1. Emotional Intimacy is the goal, not a hot orgasm.
Often times we forget that there is something called getting to know one another before we hop right into Commitment Land. And when I say, “getting to know one another,” most automatically assume that I mean the things that make a person tick or what are his or her mommy issues. But what I mean by getting to know someone, or in other words creating emotional intimacy, I'm pertaining to knowing your partner’s emotional fabric- aspects of their character that will eventually integrate into your daily life and relational interactions. The fabric of your partner's emotional intimacy lives in their emotional and relational scripts. What does it look like when you feel insecure? What do you do when you are responsible for immature behavior? Do you take responsibility when you are wrong? How do you support people when they’re hurting? When we know our partner answers healthily to questions like these we have the ability to feel safe. Safety, Isaac? Yes! Understanding that your partner is your relational partner, that he or she is willing to be vulnerable and put in the work, means you can rest knowing you both have what it takes to make your relationship work! And when we feel sure we also feel safe. Feeling safe in a relationship means we're feeding off a healthy dose of emotional intimacy. Sadly, most of us jump from understanding his or her favorite color and land right into the sack. As we make this jump, and watch emotional intimacy rest inactive beneath our feet, we're skipping over the sustainable element that make relationships long-lasting. And when we feel isolated, forgotten, scared, hurt, or ignored, we get angry. We blame our sexual partner for not treating us like we deserve, for not knowing us well enough. We then wonder why our relationships keep falling apart or why we keep picking emotional losers. At this stage in the game, we've become professionals at praising the orgasim more than what our hearts really crave: emotional intimacy. Treat yourself well and get to know your partner from the inside out. Get to know their interaction style and emotional capability. Trust me, it’ll save you some serious time and you'll experience higher levels of satisfaction- in and out of the bed.
2. Unconditional Acceptance vs. Criticism.
Criticism is something I know all too well, unfortunately. Walking into a relationship thinking that we can “love him into shape” or that “she will grow out of this,” sets us up for a lifelong battle and imminent resentment. Trust me, you don’t want to resent your partner for not becoming the person they never knew you wanted them to be. You’ll be rather embarrassed, if of course you can see past your mistake. Unconditional acceptance is a matter to question even before you circle the “Y” on that love letter. Love is based on accepting who the person was before you met him or her. Thinking that your love is strong enough to change someone will leave you watching the boat of happy couples sail right in front of your eyes. When you think of that special him or her, ask yourself if you appreciate what you know so far. If the answer is positive, sign up for one more day. Collect all the data you need. If the answer starts to look a little too bleak and you start to hear that pesky voice or criticism, take a step back and put on your work boots; this is where the rubber hits the road.
3. Practice Trusting without the need to run in fear.
We all come into relationships with significant gouges taken out of innocent exterior. In this posture, walking into a new relationship feels like giving your treasure to a stranger on the train, needing the bathroom, and asking them to be there when you get back. We feel the glamour of being heard and then the responding threat of rejection, of being seen and the risk of abandonment, or the sensation of being understood and then the betrayal of needing to earn their attention. As we experience even the slightest threat of denial we speculate, creating in our imaginations worst case scenario, and then run for the hills. Yikes! How, ever, do we make these things called relationships work? I say start small. When you can trust someone with a little secret, a small expression of fear, or a matter that is mildly embarrassing, you’re off to a good start. If they respond to your vulnerability well, your first run at practicing trust has set you up on great footing! As you continue to practice, with bigger fears, deeper wounds, and frightening details observe how they respond. Remember, you deserve respect, to be supported, and to have safety in your relationships. After all, you want to be there for a very long time, right?
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