Posts Tagged: closer relationships

Intimacy Unwrapped: How to Improve Intimacy in Your Relationships Part I

Good morning to the Bright and Shining People of the world! I’m pleased as punch that you are joining me this morning.

Have any of you struggled with intimacy in your relationships? (Why did the guys just get more interested?)  Maybe you wonder if you lack in emotional or sexual compatibility? Maybe you carry around a lot of pain due to being hurt by someone you trusted.

 True Intimacy is being seen, known and unconditionally loved. It is the strength of self, surrendering to the safety of another, without fear of being abandoned or controlled. 

happy couple millinials

The Problem with Intimacy

We all, at some level, are afraid of intimacy. Intimacy requires a depth of vulnerability that most resist. We feel self-conscious and silly. We feel weak, exposed and needy. What if we are truly seen, but then seen as “less than?” What if we are truly known, but known as “nothing special?” And what if we make ourselves vulnerable and trusting, only to be controlled or abandoned?

You can see the flow, right? If they truly see the real me, I will undoubtedly disappoint them. And if they know the deep things in my life, (my weaknesses or shame or the ugly underside) then they surely will not stay. And if I am vulnerable to the point of being seen and known, then rejection is likely, if not guaranteed, and I will be more lost, more lonely, and more afraid than I was to begin with.

Often, these are not formulated thoughts of which we are conscious. These are buried beliefs informed by past experiences dating back to infanthood. Becoming aware of these buried fears enlighten us to our blind spots and give us more power to overcome them.


What if he/she isn’t Safe for Me?

This is a real pickle, people. Every step toward intimacy requires risk taking. Sometimes you don’t know if the other person is an emotionally safe person to share with, until you actually share. Sometimes you have to put your heart out there in faith- with no guarantee that you will get it back in one piece. Sometimes you just won’t know if the other person is able to, worthy of, or ready for the intimate sharing of your deepest darkest.

Let your inner People Picker weed out safe and unsafe people. Remember this Key Formula: (WORDS + ACTIONS) x TIME = SAFE PERSON. This just means that what a person says and does must match and be consistent, over the course of time, to determine his/her trustworthiness. If the words and the actions don’t match, and behavior is unpredictable over time, this is not a safe person to trust your intimacy with.

Intimacy Builds on Itself

Once you’ve determined that your inner People Picker has trusted a safe person, you can give yourself permission to try a little more intimacy. Here are some steps to increase emotional intimacy in your relationships.

  • Structured Exercises: Small Groups, Support Groups, Bible Study, Marriage Groups, Retreats, Work-out Groups, etc. offer a structured and guided opportunity to help people engage in shared experience, spirituality, and growth together.
  • Marriage Counseling: Facilitated and mediated communication can help improve a couples’ ability to truly hear one another, problem solve and draw closer in a safe environment.
  • Consistent Meet Ups: Whether you’re seeking intimacy with your spouse or your friends, putting something on the calendar with some frequency is a pro-active way to prioritize intimacy in your relationships.
  • Daily Devotionals: Spending quiet time each day with yourself and with God is paramount in keeping yourself centered, focused and open to closeness with others. When you feel safe and confident with yourself, you will be more able to take intimacy risks with others.

Let me know what steps you are taking to increase your intimacy quotient with yourself and with others. Check out my new book if you want to dig a little deeper. It will help you explore your relationship hang-ups and make a plan to get the love and intimacy you want.





How to Feel Closer: Part II

Last week, we talked about feeling far away and cut off from the people you love. We talked about losing out on truly knowing your partner, and he/she truly knowing  you. We talked about how most people fear intimacy and unconsciously build a wall against it because intimacy makes us feel vulnerable and exposed.

Well, today we will explore the three things LOSERS (those who LOSE OUT on truly knowing each other) must do to become LOVERS instead.

Couples who find themselves Losing Out on each other are in the PRIME POSITION for their next INTIMACY BREAKTHROUGH. Instead of thinking of your relationship as irreparably broken, think of it as a PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to GROW into something better than you imagined.

Why? Because I see Intimacy Breakthroughs every day. They happen. And You can Make them happen in your relationships too.

Here are three things that will help you get the INTIMACY that you miss with your partner.

1. Have “THE” Conversation. A lot of times, we neglect having the really important conversations with each other because we are afraid they will turn out badly. We think that bringing up difficult material or painful feelings will push the other person further away. However, if you are thoughtful and skilled with HOW you talk with your partner, you will be surprised at how well THE conversation can go.

Choose a time when neither is upset or tired. Use the ABC method of asking for what you need. Don’t use the words, “You need to,” or “You always/never,” or “You shouldn’t.” Instead, use words like, “I feel,” or “I want,” or “I need.” Remind yourself and your partner of your relationship strengths, his/her positive attributes, and why you loved him/her in the first place. Show empathy and teach your partner how to show empathy toward you. If you try these steps and they don’t go well, then invite a third party to help facilitate the conversation. The best and the brightest people I know ask for help when they need it.

2. Breaking Down Walls: Sometimes years of bitterness have built up because of past unresolved hurts. It is important to approach your partner with a commitment to own your contribution to the past problems. Take responsibility for lacking sensitivity, discouraging words or being overly avoidant/reactive. You may believe that your partner has more blame than you do. You might even be right. However, being right is not the goal- being close is. Make the first step toward closeness by apologizing for your part in the relationship coldness.

I know apologizing is hard to do, especially when you feel like the other person is more to blame. But saying you’re sorry can be the first step in breaking down defenses and warming up to each other again. It’s ok if you are the person to make the first step TOWARD your partner.  Let God help you.

3. Getting back some US time. Before the flames of intimacy heat up, you’ll need to practice alone time together. Making a habit of spending quality time together may not come easy. Pressures and life’s responsibilities can crowd out needed couples time. Do what it takes to carve this time out weekly or every other week. 

When Sweet and Sassy were young, Mr. Dashing and I would put them to bed early on Wednesdays, and have in-house date night. The hit series, LOST came on at 8, and we usually built a fire, poured some wine and toasted to “Alone Time.” It wasn’t a big thing, but it was OUR thing. Now that our kids are older, we try to get away on Saturday mornings while they sleep in. We don’t tell them that we go to their favorite diner for breakfast… without them. Shoot, they are still asleep by the time we get back!

From You Version Bible App. So cool- download- you'll love these pics.

From You Version Bible App. So cool- download- you’ll love these pics.

Whether it’s your spouse or friend or son, chose a relationship to start working on. Carve out a little one on one time where you can reconnect and make one another feel special.

You are important. Your relationships are important, too. You are worth the extra time and effort it takes to strengthen your relationship muscles. Let me know how it goes!

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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