What do you think of when you hear the word intimacy?
Perhaps it conjures up images of sexy lingerie, a deep soul mate connection or a passionate, sexual relationship. Certainly, it can refer to all of those aspects but the entire meaning of intimacy is far greater than that.
In our relationships, whether they are marriages, long-term relationships, exclusive partnerships or casual dating experiences, true intimacy is often missing. In fact, most of us don’t know how to achieve a high degree of intimacy with our significant other. When intimacy is lacking in a relationship we get that dark, lonely feeling. You know the one where you feel even lonelier sitting right beside your partner? Nobody wants to feel this empty, so although intimacy takes some work to achieve, it’s well worth the effort.
Open communication, vulnerability, transparency, and reciprocity are required to realize intimacy. It requires letting our partner into our hearts and our minds. Since we all have thoughts and feelings we don’t even accept in ourselves, it seems like quite a stretch to share many of these shameful ideas with others. We often believe that our loved ones would think less of us if we were completely honest. This results in our revealing very little about our true nature.
Disclosing personal information within a romantic or sexual context is important, but being intimate involves much more than this. It requires imparting our ideas about everything, including negative points of view. Sharing how you like to be touched or kissed is an example of open communication. Another is telling your partner in a kind and respectful way that you would appreciate it if he or she would do his or her share of the laundry, instead of just doing it yourself and saying nothing. Speaking in a calm, confident manner is assertive and highly effective.
How many of you choose instead to ‘pick your battles’ figuring it’s not worth speaking up? When we ‘sweep it under the carpet’ by not saying a word, or choose to blame and criticize, we inhibit intimacy. Some of you are probably thinking that ‘speaking in a direct and considerate manner might work for some people, but not with my partner!’
Fortunately, this calm, respectful communication style works with everyone. Having ongoing conversations about your life goals and what your life was like as a child are also necessary, as are discussions about your preferences. Most importantly, you must make a point of letting your partner know what you need to feel loved, what your values are and what makes you happy, angry, jealous or sad.
If you’re ready to get the magic back in your relationship, try being more open in your communication.
Let me know how it goes!