Emotional Intimacy Part 2

BUILDING SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIPS




EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 1 – WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTIMACY?

EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 2 – ESSENTIAL LEARNINGS FOR CREATING EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 3 –  BLOCKS TO EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 4 – COMMUNICATION SKILLS & TIPS TO CREATE EMOTIONAL INTIMACY


EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 2 – ESSENTIAL LEARNINGS FOR CREATING EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

Whilst an emotionally intimate relationship is highly desirable, developing one may be fraught with difficulties.  Risks must be taken and fears must be overcome to achieve this type of intimate relationship.  Risks include the chance of being rejected, if I tell somebody who I really am, they might criticise or reject the real me.  We also might be ridiculed or find out that we are with the wrong person. We might also have a desire for closeness but keep pushing people away, because we become fearful when we start to experience true intimacy.

 MEETING EACH OTHERS NEEDS

 The responsibility of meeting somebody else’s emotional needs can be overwhelming and create fear if we believe we can never satisfy those needs.  One belief that perpetuates this myth is that the more we give, the more the other person will want, the more needs they will then have, and the less chance we will have of fulfilling them.   This belief often originates in childhood where parents with inadequate boundaries and an inability to meet their child’s emotional needs, nevertheless, expect their own children to meet their emotional needs.  In this situation a child feels overwhelmed as the parent is not taking responsibility for their own needs, and as the child can never meet an adults needs, feels overwhelmed and engulfed.   When a partner comes along in their adult years and asks for their reasonable and genuine needs to be met, fears of returning to the overwhelmed state may emerge.

As long as both partners also take responsibility for meeting their own needs and have safe boundaries for giving however, this belief is wholly incorrect.  Emotional needs once filled actually reduce, for example if we give our partners as much quality time together as possible, they start being more comfortable with space rather than demanding more time.  If we keep pulling back from giving our partner quality time however, their needs go into overdrive, much like when we go on a diet and suddenly chocolate cake plays on our mind all day!  Fulfilling needs means we become less needy and overwhelm and pressure in a relationship will cease.  We might of course have a need to be needed, or an unconscious desire to keep our partner wanting of us, and so we might withhold from our partner on purpose, this path though is ultimately destructive and leads only to upset and pain in a relationship.

EMOTONAL INTIMACY AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

True emotional intimacy will be difficult if not impossible to build if either or both partners do not have a sense of self-awareness, independence and personal responsibility.  This requires an understanding or willingness to understand and express our own emotions and feelings, and to take responsibility for our reactions to and actions upon others. 

Self-awareness requires that we look at our own motivations, the thoughts and experiences that drive us and that inform our words and actions.  With growing self-awareness we begin to understand why we act upon or react to situations in certain ways, and most importantly we recognise what our button presses are.  With this information we can begin to take personal responsibility for our emotional state of mind and how we feel.  On a cognitive level we recognise that we are not simply reacting to what is happening in front of us.  Our reactions are actually based on what we think about a situation, and what we think can be complicated by things such as past events, mind-reading, assumptions or generalisations.  Clearing this up requires that we have clear communication with ourselves (self-awareness) and that we can communicate well with our partners.  On a physical level we begin to recognise that we are not slaves to our emotions and feelings, we create them and so can change them or learn to express them in healthier ways. 

Self-awareness also assists us in taking personal responsibility for our actions.  We understand that our words and actions have an impact on others and that this can be positive or negative.  With empathy and concern we listen when somebody tells us they have been hurt by something we said or did, and we take time to explain any misunderstandings and if necessary offer a sincere apology.

Remember, for a healthy exchange both parties need to be taking responsibility for their reactions to others and actions upon others.  If one person is taking responsibility for how their actions impact their partner, but their partner is not taking responsibility for understanding and ensuring healthy expression of their own reactions, exchanges can become draining for the party taking full responsibility for their actions.  Similarly, if one person is taking responsibility for how they react to their partner but the partner is not taking full responsibility for their own behaviour serious frustrations can mount.  Misunderstandings in this area can lead to abusive situations.  I have often heard one partner trying to express how hurt they been by their partners actions, only for the partner to fail to take responsibility for their behaviour and continue acting in hurtful ways whilst reminding their partner that they are responsible for their own feelings!  Telling somebody how you feel IS taking responsibility for your feelings, responsibility then falls to the other party to take your concerns on board and with empathic concern explain their position.  If somebody hurts you and you cover up your feelings or pretend they do not exist you are taking responsibility for nothing, you are merely being a victim to a bully.

NEW RELATIONSHIPS AND EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

In the heady early days of a new relationship we might experience an intensity of connection that feels like emotional intimacy.  Our new partner sees the best in us and we feel accepted loved and cared for just as we are.  We seek out our similarities and show interest in finding out about each other’s interests, opinions and views on the world.  Often we ignore our differences, skipping over these and looking for the next similarity so as to retain this amazing relationship.  We might imagine that our new partner thinks and feels as we do, and feeling loved we begin to trust that this is the person we will finally be able to share our thoughts, dreams and vulnerabilities with, as our partner will surely be agreeable, supportive and unconditionally accepting right?  This is of course an illusion, a state of mind where we are enmeshed with each other, trying to achieve the perceived idyllic state of becoming one.  This is the very opposite of emotional intimacy.

Emotional intimacy begins when the initial ‘love rush’ ends.  We realise that we are both independent beings with rights to our own opinions, thoughts and feelings.  We recognise that our partner will not always agree with us, and might have a very different model of the world in some areas.  If we have too many differences, particularly in regard to our important values and goals in life this may lead to the end of the relationship.  If we have enough similarities in important areas though, we can begin building emotional intimacy.  With a sense of mutuality and care we begin to find out who our partner truly is, we are no longer putting on an act to show our best side and we begin to reveal our differences of opinion, our vulnerabilities and oddest ideas about the oddest things.  As we do this, we check if our partner is supportive of us, showing us care, respect and consideration, and if they are we begin to build trust.  If the environment remains a safe one, and we find our partner is respectful, tolerant and accepting and takes us seriously, we begin to fall deeply into emotional intimacy.  If this safety is never reached there is no true relationship.  If this safety is broken by criticism that is not constructive, judgement or abuse, or our partner shows a lack of empathy towards us or even hurts us without remorse, emotional intimacy is lost and if it cannot be rebuilt, the relationship begins its end.



EMOTIONAL INTIMACY PART 3 –  BLOCKS TO EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

All rights reserved - © SASHA PHILLIPS - 2012


Comments