Creates Emotional Intimacy
by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Think back to a time when you felt
really close and connected with someone - a time when you felt
emotionally intimate with this person. Think about a time when you
felt light and playful with someone, or a time when laughter flowed
easily, or a time when you felt you could tell your deepest secret
and it would be accepted.
We all yearn for that deep
connection with someone, yet few people seem to be able to maintain
emotional intimacy for very long. We often have it at the very
beginning of relationships, before the conflicts start. How can we
maintain that wonderful intimacy in a long-term relationship?
The deep and wonderful feeling of
intimacy flourishes in an atmosphere of safety. We open up when we
feel safe. We take risks when we feel safe. The challenge is - how
do we create this safety?
Most of the time people feel safe
when they are with someone who is very accepting, caring, and
compassionate. The problem is that no one is completely reliable
when it comes to these qualities. Most people have bad days when
they may be irritable or grumpy. What happens to the safety when the
other person’s acceptance and caring goes away?
Our sense of safety needs to come
from within as well as without. We need to become the person,
especially with ourselves, who is consistently accepting, caring and
compassionate. We need to become strong enough within to not take
another’s bad day personally. We need to become centered enough
within to stand up for ourselves when another gets angry or blaming.
We need to become powerful enough within to stay open-hearted in the
face of fear and conflict.
Creating a safe enough environment
for intimacy to flourish means that each person needs to take 100%
responsibility for creating safety within themselves as well as
safety within the relationship. We do this by practicing acceptance
and compassion for ourselves, which will then naturally extend to
However, the moment we are
triggered into fear - fear of rejection, of domination, of
abandonment, of losing ourselves or losing the other - we often do
anything but behave in a way that creates inner and relationship
safety. We abandon ourselves and become reactive - getting angry,
complying, withdrawing, resisting, blaming, defending, explaining,
attacking, and so on. None of these behaviors create inner safety,
nor do they contribute to relationship safety.
How do we learn to stay connected,
open-hearted and non-reactive in the face of fear and conflict? The
key is to practice staying connected with a source of spiritual
guidance (whatever that is for you) during peaceful times, so that
when the fear and conflicts arise, you have that source available to
you. None of us can stay open by ourselves. David Hawkins, M.D.,
Ph.D., in his book entitled simply “I”, states that “The
strength of the ego is such that it can be overcome only by
spiritual power.” When our ego - our wounded self - is activated
by fear and conflict, we must be able to turn to a source of
spiritual power for the strength to not react with our learned
The more we practice staying
connected with our spiritual guidance, the more we create inner and
relationship safety. The safer we feel within ourselves and with our
partner, the freer we feel to share our joy and pain with each
other, which is what leads to connection and intimacy. Meditation
and prayer are powerful ways of practicing our spiritual connection,
as is the six step Inner Bonding process that I teach.(see our free
course at www.innerbonding.com). Without a daily practice of
strengthening your spiritual connection, you may find it very
difficult to maintain intimacy in the face of the many conflicts
that occur in committed relationships.