Tag Archives: intimacy

Nobody Really Wants Intimacy

The other day a few colleagues of mine were discussing intimacy on a lunch break.  The one had his own therapy group that was focused on the topic of intimacy and he was expressing his distress in how often people sign up for the groups on topics like “anxiety”, “depression” and “grief” but few wanted to sign up for the intimacy group.

“People don’t want to be intimate anymore”, one of my colleagues said in response to his distress, “We’re living in a separate individualistic culture”.

“Yeah, a lot of people are just focused on their phones and technology now,” said another, “Nobody really wants intimacy”.

Up until this point in the discussion I was merely an observer, like a bird looking in through the window, but I felt an urge to say something to add my own two cents.  “Well, I think the problem is that people don’t like conflict,” I said, “and you need to be able to work through conflict in order to be more intimate”. 

Now, of course, when I say this I don’t mean that we need to have conflict in order to be intimate.  There are plenty of relationships out there that are full of conflict and the intimacy is severely lacking.  However, what I do mean is that by avoiding conflict, we are also avoiding more intimacy.

Contrary to what some may think, intimacy is far more than just sex.  Sex is just a mere expression of physical intimacy.  But there’s also intimacy on an emotional level.

When we’re emotionally intimate with someone, we are then able to share someone our true emotions.  Our sadness.  Our fears.  Our worries.  And even our anger.

By becoming emotionally intimate, we allow ourselves to slowly and gradually be more and more seen by another person. It creates more love and deepens the relationship.  The other person is better able to know us for who we truly are and we are then better able to know the other person.

This process isn’t easy. In fact, it’s terrifying because it requires us to be incredibly vulnerable.  To be intimate requires us to take down our defenses and expose ourselves with another person with the hope that this other person is going to react with acceptance and love.

And for most of us we haven’t had that reflected to us in our childhood.  We’re used to being judged and shamed.  We’re used to feeling guilty.  We’re used to not being accepted.

We’re not used to other people giving us a safe and loving space for us to express our emotions and to simply say something like, “I know that’s tough.  I’m here for you and I love you no matter what”.

I think this is where dealing with conflict makes things tough.  Because while we want to be accepted and loved by another person, conflict can feel like the exact opposite of that.

Depending on how we were raised, conflict can feel very rejecting.  We may have come to believe that conflict means separation or that fighting leads to the ending of the relationship.

However, the reality is that — and some people have grown up knowing this already — is that conflict is simply a discussion of differences and that it’s naturally a part of being in a relationship.

The reality is that through conflict, if we can communicate in a way where both people take responsibility for themselves and both are able to share their own genuine internal experience, we can actually become much more intimate.

Through conflict we have the opportunity to see another persons’s deep inner wounds, so we can better understand what makes them who they are.  We then have the opportunity to give them assurance that all is okay and that they are loved and accepted no matter what regardless.

ConflictWounds

Click to Tweet: Through conflict we can see a persons’s deep inner wounds, which can allow love to deepen. @jenilyn8705 

So how can we better deal with conflict so that we can become more intimate?  Here’s a few tips:

#1 – Be aware of your own relationship to conflict

Are you one who avoids conflict at all cost?  Do you tend to believe that a happy relationship means no arguing?  Do you have difficulty holding the idea that a debate can be healthy and free of anger and resentment?

#2 – Track yourself

When a discussion starts to turn a bit sour, be sure to check in with yourself.  How are you feeling?  Are you angry or anxious?  Are you tense?

When we’re triggered and become angry, anxious, tense, or upset, this is when we are unable to think clearly.  We literally can’t process information the way we can otherwise because our nervous system is outside of our normal window of tolerance.  So it’s important to stop, breath and recognize that you’re triggered.

#3 – Recognize where the other person is and focus on the discussion

Does the other person appear tense and angry?  Are they saying things like “you always” or “you never”?  If so, then it’s likely that they’re triggered.

Remember how I said we can’t process information clearly when we’re outside our window of tolerance?  Well, when you can’t then the other person can’t either.  So its important to recognize that and know when to walk away and cool off. 

When both are cooled off, then a real discussion can happen.

#4 – Be mindful about language

If you want to be loved and respected then know that the other person deserves to be loved and respected as well.  So be mindful about your language by avoiding saying things like “childish” or “selfish”.  Avoid saying things that may imply trying to place all the blame on the other person because, realistically, it takes two to tango anyway.

So, do I really think people don’t want intimacy?  No, not at all.  I think deep down in our core we really truly do want intimacy it’s just that our own wounds and fear get in the way.

How do some of your wounds block you from intimacy?  What’s your relationship with conflict?  Share in the comments below!

Are You Creating Drama or Conscious Drama?

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend about some conflicts with another friend of ours. It was one of those awkward situations where one person knows that she needs to change something for her own well-being and self-care but in order to do that she had to let someone else down.

Generally the situation went by smoothly, though there was some messy underlying emotions lingering around – guilt, disappointment, fear, anxiety, frustration, and so on.

As we were talking I made the comment “Well, it’s not really any different than during my undergrad – there’s still drama – it’s inevitable”. I’m not sure whether I said it or she said it, but one of us said “The only difference here is that this is like conscious drama”.

What an interesting concept. This made me wonder: Realistically, how can anyone ever live without experiencing “drama”? It’s such a part of human existence! There’s always going to be some messy emotions and conflicts lingering around.

So is there anything wrong with drama?  Certainly not, because these dramatic experiences encourages us to grow and create deeper, more meaningful, and intimate relationships. Through the conflict and challenges, we become better.

Even though it IS inevitable, there are ways that we can make the situations less “dramatic”. The problem is that most of the us experience in every day life are experiencing UNconscious drama. Meaning, it is drama caused by repressed emotions and defense mechanisms that are completely rooted in fear. This only makes everything more intense and, well, “dramatic”.

Conscious drama, on the other hand, creates intimacy.  It accepts the conflicts that have risen, rather than wishing they didn’t exist.  Conscious drama respects all people involved, is patient, and understands the concept of boundaries.

By allowing ourselves to have conscious drama, we allow ourselves to have deeper and meaningful relationships.  It’s basis, in everything, is love.

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[Tweet “The truth is, it is drama that allows us to have deeper and more meaningful relationships. “]

So how does conscious drama differ from drama? Here are some examples to better understand what the difference looks like in context:

Drama: Sally puts off telling George how she really feels for weeks, months, or years out of fear of conflict or hurting him.

Conscious drama: Sally tells George soon after she notices her feeling and shares it with George directly.

Drama: John ignores his own feelings and tries to avoid feeling at all costs.

Conscious drama: John tries to listen to his own feelings so he can be true to himself.

Drama: Sarah “explodes” all of her irritations about Jodie to her in one sitting. This makes Jodie feel overwhelmed and attacked, so Jodie begins to condemn Sarah as well.

Conscious drama: Sarah slowly and gradually shares one irritation at a time to Jodie and has thought about what to say beforehand. This gives her time to absorb each thing slowly. Jodie then has time to respond or Sarah tells Jodie to think about it and they can then discuss it later. The two are able to reach a mutual understanding and agreement.

Drama: Jack avoids telling Jessica that he wants some time alone and instead acts passive aggressively in order to get back at Jessica.

Conscious drama: Jack tells Jessica that he wants some alone time, so they discuss it.

Drama: Danny tries to guilt trip Amanda in order to get her to the concert even though she said she was tired.

Conscious drama: Danny accepts and respects Amanda’s decision not to go to the concert.

Drama: Though Katie knows she hurt Kelly, Katie isn’t willing to admit her mistake or apologize for hurting her.

Conscious drama: Katie admits her mistake and apologizes – whether it makes sense or not.

Drama: Jenna tells Melissa that it’s ridiculous for her to still be crying about her ex boyfriend and tells her that she just “needs to get over it”.

Conscious drama: Jessica understands and accepts that this breakup has been hard for Melissa and tells her to take all the time she needs to heal.

Drama: Melissa tells Jenna how terrible her ex boyfriend was and spends her entire time on the phone bashing him and proclaiming that he messed up and is missing a lot for not being with her.

Conscious drama: Melissa tells Jenna how much her hurts for her to be single again and that she wishes relationships weren’t so hard. Melissa allows herself to cry.

Drama: Carrie tells several people about her conflict with her roommate Beth with this drive to convince others that she was right and Beth was wrong in the conflict.

Conscious drama: Carrie talks to several people for support her her conflict with Beth, but she doesn’t say anything to imply that Beth was wrong or she was right. Instead, she asks to advice on how to improve the situation.

Drama: Steve knows that Mandy needs to get some professional help in an area of her life and then tries to force her to seek out the professional help. Mandy feels controlled, so she resists and they fight.

Conscious drama: Steve knows that Mandy needs some professional help with an issue, so he comments that it would be good for her but Mandy doesn’t listen and continues to complain about it. Steve continues to support her as needed, but creates distance and sets boundaries for himself in order to take care of himself so he doesn’t get too wrapped up in Mandy’s problems.

Start creating less “drama” and more “conscious drama” TODAY!

Think of a “drama” situation that you’ve been through. How do you normally react to drama? What are some of your tendencies?

Now identify one past “drama” situation or some potential drama that you may have. How could you go about it to create conscious drama instead of drama? What would you say? What would you do afterward?