A Few Mathematical Considerations of Intimacy

What is the definition of intimacy? It can’t be simply “closeness.” You could be very close to a person and never be intimate with them. What if that person bores the mind out of you? Are you intimate simply because they know everything about you? What if you run in such perfect sync that you never gain any fresh perspective from them? Is that intimacy? Imagine two parallel lines: It doesn’t matter how close they get, just because they’re close doesn’t mean there is any interchange. Ok. Go with me on the line thing. Let’s say that different types of lines represent different types of relationships, and let’s say that how many times two lines intersect describes the level of intimacy in that relationship.

Ok. Straight lines. Very boring. They never change; they never waver. How they are is how they are. You see one part of them, you know all about them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lots of relationships are simple and straightforward and easy to read. But straight lines only intersect once. That means that the closest to intimacy two straight lines can get is two really close parallel lines. Any closer than that and they’re not two lines, it’s the same line. If these people are coming from different directions (or have a different perspective), the closest to intimacy that they get is that one time true encounter where they really connect. It’s very profound, but that’s it. They just don’t belong together.

How about relationships that change? We need some curves. Let’s try parabola and hyperbola. I don’t remember the equation for hyperbola, but parabola are pretty simple: it’s that x=y² thing. The line on the graph comes down from out of nowhere, gets to a certain point, makes a sharp turn and heads back out in exactly the opposite direction, up and out. So we’ve got two people coming from roughly the same direction, they get close for a while, have a few intimate moments, and then they go their own separate ways.

Of course, the really interesting stuff involves circles. I think a circle describes a relationship that just isn’t going anywhere. Two perfect circles would either go round and round connecting in the same places but never really changing, or they would simply never get any closer together. Either way it’s rather pointless (ha ha).

However, by far the best relationships could be described by trigonometry functions. You know, x=cosine y-1, and all that stuff. Radio waves. They go back and forth over the same general area, forever. It always changes, so it doesn’t get boring. But there’s a definite pattern, so it doesn’t get weird. You know what to expect. So, those of you who kept your handy dandy little graphing calculators from high school, put in the same graph the equations of x=sine y and x=cosine y. They’re exactly opposite, right? But look, one goes up exactly the same as the other comes down and then they go back, so they meet in the middle. And then they do it again. If intimacy is the number of times they cross each other and really really make connection, really touch the other’s life, these guys are infinitely more intimate than any other type of relationship in the world. No matter how far apart they get, they’ll always come back together. And look, they’re both exactly opposite and exactly the same. Folks, these guys are married. Or best friends: x=sin y and x=sin y-.25. They’re almost exactly the same, but they come from a little different background, so they still intersect.

Of course, since people’s personalities have so many more dimensions than just two, we have the opportunity to be all of these sorts of things at the same time. To some people I’m a straight line and to others I’m cosine to their tangent. Some people are always there but nothing ever changes. It all depends on what lines it runs along.

Author: KB French

Formerly many things, including theology student, mime, jr. high Latin teacher, and Army logistics officer. Currently in the National Guard, and employed as a civilian... somewhere

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