by Niara Eans, LMFT Associate, LPC Associate, NCC
Time to Read: 5 minutes
This blog post serves as the beginning of our six part series featuring the Cornerstones of a Healthy relationship. You can find the list and links to the blog posts for the rest of the series below.
Movies and tv shows make intimacy look easy. According to them, intimacy is almost like a ritualistic dance. Where the first step to achieving intimacy is locking eyes with someone from across a room and immediately feeling an undeniable attraction. The next step, is having a conversation with that person and, last, waking up the next morning in their bed. While, lust and physical attraction certainly are a part of intimacy, there is much more to the story.
Vulnerability is the act of developing emotional closeness and openness with another person.
Vulnerability is what allows you to experience true intimacy with someone. Imagine that you are the first in your family to move to another state to attend college. You are sitting by yourself in the cafe thinking as you eat your lunch. You are living in a new city where you know no one. You are going to a new school that is unfamiliar to your family. You are having an experience that no one in your immediate family can even truly understand because they've never done it. You are feeling alone and anxious. You don't really know what to expect.
Then, a classmate walks up to you and introduces herself. She sits down with you and starts up a conversation. You tell her that you're here and that you're nervous about it. That moment of vulnerability allows her to open up and share that she is feeling the same way and is looking to make some friends to help ease some of her anxiety about being away from home. You two are able to become fast friends and rely on each other through the difficult times that freshman year in college brings. The time that you two spent together and the moments of vulnerability that you shared created intimacy in your friendship.
This same kind of pattern can also be found when considering your romantic relationships. Vulnerability and Intimacy are needed in order for them to continue to last and grow. Here are a few ways to continue to cultivate intimacy in your relationship with your partner.
1. Minimize moments of disconnection.
There will be times when you feel like you and your partner are not on the same page. Those are opportunities for you two to check in with one another and make a conscious effort to plan time for reconnection. Date nights are perfect for this!
2. Keep the lines of communication open.
Name calling, negative critiques, and character assassinations can be deadly for your relationship. Try to avoid them at all cost. Remember: words can be hurtful and difficult to forget.
3. Ensure that you can maintain trust in your relationship.
Have you been reliable? Do both of you feel secure in the relationship? If not, true intimacy will be impossible. Tune into why the trust has been broken and, together, formulate a plan to mend it.
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Next week's blog: Commitment