There’s nothing I hate more than intimacy.
Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true.
There’s nothing that scares me more than intimacy.
Don’t get me wrong. I can tell you every detail about everything I’ve ever done without breaking a sweat. And for a long time, I assumed that I meant I was open, available, and willing to be loved.
Well, I was wrong. <cue obnoxious buzzer sound>
So it came as a surprise that the more my partner would love me, the more I would retreat. “How could this be?” I wondered. “Why is it that I’m finally getting what I want in a relationship and yet I’ve never been more freaked out?”
Sometimes getting what you want means giving up what you don’t want. Sounds simple enough in theory, but in reality, it sucks. After all, embracing intimacy means more than sex, a shared history, or a mutual dislike of olives. For me, it meant giving up my protective walls that had kept me safe for so long.
So how did I navigate this painful transition in order to truly be open to love?
I followed these 5 Tips:
1. Accept the assignment.
People show up in our life for a reason. Maybe they teach us how to love, maybe they teach us how to set boundaries, or maybe they simply teach us how to build Ikea furniture. Whatever the reason may be, it’s your job to accept the assignment that’s coming your way. Ask yourself, “What is this person teaching me about myself that I wouldn’t have learned without them?” When you view others as spiritual assignments for growth rather than as answers to your problems, you’re able to let go of the idea that they will “complete you.” This fosters intimacy and manages expectations.
2. See the present rather than the potential.
Intimacy involves both people being present to what’s actually happening, not what they’d like to happen. It involves accepting that you’re dating a human with flaws and not a house that’s a “fixer upper.” Sure, it’s nice to pretend that he doesn’t have a weird obsession with his cat or that his unemployment for the last 5 years is “temporary,” but at the end of the day, you need to be able to ask yourself if you love this person or you love the person you want them to be. Intimacy requires that both people live in reality (and like it).
3. Learn to love alone time.
When I was a codependent mess, being alone felt like failure. I preferred the constant validation of someone else’s company, even if I didn’t enjoy his company. But spending more time alone and developing hobbies helped me to feel complete without another person. Instead of defining intimacy like a kid watching a Disney movie, define it as a self-sufficient adult. True intimacy is “needing” someone because you love them, rather than loving them because you need them. Feeling safe, secure, and sane on your own will make it easier to give and receive love.
4. Own. Your. Shit.
Intimacy with another requires you to get intimate with yourself first. That means, learning to honor your strengths and accept your flaws. Do the work, quit running away, and stop blaming others. Intimacy requires courage. And courage is a decision, not a feeling. Cleaning up your side of the street paves the way to true honesty and intimacy with yourself and others.
5. Give to give (not to get).
True intimacy is fostered by those who give out of compassion, empathy, and mutual respect. In an unhealthy relationship, giving is used as a tool to get something in return. Avoid the quid pro quo mentality by giving from a place of presence and abundance, (not just so he’ll take out the trash). This simple shift not only helps you to identify what you want in a partnership, but the gifts you have to offer.
Achieving intimacy isn’t solely about attracting the right partner, it’s about creating the space for one in your life. To make anything work, you have to start with you.
Know yourself, trust yourself, and love yourself.
And from that place of wholeness, you’re better prepared to cultivate true intimacy.
What helps you connect to yourself and others?
Share your tips with the Community in the Comments section below!