The “I” in Intimacy
Nine Cornerstones of a Rewarding Relationship / By Eric Leech
February is a good month to do some housekeeping on your own love life. This should include defining your relationship, re-evaluating your expectations, throwing away any lingering grudges and rediscovering the “I” in intimacy. Most people consider the idea of an intimate relationship to mean the amount of romance and sex they are receiving from their partner. The actual definition should read, “A warm relationship between lovers guided by your ability to be understanding, informal, vulnerable, apathetic, needy, familiar, trusting, spiritual and emotionally available.” If you notice, these are all things you can do yourself without relying on your partner’s psychic abilities. Don’t wait around for your partner to do the work. Use these nine ingredients to discover true intimacy for yourself.
To connect with your partner, you must communicate effectively, expressing everything from your goals and dreams to your fears and passions. This connection should include the traditional non-verbal expressions of love, such as caressing, cuddling and—a man’s favorite—sex.
Your connection to your partner is driven by a clear understanding of what you mean to each other and the shared journey you have chosen to embark upon. To achieve this, you must be aware of who you are, accept your partner’s flaws and acknowledge the sacred life force that has been created by this union of body and soul.
Intimacy is not just defined by your lover, but also your closest friends and family. These are the people you feel relaxed with because you can be yourself with them. If you are hiding your true self from your partner because you’re afraid of not being accepted, you have already sabotaged your chance of discovering what intimacy is all about.
You should never be afraid to tell an intimate lover how you feel about something important, even if it could potentially hurt their feelings. You should know them well enough to explain your feelings gently so they will understand where you’re coming from, and choose to take the path of understanding, rather than stonewalling.
When you give yourself to someone, you are putting your trust in that person that they will not take advantage of their position to hurt you. While this is a risk, it is also the only way to open yourself to the possibility of discovering intimacy in any relationship.
Your partner should feel like that favorite pair of jeans in your closet. You know, the ones that are so worn they almost disintegrate when you slide them on. They fit every time (even after that extra dollop of mashed potatoes), look great, make you feel fantastic and you could find them blindfolded in a room full of other jeans if you had to.
Intimacy is about ushering your partner to a front-row seat in the story of your life. It is an unspoken promise that you will remain open to them, sharing your most intimate, closely guarded secrets, and, in return, they will respect and hold on to them as if they were their own.
Empathy is the ability to know your lover so well, you can sense how they feel. Your partner could walk into a room and, without even saying a word, you would know that something was wrong. This may be as close to experiencing a soul mate as most of us will ever come.
The need to be with your partner can be characterized as an unhealthy, jealous relationship. In this case, however, neediness is not being defined as the fear of being apart because you might lose them, but rather comes from the desire to share as much of your life with them as possible.
Each of these elements can establish a positive connection with any human being. However, when combined, they make up the truest form of intimacy that can be achieved between two romantic lovers. This is not always a natural progression, and getting here may take some effort on your part. In fact, it may take a lot of effort. But that’s all a part of the discovery that “I” should be at the forefront of every successful intimate relationship.