Intimacy at First Sight?
No doubt, you've heard it said that love can happen in an instant. Love at first sight. Wow!
by Judith Sherven, PhD and James Sniechowski, PhD
No doubt, you've heard it said that love can happen in an instant. You see a stranger across a crowded room and, whammo, your heart flutters, temperature rises, your stomach is suddenly popping and fizzing, and what feels like destiny is taking you for a ride. How awesomely sweet.
You hadn't planned for it, hadn't even expected it, but there it is. Love at first sight. Wow!
The truth is that some relationships which begin in that swept-away surge last a lifetime. And in some of those, two people remain enchanted with each other, lovers and friends to the end. But it's also true that many, if not most, of those hot, hot, hot beginnings fade, often quickly, into disappointment, leaving behind a trail of mistrust and bitterness.
What is it that keeps a relationship alive over the long term?
Historically, it was not expected that the purpose of a relationship and especially a marriage was the emotional and spiritual closeness of two people, as it is today. Rather, marriage was more like a business contract.
She had her duties. He had his. If they performed well their marriage was considered a success. If they loved, let alone liked each other, well that was a wonderful side benefit.
But times have changed. Now, new assumptions have become part of how our culture defines what romantic love is supposed to provide. We call is a new intimacy and it's established on the basis that:
Love is the indispensable foundation of a good relationship.
Two people voluntarily choose each other without any interference from their family, friends, or community.
They know they are being loved for who they really are, so they can drop their masks and not have to play games.
They recognize and respect each other for their values and ambitions, giving and receiving compassion for their fears and hesitations.
And they know their love gives a spiritual purpose and meaning to their life, as they consciously create their relationship together.
This vision of romantic love is very different from what has come before, requiring a different vision of what is needed to succeed. So understanding the role of emotional intimacy--what is really a new intimacy--has now become essential.
Intimacy requires that you let yourself be known. But
that's not all. You
must also want to know your partner. Otherwise the circle is not complete. There must be two of you, each open and paying attention to yourselves and each other. You might think this means that trust has to come first. But that's exactly backwards.
Trust in a relationship means a sense of emotional safety. That cannot come to be without your being willing to be present and emotionally available.
Does that involve risk? Of course. But if you want love to take you into its depth, you must face into the risk of sometimes being exposed. And, as your lover continues to love you, not in spite of but including those parts of you that you might not be sure are lovable, then trust emerges--because it can.
There is no such thing as intimacy at first sight. Becoming truly intimate involves emotional generosity and grows over time. The more you show yourself the more you make yourself available to be loved.
In other words, you must bring yourself to the relationship.
Like Cinderella, many women wait to be discovered and spend years alone and lonely--even if they are in a marriage--wondering when things are supposed to "get good." And in all fairness, much of what is circulated as romantic truth encourages the hope of being rescued by love.
So why wouldn't you wait to be spotted by that perfect person whose love will make everything right? Unfortunately, that approach means that you have to remain passive.
Aroused by simple curiosity, real intimacy is active, prompting you to extend yourself beyond what you already know, urging you to uncover more about yourself and your lover. If not, if your relationship has become worn and predictable, intimacy has been reduced to physical proximity.
Have you ever known a couple who has lost interest in each other? They live under the same roof, but they're even less close than roommates.
Keep romance alive and exciting by staying open to new
unfolding intimacy. Real intimacy.
Remember that intimacy is lively and adventuresome, always open to new possibilities. It is a creative, imaginative experience. Not an escape from life but a plunge into it.
Not a game of hide and seek. But rather a lifelong adventure into being known for who you really are and being loved for exactly that.
Best-selling authors and husband and wife of 18 years, Judith & Jim's most recent books are Be Loved for Who You Really Are and The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams. Claim your complimentary audio download of "The Promise of Conflict" at: http://www.themagicofdifferences.com/conflict