6 Habits to Encourage Intimacy in our Partners


Intimacy changes everything. Nothing we see, hear, feel, touch, or think escapes the impact of intimate loving. In intimacy, the world becomes a technicolor place where all our senses go on steroids. Unlike quickly passing infatuations, intimacy lasts. Intimacy grows. And intimacy frightens.

Loving is easier than intimacy. Loving feels natural and not quite so threatening to most of us. But intimacy is another story. Intimacy is one of the rare human experiences that asks us to put valuing another person ahead of protecting ourselves. Intimacy takes time, great courage, and grace under pressure.

We are selfish and self-indulgent in most of the ways we live. We weakly surrender to our fears. We prioritize our comfortable, well-worn images of ourselves far above the importance we place on knowing others. We fail to learn the repeated lesson that liberty comes only from transcending ourselves.

We think so much about who we are; we judge our partners; we speak out in gratuitous anger. We present inauthentic façades. We don't silence ourselves when we trespass cruelly on others’ hearts, and we avoid vulnerability at all costs. We closely guard our status quo because change scares us.

What we ultimately wind up avoiding is the best experience life has to offer: intimacy. Without intimacy, we always will feel a nagging discomfort that something important is missing. Without intimacy, we suffer a nuanced kind of loneliness that afflicts too many people.
Some Suggestions

We know that none of us, no matter how loving and well-intentioned, has the power to change anyone else. In our seeking after intimacy, we are called upon to live this knowledge.

Motivation truly is a door that opens from the inside. We can develop habits in ourselves that encourage our partners to join us on our intimate journeys, but we can only model and invite. We cannot force someone else to participate in this life-altering experience, no matter how exquisite an opportunity we believe it to be.

Here are six habits we can model that might influence our partners to join us:

Love well.

Love is a necessity for intimacy. To leave behind our old constructions of reality in order to set up a new narrative created by two, we need extreme motivation. Because love craves connection, love tempts us ever closer to intimacy.

We decide whether to take the leap into intimacy or forever to live in a monochrome world. When we stop at a more superficial version of love, we grow disappointed. But without intense love, we cannot have intimacy.

Be courageous and brave.

Courage is the motivation to dare greatly in our relationships. Bravery is the act of daring. We need both courage and bravery to walk forward into the risks of intimacy. We need both the internal push toward our beloved as well as the behaviors that create this connection.

Intimacy glorifies and shames our most dearly held notions of our selves. Our identities go up for grabs as we become two rather than one. Courage means acting bravely in spite of our fears over losing our old selves.

But the scars we receive for our efforts at intimacy are scars we can proudly display.

Take leaps of trust.

We must take leaps of trust, never being completely certain that our beloved will catch us. Trust means having the faith to leap in the absence of a guarantee. Trust is a most precious gift especially when there is no way for us to know for certain that we will be safe.

Trust means putting our very selves on the line. Trust is one of the most important acts of intimate loving.

Suspend judgment and choose respect instead.

Setting aside our habits of making judgments of value means respecting whatever our partners reveal to us without making the revelations good or bad and without making our partners guilty.

Respect is the flip-side of trust: without respect, our partners cannot trust us enough to reveal their authentic selves. Without respect, our partners are likely to think that we make them responsible for all their misguided and unskillful actions as well as for poor decisions they might have taken before.

Judgment is the antithesis of unconditional love, and so it is the antithesis of intimacy.

Exercise patience.

Especially if intimacy is new — or if our partners have been hurt by prior attempts at connection — we are asked to be patient in our seeking. Insecure and anxious partners will need more support than others to engage in intimacy.

Intimacy is a decision. The risk-adverse others in our lives are likely to struggle vehemently to maintain their status quo, often casting intimacy as an enemy intruder. Sometimes good things come to those who wait — and the decision for intimacy can be a long time coming for some people.

Know that failure is a very real and painful possibility.

To walk the talk of intimacy, we must be open to failures and rejections. We must take risks.

Not everyone will be motivated to engage in intimate loving. Some find the idea of such connections threatening in the extreme.

The Wrap

Intimacy changes and challenges everything. Pain is deeper than before because it hits us at our core.

Intimacy shapes our futures, our worlds, and on the most frightening of levels, ourselves.

One of the great disappointments in life is loving someone who rejects our offers of intimacy. We can try to develop habits that encourage them to join us, but we learn that some things are beyond our powers to control. While this can seem to us a tragic choice, we can't always modify their decisions.

Sometimes we sadly find that our attempts at moving forward into intimacy with a chronically reluctant partner take the shape of moving on.

Everything ends, and yet the impact of real intimacy never does. We are changed by intimacy in ways that nothing else can change us. We carry our changes with us always. Nothing else can deny us the growth-filled experiences we have had or are having. We receive the legacies of intractable pain and blissful healing from intimacy. No wonder many of our partners guard their hearts against this renegade experience!

Many thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment