Strengthening Relational Intimacy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves.”

– Carl Jung

The art of knowing and being DEEPLY known…

… involves understanding another and ourself with acceptance and without judgment.

This is what I mean by relational intimacy, and it’s what we do when we connect with others and form enduring relationships. When we feel intimately known, we experience joy and meaning in our lives.

Knowing yourself and your partner is an art; it means creating nuanced space for the different aspects of ourselves without judgment, but with acceptance.

The artistic crafting of relationships is nuanced and starts with creating a safe space for deep intimacy and closeness to grow and endure over time, because you have compassionately accepted the other without judgment.

When we accept the different parts in ourselves first without judgment, we will accept those in others as well. This will create trust and a sense that we are seen and heard. Feeling seen and heard leads to a sense of safety and security.

Accepting yourself without shame or judgment will lead to not only greater acceptance of your partner, but to a deepening of your relationship, as you authentically relate to each other.

If you are struggling in your relationship, feeling taken for granted, isolated, lonely, judged, misunderstood, and a sense that others experience a different partner than you do, it might leave you feeling disconnected. These experiences will lead to irritability or anger, being guarded or defensive, and feeling unsafe, unseen, or taken for granted, which hurts.

These feelings and experiences have deeper meaning, because it not only means disconnection from your partner, but from yourself. Disconnection from yourself occurs, because it’s sometimes difficult to uncover the underlying feelings that separate you.

Working on caring for yourself will help you feel nurtured and cared for, so you could care for your partner or others in return.

This is the art of doing relational intimacy, helping you to know and understand your needs before you react to your partner, which prevents anger and resentment from building up.

We all face challenges as we seek relational intimacy.

We may encounter challenges such as work stress, or job insecurity, financial pressures, unexpected health issues, marital problems such as infidelity, empty nest, a new baby, and health problems. We tend to become self-focused. Unable to give attention to the important others in our lives, we feel isolated and emotionally “shut down.”

Attempting to “numb out” by watching TV, drinking alcohol, or focusing on your children, friends, or hobbies are all attempts to put up walls when we are disconnected and don’t know what to do. Shutting down feels safest.

Though distancing yourself from your partner feels safer, it will drive you apart.

Disconnection from your partner leads to feeling cranky, irritable, or short-tempered and a sense of isolation and loneliness.

Keeping a relationship healthy and connected is an ongoing process; it requires checking in with your partner frequently.

Relational intimacy is the ability to pay attention to ourselves and others despite stresses without reacting with anger or annoyance.

If you are feeling neglected by your partner because he or she is spending more time with colleagues, friends, or hobbies rather than with you, you might experience feeling threatened, isolated, and lonely from the lack of intimacy or closeness in your relationship.

You can deepen the intimacy by sharing these vulnerable feelings with your partner or others without blaming them.

The challenge of understanding ourselves and relating with vulnerability is a lifetime struggle we all share. But communicating these experiences despite feeling vulnerable without blaming is helpful to the relationship.

Burying your vulnerability will lead to a lack of relational intimacy, and instead you will experience emotional withdrawal or feeling shut down, angry, and irritable.

Respecting and honoring yourself and your relationship even when you are under stress from life’s challenges will help you feel seen, heard, and acknowledged in return.

Relational intimacy starts when we feel connected to ourselves.

The first step toward relational intimacy is becoming more aware of our own experiences and needs. It’s easy to share ourselves with others when we know and accept who we are first. Acceptance of our own imperfections makes it easier to accept the imperfections of others, which leads to deeper intimacy and relational intimacy.

Understanding what it means when you feel lonely, sad, or disappointed and sharing it with a loved one without blame is the art of relational intimacy.

If you are feeling lonely and your partner is unavailable, you could spend the evening with good friends or take a long soak in the bath to help you feel nurtured instead of feeling resentment toward your partner.

If feeling withdrawn from your partner, understanding its significance before reacting will help you open up. You might need physical contact or reassurance from them first before interacting or hearing them.

Expressing these needs is not selfish, and they might not be met immediately. But your partner will know what they are, which will make your interactions more authentic.

Needs such as physical and emotional connection, reassurances that we are loved by our partners when we feel insecure, are not shameful but very natural. Stating these vulnerable feelings despite embarrassment or shame will deepen your connection and relational intimacy.

But we get to know, value, and cherish ourselves through our reflection in others.

Our behavior is reflected in others by their reaction to our behaviors. If we are kind and respectful of a loved one or partner no matter what we are experiencing, they will reflect this behavior back to us. But if we are unaware that we are irritable and act out this behavior, we might get an irritable response in return and a disconnection from them.

We need to be consistent and mindful in holding a safe space for others. When a safe space is not created, then disconnection occurs.

Though holding a safe space could be challenging, awareness when we are unable to do so is very important.

Sharing your feelings even when vulnerable creates a safe space, and your partner will reflect back this sense of safety we have created by responding in kind.

Experiencing ourselves when we interact with others offers a chance for deeper intimacy with ourselves, because we will feel good no matter the outcome.

We create strong relational bonds when we feel safe and secure. If your choice of partners consistently leaves you feeling unsafe and insecure, understanding the deeper, underlying reasons for these choices will help you make healthier choices in the future.

Therapy with relational intimacy in mind…

We will work together to understand the underlying issues. I am an attentive listener and offer respect, kindness, gentleness, and warmth to create a safe space to explore vulnerable needs and feelings without judgment.

We will work together to increase relational intimacy with the exploration and understanding of your specific needs in a relationship or as an individual. I will also help you understand the historical influences of your family-of-origin and current environmental effect on you in the present.

Working together, I will help you identify areas of disconnection in your relationships and your self. We will also build emotional awareness and safety in your relationships by helping you become more aware of your emotional reactions and their effects on others.

My space is warm, relaxing, and safe for you to explore and uncover experiences such as emotional needs and vulnerable feelings. You will be helped with emotional regulation, which means specific tools to help you when you are overwhelmed by emotions.

I will also work with you on such skills as healthy communication, emotional awareness, and anxiety reduction, and the nuances of knowing others and yourself deeply.

Feeling seen, heard, and acknowledged without judgment in therapy will help you to do the same with yourself and with others.

Are you ready for closer, more intimate bonds?

If you are struggling with feelings of dissatisfaction in your work, relationships, and life where you feel emotionally shut down and are aware that you need to make changes but don’t know how, I can help you.

Therapy will help you feel empowered, hopeful, and joyous again. You will feel reconnected to yourself, which will help you to feel reconnected to your partner and other important people in your life. No longer will you feel lonely or isolated.

Call now for your free 30-minute consultation: (845) 516-4779.