Friendship and Intimacy

Intimacy is not merely that “at home” feeling with friends, though certainly the experience of friendship is essential for intimacy.  We need all the lessons of friendship, whether from elder, or teacher, or peer, to experience intimacy in loving relationships.


A friend is one with whom the other can be comfortable.

An intimate in one with whom the other can be uncomfortable.


A friend is one with whom the other is honest.

An intimate is one with whom the other can be honestly dishonest—who is so closely interbonded into the other’s life that the other can play their little games of self-deception while all the time the intimate knows games are being played, and is willing to let them be, so the other can release them. The intimate lets the other work through defensiveness, which devises the game for protection so that defensiveness can be grown through.


A friend is one who draws the other out of crabbiness and moodiness, who encourage the recovery of that pleasant aspect which the other truly wants to have.

An intimate is the one who accepts the other in the pleasant aspect, but challenges the other to draw up to the surface the crabbiness and moodiness hidden underneath.



            A friend is one who remains present with the other in suffering and comforts the other in that suffering.

An intimate is one who suffers with the other in the suffering.


A friend in one who helps the other out of suffering, even if only by helping the other to become reconciled with that suffering.

                         An intimate is one who gets down into the suffering of the other, who lies on the pavement with the other and feels its hardness and coldness, who experiences the same hurt with which the other cannot at present be reconciled, who hurts in the intensity of the other’s hurt, who feels with the other the overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable pain of that hurt.



            A friend is one who can appreciate both the other’s laughter and tears.

An intimate is one who knows the person who is laughing and crying and can hear the cry in the laugher and laughter in the cry.


A friend is one who does not leave the other in loneliness, but remains present to encourage moving through the very friendship out of the loneliness.

An intimate is one who knows the other’s loneliness and moves through that loneliness and beyond the loneliness to truly becoming alone.


George Jeannot, a Seattle theologian

From the book: “Chaos or Creation: Spirituality in Mid-Life” Carroll & Dyckman