“Relationships are eternal. The ‘separation’ is another chapter in the relationship. Often, letting go of the old form of the relationship becomes a lesson in pure love much deeper than any would have learned had the couple stayed together”. – Marianne Williamson
I recently wrote a guest blog for Positive Spin.
The name of my post was Relationships: Are You Happy With Stability or Would You Prefer Intimacy?
Nearly all the responses to the above-mentioned post landed on the side of intimacy.
Only one person opted for stability, which really got me thinking. Most of us say that we want intimacy over stability but as I think about it, I am not sure intimacy is really possible without stability.
First and foremost, before one can go ahead with intimacy one needs to feel safe in their relationships. So here is some relationship advice.
Speaking for myself, if I do not feel safe with you (emotionally, physically, psychologically) there is no way I am going for a deeper heart connection.
So I’m rethinking my original question: Are you happy with stability or would you prefer intimacy? My answer is stability first then working toward increasing levels of intimacy.
The truth is, I want both, at least in my primary love relationship. Other relationships such as friends and family members are not as important to me.
First let me define what I mean when I speak of intimacy.
I am definitely not talking about sex. Although sex can certainly be a part of intimacy, I am referring to heart to heart intimacy.
The kind of intimacy where I can tell you the truth about who I am even if you disagree or judge me.
It is not our partner’s job to validate our thoughts, beliefs, values and emotions.
If we are waiting for that to happen or believe that we can’t be authentic until our partner validates or agrees with us, then we are emotionally immature and thwarting deeper connections.
Sure it feels good when someone validates us but that cannot be the only time or the only for reason self-disclosure or emotional honesty.
Think about it.
Do I accommodate my partner (friend/parent) to avoid conflict until I gradually become weary of trying to get my wants and needs met?
Do I alter, bend, comply, placate, to avoid conflict with a loved one?
If the above questions strike a chord with you, then I ask you, could you be the weak link in the intimacy chain?
Perhaps you need to learn how to self-validate versus seeking validation from your partner.
When we are too reliant on our partners for validation we become overly dependent, which makes us less willing to risk their anger or other negative reactions.
Their reaction may cause a type of feedback loop effect that leads us to emotionally withdraw (sometimes physically), become angry, or fantasize about leaving the relationship because we feel so misunderstood.
As a couples therapist by profession, I have asked this question dozens of times: “Why didn’t you tell him/her that you felt that way?”
Invariably the response is, “Are you kidding? He (or she) would get mad at me.”
I say, “Okay, let me get this straight, you are being emotionally dishonest in the relationship in order to control your partner’s responses?”
I then ask, “How satisfying is your relationship?” Usually the person says something like, “My relationship is boring, unsatisfying”.
I don’t feel seen or understood and lately, I am thinking about an affair. We just can’t communicate. People who are in love know how to communicate automatically right?” WOW!
I would argue that to the degree that we are trying to manage our anxiety level by stuffing our feelings or whatever the “truth” is for us; to that degree we are contributing to the lack of intimacy in our relationship/s.
Yes, you may have quiet, peaceful evenings together but passion is usually killed off over months, or years, of withholding your truth and stuffing your feelings.
A million small relationship murders committed along the way in the name of peace.
Stable relationships are priceless.
Stable relationships PLUS intimate relationships take hard work and practice.
So if you are going for both (stable and intimate) don’t blame your partner for what’s lacking until you have honestly looked at your own level of emotional honesty.
Dawn DeLisa Novotny MSW, LCSW, MTS, CDP, CP, Is a clinician, teacher, author, spiritual director and national workshop leader. Be sure to visit Dawn’s blog at TheFacesWeLive.com.