I was having a conversation with a client about how far she and her partner had come, in terms of creating real “intimacy” between them. When she and I began working together last August, they honestly didn’t have a clue about what had them so disconnected and the word intimacy only meant “sex” to them.
Which by the way, they weren’t having.
When the emotional connection gets stretched too thin, there are several ways I encourage couples to begin rebuilding it back. Focusing on the friendship, on warm connection instead of hot sex and beginning to regularly do simple, fun things together again is the place to start. Asking yourself daily “Is this in the best interest of the relationship?” along with “Does this (thing I’m going to say or do, decision I’m making) create more connection between us or cause further disconnection?” is key.
But what I want to unpack here are some interesting, many times unconscious ways that couples quietly “protect” themselves and inadvertently block the “good” from flowing back in when they say they are intentionally trying to have greater intimacy! All the fun activities, friendship building and re-connection attempts, no matter how genuine, will be thwarted if strong walls of protection are still left in place from any pain periods.
If you’re looking to create that strong bond you had in the beginning and hoping to open doors to a real, vulnerable, intimate relationship, look first at what walls need to be let down so that this can actually happen. Protection can become so habitual, that it gets overlooked as a stumbling block on the path to deeper love.
Conscious Walls of Protection
* Refusing to discuss anything that generates intense or vulnerable feelings
* Numbing with alcohol, pot, porn, eating, television
* Staying at work or out at events so you don’t have to connect at home
* Traveling as an avoidance technique (business travel, personal getaways)
* Not opening yourself to have sex or be physically affectionate
* Flirting in front of your partner / jealousy attempts
* Intentionally picking a fight
More Subtle Walls of Protection
* Making a joke about everything
* Over-filling the calendar with busyness and activities
* Criticism, sarcastic remarks, constant teasing, judgements
* Getting sick or not feeling good regularly
* Consistently “forgetting” agreements and plans
* Controlling sex and how the physical affection plays out through lots of rules, likes and
Before you get nervous at this list or jump in shouting “Hey! We love joking about everything and it has nothing to do with protection!”, I want to say that I’m only asking you to look at whether you are using any of these things consciously or unconsciously to keep your heart a bit safer in some way. When is the last time you felt fairly exposed and vulnerable with this person you love? If you can’t answer that, you might scan through the list and see if when you reach that point, you pull back in some way and take one of the above actions.
Traveling for business may be a necessary requirement in your position right now, but raising your hand continually when you really don’t need to be there might be a sign that you aren’t feeling relaxed and connected at home.
Constantly teasing or being sarcastic might have started out as some genuine joking, but when it becomes a regular way of relating, it can sure put a damper on how attracted your sweetheart feels toward you and keep them at a bit of a distance.
Maybe a safer distance?
We’ve all taken some big hits in love & life. After one small argument it can be easy to put a little protection around your heart and forget it’s there as you go about your days.
Maybe you’ve constructed a cement wall 10 feet high from a betrayal that cut you to the quick and are clear that you’re hiding firmly behind it.
The problem is you can’t live the kind of meaningful, happy, relaxed life that you so long for when you keep refusing to risk letting the walls down and engage fully in it. I encourage you to look now and then with a brave heart at where you might be peeking around a corner and try taking a step closer to that person beckoning you.
You’re stronger than you think. And the intimacy that comes from sharing who we truly are with another loving soul?
Big love to you fellow travelers “revolutionizing” your Love!