In several recent posts I have discussed how intimacy develops over time. And that the important ingredients for its foundation are honesty and openness – building a firm foundation of trust in one another. That’s sounds easy but what if your relationship is on somewhat rocky ground? And what I’m talking about feels way out of your comfort zone…?
The first thing to ask yourself is ‘What happened?’ Where did things go awry? And why…?’
And on that note, if you would… Take a step back and being really honest with yourself – on a scale of 1- 10… rate the current level of intimacy in your relationship now.
A 10 meaning your intimacy level is very strong and a 0 or 1 meaning it’s in dire need of attention.
Why? Cause if you’re reading this post I can only assume that you’re an action taker and that you want to improve your relationship overall…if so…Congratulations…
Your Intimacy Rating
If you’ve scored an 8, 9 or 10… Congratulations! You’ve achieved a level of intimacy in your relationship that few couples achieve… Anything less than that and you have to ask yourself…Is this good enough? Or what am I prepared to do about it…?
…If you’ve rated the level of intimacy between you and your partner, a 6 or 7 then you’ve put in some solid foundations for intimacy to develop, but to deepen the commitment, start to consider what you can do differently to increase the level of intimacy that you currently experience.
And if you’ve rated the level of intimacy in your relationship a 5 or below…
…Congratulations for being honest with yourself. That’s not easy to do…That said it’s time to look at how the intimacy has slipped away or if it ever existed…
… Rather than resorting to blame… Ask yourself what am I prepared to do now, to strengthen and develop it? What am I prepared to do differently now?
Take responsibility by asking yourself…
‘…How did I contribute to the current situation?’
You might want to take my Relationship Health Questionnaire to see what areas of your relationship might benefit from being addressed first.
What’s important to know is it’s never too late to salvage a relationship or to take it ‘from good to great…or from sagging to bragging.’ All that is needed is the commitment to get things back on track.
Once you’ve considered the state of your relationship then take a step back…Sit down with your partner and have a quiet conversation together… with the aim of taking one small step towards reconnecting and working towards a more intimate and fulfilling relationship. And in that conversation make a commitment to each other to implement one or two small changes towards achieving greater intimacy.
Ask… ’What needs to change…. What am I prepared to do…NOW… to make that change…?’
Love One Another Flaws & All
To achieve this at the deepest level requires self-acceptance as well as an acceptance of your partner… flaws and all.
Here are some action steps for you to consider.
Action Steps Towards True Intimacy
My first recommendation in taking action or steps towards true intimacy is for you and your partner to make an agreement that from this time forward, there’s to be NO ‘right or wrong’ in the relationship.
In other words each of you agrees to adopt a non-competitive stance to one another and to the relationship.
That means that you agree to see one another’s differences in the same way as you might see the different facets of a diamond. Not all sides are perfect but in combination they are. Pure treasure to behold…
People are not the same. And it’s in the variations that we celebrate – the uniqueness!
It’s the multi-faceted sides to your personality and the many different perspectives that you bring to your relationship which when appreciated allows it to grow and flourish!
The Flight or Fight Response
Adopting the position that one of you is right and the other one wrong… in any situation… alters the balance and equality in the relationship…
..And immediately puts one person in the relationship in a position of defence.
And whenever you or your partner feels the need to defend a position, one or both of you slip automatically into a fight or flight mode.
The body’s defence mechanism comes into play which means masses of Adrenaline and Cortisol are released into the blood stream…This results in your feeling threatened and unsafe. Not a good place to be.
The role of Adrenaline and Cortisol is to assist at a time of need, to prepare you or keep you upbeat…’on the ready’ for an attack!
Cortisol and Adrenaline Inhibit Connection
Why you ask? The presence of Adrenaline and Cortisol in the body immediately impedes or blocks any sense of closeness, intimacy or feelings of affection.
Instead or in their place are feelings of fear, anxiety and huge amounts of stress!
What most couples don’t realize is that when someone is under attack the primal instincts that arise are of defence…to protect and keep yourself out of harm’s way. Which means that those chemicals that flooded the body to assist in times of need are now present to ensure that you don’t put yourself at risk again…! That is get close – or put yourself in danger’s way.
…That you don’t put yourself in a position of closeness …with your perceived attacker. And that’s counterproductive to a relationship deepening, let alone developing true intimacy.
In essence theses hormones act to ensure that you don’t feel close or want any form of intimacy from your attacker!
And so begins a vicious circle…trying to get the relationship back on an even keel.
And the more frequently that you or your partner find yourselves under attack from the other person the longer it takes to recuperate… to feel OK about being yourself and to feel safe in the relationship again!
In other words subsequent attempts to develop trust and intimacy are thwarted…
Take Action to End This Cycle
So make a pact together. Do it NOW if you can!
Sit down and agree that from this day forth that there’ll be NO ‘I am right / you are wrong’ games played between the two of you.
Make an agreement to honor one another and then stick to it!
That doesn’t mean that you won’t have differences of opinions… It merely means tapping into new resources. There are many ways to have a healthy discussion or bring up differences of opinion without resorting to emotional or toxic charged behaviors…
The difference will be that the aim of the discussion won’t be to prove that one person is right and the other is wrong…! But rather to listen to one another, to hear one another’s opinion and together reach a satisfactory compromise.
It essentially means removing the competition between you or eliminating any need for what might be called One-upmanship.
And if you think about it, at the end of the day… what would you prefer? Would you prefer to be right…or would you prefer to be happy?
One-upmanship is ALL about being right… No matter what! BEING HAPPY is all about finding acceptable ways to move forward…
Removing the Emotional Charge
This pattern of ‘needing to be right’ in relationships brings a scoring mentality to a relationship. And that’s not healthy. One person in the relationship needing to prove that the other person in the relationship is wrong is not healthy. It’s a powerful intimacy killer.
As I’ve mentioned several times, intimacy is best fostered by removing the barriers between each other… and adopting open and authentic communication with the sole purpose of really opening up the dialogue and really hearing one another.
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