Recently, everydayhealth.com published this awesome article. We love this piece for a few reasons. It talks frankly about intimacy and love (it starts with you) and the importance of holding intimacy in our lives. WHP reflected on intimacy this month and spoke with Dr. Sophocles. She shared her thoughts on having a place you can call special.
WHP: A lot of time, in the popular media, when intimacy is referenced, the assumption is we are talking about sex. Can you talk about other kinds of intimacies?
MS: As a gynecologist and sexual medicine specialist, I see patients of all ages, at every stage of life. Intimacy at its most basic level is about human connectivity. As a child, it might mean being close to a parent or a grandparent; as a teenager, it might mean connecting closely with a same-sex friend; young adults begin exploring sexual intimacy as a level of connectedness beyond sexual gratification. In midlife, we look for intimacy as a deeper connectivity with a life partner and also search for intimacy among friends and family members.
WHP: What does partnership mean to you, both in terms of platonic and romantic or life partner loves?
MS: Partnership is not a percentage. It is not a 50-50 measured relationship, but rather a mutual understanding, whether platonic or professional or romantic in nature, of a respect and understanding of the needs of each member. Perhaps we do not share all the duties of the partnership equally, but we decide together to divide responsibilities in order to have a successful outcome, whether that means a profitable business, a satisfying friendship, or a healthy sex life or marriage.
WHP: What is self-love?
MS: Self-love has been promoted and shamed, tauted and damned over the centuries. Artistotle believed humans love themselves either for personal gain or to be better humans and thereby make their communities better. In the 1950s, psychologists proposed that loving oneself was not necessarily the same as being arrogant or egocentric. I have many female patients, mostly midlife or older, who feel that self-love means being selfish or self-centered. A more progressive view is that it involves advocating for one’s mental and physical health. The emergence of social media has created a platform for re-examining self-love and to address self-love positively, rather than negatively. A few modern examples of self-love promotion platforms include:
WHP: What would be your top three guidelines to live by that prioritize seeking and engaging a healthy intimate life?
- Do not be critical. When we criticize and judge people with whom we seek intimacy, it builds resentment and prohibits the other person from feeling they can be open and vulnerable. They feel they will be judged and criticized.
- Communicate openly, but sensitively. Advice is rarely solicited, and if it is not solicited, refrain from giving advice; however, there are ways to improve intimacy through suggestion or example.
- Have a sense of humor.
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