Tag Archives: vulnerable

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!

How to Know When to Say I Love You

For several weeks — possibly even over a month — I had been debating about doing the one thing that take any new relationship to the next level: When to say I love you.

I can’t remember exactly when the thought first crossed my mind to say those words to my current boyfriend.  However, I noticed that whenever I saw him after being apart for several days or after he did something incredibly sweet or supportive, the words would almost pour out of me.  I feared that one day I would accidentally say it — surprising both myself and him.

The whole process of saying “I love you” was a bit different in this relationship in that in my past relationships normally the guy dropped the L-bomb shortly after I began thinking about saying it.  I had never found myself caught up in this inner debate with myself as to when to say I love you.  In the past, the guys were always the bold and vulnerable ones… I just followed their lead.

This time though, I found myself waiting and waiting and waiting… but he would just never say it.  As a result,  I found myself doing the silly thing that most young people do nowadays when they are bounded by fear at the thought of saying those three words: I went to google for advice.

I read article after article with all kinds of theories and ideas on the topic.  Some people proclaiming how women should never be the first to say it because it can sound needy, while others saying that men shouldn’t be the first to say it either because it might freak the woman out.  Others were giving statistics on how most guys say it at 3 months and how women often wait until the 4 or 5 month mark.

After a searching google for advice for days and (admittedly) weeks, I found myself a bit overwhelmed and all this online advice to be, well, just flat out silly.

You see, all these articles and google searching was only doing one thing for me: It was keeping me in a state of fear.  All this did was waste my time and put more energy into my own fear of being vulnerable.  This fear of him not reciprocating was only keeping my heart closed and preventing me from really speaking my truth and allowing myself and the relationship to move forward.

This is what many of us do when it comes to doing anything that requires some vulnerability in our relationships.  Whether it be saying “I love you”, asking whether to move in together, or proposing marriage.  There is often that period where we get caught up in fear.  We start second guessing and asking ourselves things like “How will the other person react?”, “Will they reciprocate?”, “Will this help the relationship move forward or will it move it backwards?”

This fear disconnects us from the truth that is within our heart.  It makes us uncertain as to how and when we should proceed.  It can make us hesitant as to when and how it would be a good time to say what we want to say.

So what should we do when we find ourselves caught up in fear of being vulnerable?  How can we clear out the fear so that we can truly know with confidence that it is the right time to say “I love you”?

Be still.

For starters, its important to take some time to be still and simply breathe.  When we get all caught up in fear of being vulnerable the mind can begin to overact.  When the mind is on overdrive, it can be hard to really tap into what we feel in our heart.

So take some time for a day or several days to meditate for 15 minutes.  Focus on the breath and allow yourself to become calm over hearing the nature sounds or meditative music.  If sitting still doesn’t quite work for you, then it can also be beneficial to go for a walk or do some kind of exercise.  Getting into your body by doing some kind of movement can help calm the mind down so you can really know when your heart and intuition is guiding you to do.

Know that it’s not the end of the world if it is not reciprocated.

Realistically, who doesn’t like to hear that someone loves them?  Chances are that whether it is reciprocated or not, your partner is still going to feel flattered.  And yes, if the other person doesn’t reciprocate it is going to suck for a while (trust me, I know), but it isn’t the end of the world.

Yes it hurts and it will hurt for a while, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t survive it.  You’ll get through it.  It may not always create the most comfortable situation, but by expressing your true feelings it does open the door for more opportunity and personal growth to happen — both for yourself and the other person.

Follow your heart.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, only one thing truly matters: The truth of your heart that wishes to be expressed.  If you can really truly feel it in your heart that you love the person, then say it.  Life is too short to live bounded by fear.  People deserve to know that they are loved, appreciated, respected, and supported — whether they are really truly open and receptive to hear it and accept it or not.

So how can we really know when it’s the time to say “I love you” when we are centered and feel that it is true in our heart — not when we know 10 of our partner’s hobbies or immediately once you hit the 6 month mark.  Ditch the rules, ditch the statistics, ditch the fear… just take a moment to stop and get centered and look within your heart.  If the calling is there, then follow it.

SayILoveYou

Take action now!

Stop what you are doing right now and allow yourself to get centered.  Sit up straight in your seat, focus on your breath, and focus on how you feel in your body.  Allow yourself to relax and be calm.

Once you feel calm and centered, ask yourself the question that you have been contemplating lately.  It may be whether to tell your partner “I love you”, whether to ask them to move in together, whether you want to propose, or whatever.

When you ask yourself the question, focus on your heart center.  Do you feel expanded and open open when you say it?  Does it feel like there is a sense of release when you think about doing it?  Then go ahead and do it! 🙂