Learning to See Intimacy As Less of a Beast, More of a Beauty

TW: sexual assault and sexual content

When you reach the end of a Disney princess movie, there’s one thing you’re guaranteed to see: the big kiss. As a little girl who also frequently watched Disney movies, the sight of the prince-and-princess lip lock always piqued my interest. I would wind up daydreaming about what my grandeur Disney kiss would look like. I never did think about the aftermath, after the kiss, when the credits rolled. I never did imagine it would end with me curled up in a fetal position, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.

When asked about my intimacy issues, the first question is always about where they originated. Do you recoil at a man’s touch because of childhood trauma? Or is it because of a social anxiety disorder? I was required to kiss a boy for a school play in my senior year of high school, and when my mother would pick me up in her car watching me shake and sniff and rub my lips uncontrollably she’d say, “It’s like you’ve been sexually assaulted or something.” As though this would be the only reason I would have such a disgust with acts of love.

As a coping mechanism, I saw intimacy as something sparkly and special. I created a version of it that was romanticized and extremely unobtainable, so that my inability to do anything other than be repulsed after being close to a man could be justified. He didn’t care about me and therefore it wasn’t intimacy, I’d say, despite the fact that I had just spent the night in his bed, and now found myself crying on public transportation at what I had done. I never felt such guilt when I masturbated, only when someone else had touched me.

I try now to define intimacy as something that isn’t exclusive to two people in a sexual relationship; I define intimacy as something that can be when my friend and I exchange secrets or I lie my head on someone’s shoulder on our way home after a long night. I define intimacy as being comfortable with myself, no matter where I am or who I’m around. It’s difficult to see it this way more often than not. I have to push myself and my brain to think differently. But if I don’t, I will be trapped in sobs and confusion about how Ariel doesn’t wipe her mouth after Eric places his lips on hers and why Aurora didn’t find Phillip creepy after he kissed her awake. That’s a state of mind I don’t want to be in anymore, I can’t let myself be in anymore.

Accepting physical contact can be tough, accepting emotional contact even more so, and maybe you won’t be ready to engage with someone in a certain way for a very long time. Despite the melodramatic sex scenes we grow up watching, it’s okay not to be okay with intimacy. What matters is that you give yourself room to grow and you find ways to redefine the word for you so that it’s comfortable. From there, you’re more than likely to find something a lot better than a Disney kiss.

By Cassie Bristow


  1. So powerful and so true! Good writer. Whoever you end up intimate with, and in whatever way, will be lucky to know you because you're obviously sensitive and insightful

  2. I felt a little bit like you feel after that kiss - ready to cry! What a beautiful, deep, soul-sharing piece. But - how can you already be so insightful?
    I look forward to reading on and seeing how your endeavor unfolds....

  3. What honesty, perceptiveness, and courage as a writer and as a woman! I admire your humor the most. It's true--you've got to kiss a lot of frogs before (or if) you find the prince. In fairness, and leaving Disney princesses behind, people become better, and more considerate, lovers, with time and age. Keep writing, please!

  4. You are so deeply connected to the fear of intimacy. It's real for so many of us. Loving yourself is the starting point. As you say, you can't give someone else what you don't already have for yourself. Whew! It's a lot of work, isn't it? But worth it, so worth it. Please keep writing!

  5. One can have up and downs on the intimacy levels with the same person, exactly as with being closer or farther from someone physically. казанова капки цена