“You want another Bahama Papa?”
“Yes, please,” I said to my butler “it’s delicious” swirling around my locally-brewed daiquiri drink. I lay out in an Ibiza bikini on a cabana with a handsome man in the Bahamas. I barely knew a thing about him but here we were, on an Island over a thousand miles away from home, trying to learn about each other. It was my first date with Nick.
We met in the most unromantic of ways. My business partner had used my LinkedIn to recruit Nick to be a mentor on our business’ platform. She then invited him as our guest to the Forbes Under30 Summit. They had chatted casually from my LinkedIn account for a couple weeks prior to the event, she vetted him as a mentor and he had agreed to come on board. In his eyes, we were already quite well acquainted.
While at the Summit, he came up to me to say a big warm “Hello”. However, I had no knowledge of any of the above and therefore had no damn idea who this person was.
“Hi, my name is Leah. Do I know you?” I asked him, seriously perplexed.
“Leah… we’ve been talking for weeks….” he said starting to get angry and defensive.
My head was ringing [[creeper alert]].
He continued to tell me how we knew each other, everything about my background and follow me around. At one point it was too much and I told him off, still having absolutely no idea who this person was but half considering telling the authorities.
I found my business partner and she told me the backstory. OOPS.
I bumped into him that night at Cuba Libre, the club that Forbes’ sponsored their evening event and apologized, explaining that it was my business partner on my account and that I would indeed like to talk to him.
He smiled and forgave me and then quickly (like a good Marine) ordered four Fireball shots and Budweisers.
We took our shots and grabbed our beers and a small table in the back corner of the bar. That first night, I sat down and listened. He talked for hours and hours, telling me about his childhood, his deepest dreams and desires, his insecurities and what he felt his inadequacies were. I didn’t speak a word; I just listened. He was truly vulnerable with me and I knew from that moment that I wanted to know more about this incredible man. However, I was not vulnerable back. A true definition of intimacy is shared vulnerability and that isn’t possible if the vulnerability is only one-sided.
After that first night, we kept talking but knew that we needed a true fire test to figure out if this was going to work. He lived in NYC, I lived in DC, we both ran companies with employees that depended on us, and well, hell, it’s our personality type to take things to the extremes.
So, in one day, we booked the first tickets that we found on Expedia to an island, which happened to be the Bahamas, and two days later we left. We set a rule: while there, we would be completely vulnerable with each other, the whole time. By the end of the trip, we would know if we wanted to marry or never speak to each other again. Yeah, Black/white… no joke.
After extreme jet lag and another couple Bahama Papas, I realized that I was still trying to show him my “best” self and was breaking my rule. I have only wanted to be with a man that desired me for my true self so off with the makeup and on with the tears.
It was unbelievably hard to be brutally honest and vulnerable with him but I was able to do it, and ended up sobbing tears of love and professing my true love to him about a week later while in his arms, wearing his big t-shirt on our hotel room couch.
If a definition of intimacy is “in-to-me-see” then it’s only when you really are ass-naked literally and metaphorically that you can truly share an intimate moment. When you are standing with your significant other completely in the buff it can be the truest sense of vulnerability. Nudity can feel lonely, small, provocative, defenseless, untouched, raw, beautiful, and very human all at once.
This same sense of vulnerability is how I expressed myself to Nick and he to me, while we were in the Bahamas. We shared vulnerability and experienced true intimacy. I believe that is why we are as strong as we are today.
So, maybe what I’m saying is that if you want to feel true intimacy with your loved one, then you should both strip to the nude, ASAP!