Can a single adult experience intimacy or is it just for those who are married? To answer that question, let’s revisit the definition of intimacy that we have been using throughout Freedom Connection’s Mission: Intimacy. Intimacy is “a mutual, intentional, close, safe, growing relationship where there is authenticity, transparency and vulnerability.”
The answer is yes! Anyone can experience intimacy. Whether you are a single adult, in a difficult marriage, or in a fabulous thriving marriage, you can experience intimacy in a way that is satisfying and rewarding. It is how our culture views intimacy that has often brought the confusion and questions about whether single adults can experience intimacy. When we look at the truth of God’s Word and what His perspective is concerning relationships, nobody is excluded from experiencing intimacy.
This article follows previous postings on intimacy with our community and friends, as well as in marriage. These are all areas where intimacy can be found. However, a deeper intimacy and the most foundational intimacy we can experience is intimacy with God – Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Often we pass over that without thinking deeply about what intimacy with God looks like and how we personally can experience all of those different aspects of intimacy with or without having a marriage partner.
As a single woman in my fifties, I have been through many stages of life. At times I’ve experienced loneliness and an overwhelming desire for marriage and children. However, as I have learned and grown in life I have come to understand the bigger picture of intimacy and God’s plan. My personal perspectives also have changed as I seek to develop relationships that fill the need in my life for connection. The foundation of these relationships is a living, breathing relationship with God that consumes every aspect of my life.
No matter what your “status” in life is, I want to encourage you that you can develop relationships that fill the God-given need for connection that each of us have. This does not mean that you need to let go of the desire to ever be married; that is a personal decision between you and God. But my hope is that if you choose to pursue a relationship that leads to marriage, you are not pursuing it out of a desperate need to fulfill a lonely place in your heart, but instead move toward the hope of marriage with a contentedness, already experiencing intimacy in your life.
The fulfillment of our need for relationship starts with seeing the big picture of God’s invitation to us – an invitation to intimacy with Himself.
Without the truth of God’s big picture, many have the distorted view that marriage is the most intimate of all relationships we can experience. With that mindset, it would lead to the lie that a single person is lacking, not complete; they will always be lonely and not fulfilled.
So what is God’s bigger picture? Marriage was designed as a representation of Jesus Christ and His bride( Jesus followers). His Word in Ephesians 5 speaks of marriage here on this earth and compares it to the heavenly concept of marriage. Through Jesus giving His life on the cross on our behalf, for our sin (1 John 4:9-11), as we accept His sacrifice for us, we are accepting a relationship with Him as our bridegroom. This is the most intimate of all possible relationships. Intimacy with God that He invites us to is an intimacy that goes far beyond a married couple who has the earthy constrains of miscommunication, human error, etc. Yes, marriage is a very beautiful and sacred representation of Jesus and His bride. He created marriage and loves the joy that the union of marriage can bring. Yet how much deeper can we grow in our intimacy with God who knows our every thought (Psalm 139) and is passionately in love with us (Rom 8:37-39)? Just take a moment and let that sink in… the intimacy level that is possible with our bridegroom! What I want you to consider, whether you are married or single, is the deep intimacy that can be experienced with God – Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.
Just like any relationship, our relationship with God grows deeper as we spend time with Him, talk with Him, and invite Him into every area of our lives. He already knows everything we think – don’t get scared, that is not a bad thing. He knows, but is also committed to us and loves us. He desires open communication from us where we are willing to be in a “mutual, intentional, close, safe growing relationship where there is authenticity, transparency and vulnerability” with Him. He desires to not just be our bridegroom in “name only” but in real, day by day, moment by moment, relationship with him.
What about our relationship with people? If we have an intimate, growing relationship with God, do we still need people in our life? Of course! God wired us that way… to need human connection and to need each other.
One way I think of the relationships is that they are like a bouquet of flowers. We all need a bouquet! But no one person can fill all the relational needs that we have, not even a spouse. A bouquet is something to grow and develop. Be intentional about growing your relationships and be ok with “flowers” being re-arranged occasionally. Invest in your bouquet, water those relationships and value them. Protect them, not with jealousy or possessiveness, but with prayer and lots of care.
The reasons that we need these relationships in our lives are many. Some are so that we can experience personal growth when others see our blind spots. Others are sharing the joys, laughter, sadness and tears of life with someone. We all have unique gifts and talents and just as the Word tells us that we all are parts of one body that make up a whole together (1 Corinthians 12), we are not self-sufficient. We are interdependent. We need to be connected to others who balance out our strengths and weaknesses. This is not a lack on our part, but the way God created us.
What are some hindrances to finding this kind of intimacy as a single adult? The reasons vary greatly, but they typically start with not understanding and/or pursuing the intimacy that IS available first of all with God, then others. Once we get the big picture of God’s design for relationships with Himself and others, we can move forward in putting pride aside, being willing to be vulnerable in safe relationships and growing in intimate relationships that keep us fulfilled rather than lonely.
Some questions to ponder: