Intimacy with Illness
Intimacy is a feeling of being close, connected, and supported. Whether it is physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual there is an element of healing and comfort through intimacy with others. Human beings function optimally, heal optimally, and thrive in close communities.Why, you may ask, am I writing a blog about this? It’s because it directly pertains to our health! Lack of intimacy can make healing emotional and physical ailments much harder.
Patients with chronic illnesses are often not feeling well enough for physical intimacy. I encourage them to find other ways to feel close to their loved ones including romantic partners, platonic friends, or family members.
“Intimacy is a very important part of being human. Disease and Illness make it very difficult to want to explore intimacy. It makes it more of a luxury than a need.”- Molly from the Dying for Sex Podcast
Here a woman with terminal cancer shines light on how the prospect of death uninhibited her sexually...but how having cancer wasn’t really hot.
Intimacy is different for everyone and I try to encourage patients (regardless of illness) to be intimate in various ways. Here are some ways to be intimate without sexual intercourse:
Talk with vulnerability- tell your story, share your hopes and dreams and fears. There’s nothing more erotic than feeling understood.
Touch each other non sexually- hold hands, swap massages, cuddle. So many people are lacking human touch, a necessary part of our mammalian lives! Don’t let your loved one stay untouched.
Read to each other. This is an incredible bonding experience where two people can stay engaged and have meaningful discussions. So much different than catching a movie.
Take a bath together. Do the whole bit..candles, bubbles, ya know.
Groom each other. Take care of each other’s hair and skin.
Cook together and eat together. Set the table. Make it an event!
Start a new hobby together: gardening, puzzle solving, a sport or board game.
The point is...finding a way to connect while suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses is monumental to all of our quality of life. If anyone you know is in a rough situation...offer them platonic intimacy...reach out touch them! (But ask first!). ;)