Friday, July 3, 2009


Here I'm talking about moving beyond physical affection/connection/intimacy to emotional intimacy, being able to open up with another person and create a deep connection. I'm talking about relationships with a big R.

Intimacy implies vulnerability--which means that safety and security need to be present in order for us to be intimate. We crave this kind of connection but because of how vulnerable it makes us, most of us are also scared of it.

As I have said or implied in many previous posts, our current society takes this desire for intimacy, relationship, connection and uses it to try to sell us stuff we don't need. Creating real intimacy is a difficult but rewarding path. It means taking risks and getting close to people. It means getting hurt, again and again, and still reaching out and trying to get close.

Somewhere I read the story of the two porcupines trying to keep warm. They would move closer together, only to stick each other with their quills. Then they would move apart but as things got colder they would move together again only to get stuck again.

It's truly a dance. It's easy to drug ourselves with TV, shopping, the internet, and often real drugs (including alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco) rather than try and get close and get hurt.

If you are involved with someone (or someones), even just as close friends, try and get closer. What gets in the way?

If you are not involved with anyone, try reaching out (again).

I often say that the goal of simple living is to have less stuff and more connections, but the truth is: it isn't easy.

Peter Fox, "How to build intimacy"--A family therapist's take on intimacy and relationships; his site has lots of other useful information
Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Intimacy--A guide to relationships for women (but hopefully usable by anyone)
Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Embracing the Beloved--Relationship as a spiritual path; a primarily Buddhist perspective but drawing on a number of traditions; for couples ready to truly deepen their relationship and individuals ready to add a deeper component to all their relationships
Linda Marks, Healing the War between the Genders--While it focuses on male-female relationships, it contains much that's useful in any relationship; has a number of exercises on opening to intimacy and developing intimacy
Virginia Satir, Making Contact--A little book about how to be emotionally honest and connect with people

Quote of the Day: "Psychological intimacy is about attachment, connection, being safe to express tenderness and vulnerability with family, close friends as well as in sexual relationships. ... It grows with trust, courage, self-disclosure and feedback and withers without them." - Peter Fox


CrackerLilo said...

The fact that I have close relationships--not just my wife, but my friends and my brother--is the very proudest achievement of my life. It sounds Hallmark-ish and won't fit on a resume, but there it is. My father died when I was young, and I spent two years of my childhood living in a tiny camper on a campground, forbidden to tell anyone at school where I lived or have friends over. The friends I made at the campground, of course, went away quickly. (This gets back to what poverty and a lack of adequate permanent shelter can do to a person.) For that and other reasons, I had awful abandonment issues and a habit of pushing others away that I needed to really work on. Poor L'Ailee was patient with me and had some issues of her own, and we worked them out together. We still work things out together.

No, it's not easy. It's not easy at all. But it's extremely worthwhile, and like anything else worthwhile, requires some hard work and patience. Sometimes I see peoples' faces get all lemony when I say good love takes hard work, and I think that if they approached love the way they did their jobs or clubbing or NCAA brackets, they'd be all right. Sometimes I need to remind myself to get back to work, too.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you for sharing so frankly. What an inspiring story. And it seems like you and L'Ailee have really good relationship. I'm glad you have each other.

And you're right, it takes work. Everyday. I struggle with it too, as my own stuff gets in the way.

'Good love takes hard work.' I'll remember that. Thank you for sharing that as well.