Where are you? I don’t mean what part of the world are you sitting; I mean where within your body do you reside? The ancients believed that their spirits rested in their hearts and this belief still projects into our language today. Modern understanding of neurology tells us that our consciousness is (largely) a brain function so, as I’m sure is true for most people, I regard the “real me” to occupy a space somewhere behind my eyes.

I think of my hair or my nails, they’re me but not the real me. I can lop them off without anaesthetic; they have no feeling. I had all four wisdom teeth removed many years ago. I certainly needed anaesthetic for that caper but I don’t feel incomplete without them. I still feel the whole me is left behind. I could go on, estimating how important each bit of me is to the make up of the real me.

When we speak of physical intimacy, we’re into the language of body parts. I can shake hands with a work colleague, but that bodily contact does not make us physically intimate. I will not be touching his genitals any time soon, nor he mine.

We speak of emotional intimacy involving our consciousness, our hopes and fears, needs and desires. Similarly, there are things that I won’t discuss with a colleague, nor wish to hear from him.

Inevitably, there are degrees of intimacy, both physical and emotional. It’s possible to kiss someone you don’t really care about and shrug it off. I presume that actors must do this regularly. It will be more of a challenge to have sexual intercourse with a complete stranger, though presumably this is “bread and butter” for prostitutes and porn stars.

Where can you be touched, with what and by whom? When you start to analyse, you realise it’s a highly complex subject. For example, my pal can put his hand on my shoulder, but not his foot or his tongue. My boss can’t put his hand anywhere near me! I absolutely love my partner’s head in my crotch but no part of her is allowed anywhere near my bum-hole. If she began kissing my inner thigh, whilst we were sat in the pub, I’d have to take her home! Add in family, close friends, not-so-close friends, state of dress, situation, legacy, history, witnesses, time of day: the complexity is seemingly endless.

So how does all this fit together at total intimacy? Is the ideal of absolute surrender and access, both physical and mental, a reality worth seeking, or is it a myth, best consigned to sloppy fiction?

If you believe it to be real, where do you think you and your partner are at? Are all of your fantasies and desires shared and fulfilled? Do either of you have no-go areas, things you can’t ask for or refused acts? When you’re making love, are there any elephants in the room? Do you give and not receive (or vice versa)?

I recall a song from long ago that touched me. Jimi Hendrix released Little Wing in 1967 (Axis: Bold As Love). The second verse lyrics are:

When I’m sad, she comes to me
With a thousand smiles, she gives to me free
It’s alright she says it’s alright
Take anything you want from me,

Anything is a very big word.


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