-keep-spasmically-stomping-on-the-carpet-and-the-cat-looks-at-me-like-what-have-you-been-smoking-dude? moments with, while I have others who know me pretty well in that area but I’ve never shared a strong heart-to-heart hug with. Or played a board game with for that matter.
I also fucked up at least one relationship with a woman because I neglected to explore the areas that mattered for her.
The cool thing is, as long as you’re both growing as a person, new layers keep popping up and old ones keep getting updated. So why should we limit ourselves to the ways in which we already know someone once we’re comfortable enough together?
What would be the next area of intimacy for you to explore with the people closest to you? In what way do you not yet know each other? What are some things you’ve never done together?
How about switching things up and doing one “very atypical thing” for your friendship with every person you know? Wasn’t it nice getting to know them for the first time?
How about having a little of that feeling all the time from now on?
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