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Why Intimacy Needs Space - Internally

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

There is a major intimacy problem here.

In your relationship, in your parents', in our American culture.

We need more pauses. Yes, need. Without it, we're not experiencing the fullness of intimacy. We're just seeing reflections and projections of ourselves, perpetually dancing in the light of our own self-image. Let me explain.

When I work on the basics of communication with couples, the very first skill is listening. Not being quiet while they talk and you formulate a response in your head...but truly pausing all mental activity and focusing, meditating on what your partner is saying. For a second, you are fully in their world, their solar system.

And this leads to the second skill: curiosity. When you're in a different universe (as your partner's is), you wouldn't dare assume that you know what the laws are. You wouldn't assume that oxygen and plants and gravity all work the same. To assume this would be a projection - and most times, a completely false representation of what is actually happening. When we can step into our partner's world with curiosity, we don't need weapons like judgment or defensiveness or shutting down. Our partner's world may feel hostile to us, but it is not against us. It is simply the nature of entering a system you aren't accustomed to.

Curiosity means we ask questions. We try to learn more about them. We observe. We look. We notice. We ask what it means.

To do either of those very necessary and basic components of relational communication, there needs to be an internal quietness that takes place. Your mind and all of its presumptions need to come to a halt. A jolting halt, mind you, but a critical one nonetheless. In space of the paused activity, all attention is then directed to your partner.

And your human nature will fight that. I often hear couples saying "I didn't want to do that because it didn't feel natural." Of course it didn't! Our nature is inherently selfish, self-centered, self-focused, egotistical. We are the main characters of our own screen play, the sun of our own universe. It's been that way since birth. As babies, you don't comprehend that the milk isn't arriving because mom has had a stressful day and she needs a shower really quickly before feeding you. No, all we understand is that my needs aren't being met. And because we had no concept of time, "my needs aren't being met now" translated to "my needs aren't being met, period."

But our design, our calling, is to intelligently evolve. On a higher level of our existence, we would - and should, and will - learn to soothe our inner child by addressing their fear: "don't worry, luv. She'll be back. He'll be back. You won't die right now. You can listen to them, and they will tend to you. And even if they don't, I always will." To draw you a step further, deeper, your Creator always will.

To be in intimacy with your partner, you need an anchor that isn't necessarily them. Something internal (now, you all know me. I believe in the Spirit, and I believe in God's Spirit) that assures you of an eternal, unconditional safety - regardless of what humanity may say or do. If you don't believe in the Christian faith, please follow along. Most of us agree on the existence of Spirit, a larger force outside of the individual that unites, protects, cares for, nurtures, fights for us.

How would it change your communication as a couple if you didn't rely on your partner to be your all-in-all, your perfect specimen, your infallible savior. And please, can we be honest? We really do see our partners this way sometimes. We'll say we don't; we'll say that we know they aren't perfect.... but we haven't actually done the work to show that we believe this to be true. Because when they fail us, or don't call back right away, or say something stupid, or have an issue with us...our worlds crumble.

Here's the Short Version

You need to create enough internal space so that you can listen to your partner and ask about their perspective with curiosity. How do we create that space? By examining where our anchor lies. If your anchor is within your partner - no matter how amaaazzzinnngg they are - you are setting yourself up for an identity failure. Learn to be still and allow for someone else's reality to simultaneously be present with your own.

And hey - if you are dating and you realize you don't trust, respect, or want to care for your partner's reality (or that they don't want to do that for you)? Good. Honesty with ourselves is good. Now stop forcing a square peg into a round hole.


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