Understanding Intimacy

We all long for true intimacy. Many people seek to fill that void by seeking sexual relationships, whether real or fantasized, that promise to provide the relief, acceptance, and fulfillment for which they long.

Sexual Conflicts Between Partners

Because we are evolving beings, our need or lack of need for sexual expression will flux and change. It may sometimes feel impossible for two people to remain harmonious in a mutual level of desire for any prolonged length of time. There is tremendous understanding available if we are able to listen deeply whenever a lack of harmony arises between us. We are gift bearers, bringing messages to ourselves and to one another through our sexual sharing. The ability to remain still enough to hear these messages requires tremendous discipline -- the discipline of not complaining, of not blaming, of not fearing or doubting or judging. It is, in fact, the ultimate discipline of unconditional love and curiosity.

There are many reasons why two people are drawn sexually to one another. There is the need to be reassured, to reassure the other, to forget separateness, to be safe, to feel alive and vibrant, to be united, to feel in communion with, to ward off loneliness, to feel valued, to be momentarily complete, to do our duty, to transcend the daily boredom, to touch the mysterious, to awaken the life force, to be consumed by a power greater than the mind, to heal misunderstandings, to claim our territory, to reinstate our affectionate hold, to give what we believe the other wants, to keep peace, to express tenderness, and on and on and on. All of the reasons are valid; all of them are part of a deep urge toward wholeness and love.

But each different reason carries with it a different energy field. Some of these fields are mutually compatible, and some are not. If, for example, we are longing to be reassured that we are loved and valued, and our partner is giving what he or she considers to be a duty, neither of us will be satisfied.

During times of disconnectedness, if we can intimately and with deep trust venture together into our most vulnerable honesties, we will begin to discover the understanding that can eventually lead to healing.

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We have been given few attributes as potent, volatile, and complex as our sexuality. For our sexuality often becomes a focal point where unacknowledged fears, hopes, expectations, and griefs rise to the surface.

It takes courage to go beyond our fear and actually acknowledge what is buried within us, but, when we do, we open the way for communion, joy, and profound discovery.

The more we can share about ourselves with our beloved, the more sexual harmony we will enjoy, and the greater will be our ability to discover and heal all the fears and misconceptions that keep us from our true capacity for intimacy, pleasure, and fulfillment.

Intimacy and Humility

We have been socialized in this culture to believe in a romantic fantasy in which two people meet, fall in love, live happily ever after, and never need anyone else.

This, we all eventually discover, is merely a fairy tale, and seeking it distracts us from the possibility of a more fulfilling voyage of discovery, a voyage that can lead us deeper into ourselves and into each other.

Inevitably, we bring not only our love to a relationship, but also our wounds and confusion. As the relationship begins to mature, we become a bit more willing to let go of the image that we believed we needed to maintain in order to love or to be loved. We become willing to risk showing more of ourselves, more of those places where we believe we are flawed.

Healing relationships give us the courage to face ourselves, to see those attitudes and behaviors that are not in keeping with our essential being. They show us the ways in which we distance ourselves from others, and enable us to see how we defend those habits and beliefs that compromise our well-being and the well-being of our relationships. As we acknowledge and share these patterns, they can become undone. Conflict, guilt, sorrow, and all the other fearful emotions can lead us to the place where the wounded child waits in hiding, so that what has been hurt can be brought to health.

When our heart's desire is to heal ourselves and each other, then every single moment can become an invitation to move toward love. When we open to ourselves and to our beloved with honor and total acceptance, something miraculous happens. In the full mingling of our spirits we are renewed, strengthened, and delivered to our highest possibilities. Our love has become a bridge not only to ourselves and to each other, but to life itself.

Criticism and Intimacy

There are times in every intimate relationship when we wish to express to the other person that he or she is doing something that we feel is not in alignment with his or her spirit.

This is a delicate moment. For when we share any kind of criticism, the attitude we hold toward the other and the manner in which we speak are an essential part of the message we convey. The communication becomes difficult to receive if we are relating out of a sense of separation or condescension, if we are bitter, judgmental, or angry or if we are needing the other person to change. There is a much greater possibility that our communication will be heard and received when we are embracing the other as essentially well and whole, and when we speak with acceptance and respect for who he or she already is.

We have all at times used our intimate relationships as a place to vent our frustrations. A healing relationship, however, calls for impeccable reThe Awakened Heart : Meditations on Finding Harmony in a Changing Worldsponsibility and infinite fairness and respect. For only then can enough trust develop so that trembling hearts can open deeply to each other and risk being known.

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This article was excerpted from the book The Awakened Heart : Meditations on Finding Harmony in a Changing World, © by John Robbins and Ann Mortifee. Reprinted with permission of the publisher HJ Kramer/New World Library, Novato, CA 94949.

A fear of intimacy will interfere with your capacity for intimacy.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 23). Understanding Intimacy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Last Updated: August 18, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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