Intimacy is more than just swoony, lovey-dovey eye contact. True intimacy is powerful and requires these key skills from BOTH partners:
1. Self-Awareness You must know who you are so you don’t project your own insecurities and neurotic tendencies onto your lover. For instance, I realized a few years ago, that I kept getting irritated with my husband over small things and that my irritation was very similar to the way my mom used to behave toward my father. Once I made that connection I was able to stop myself from acting unfairly toward my husband — or at least I realized why I was acting that way and could control it.
2. Self-Knowledge Intimacy only happens when both partners are present in a relationship and can relate to each other from their authentic selves. When you’re acting and not being your real self, then you and your partner can’t truly connect in an honest, meaningful way.
3. Self-Acceptance Self-acceptance is the process of learning to love yourself with all of your flaws. We are all human. We all have those parts of ourselves that we are not proud of, but we might as well accept them because they are part of what makes us who we are. Once you are able to love yourself, you’ll feel more open and receptive to the love your partner gives you.
4. Self-Exposure This is the core interactive skill that builds intimacy. Is there anything you are afraid to express, to share or to ask for? Why? Is it too soon? Possibly, but as you get deeper into a relationship, you must open yourself up fully to your partner. You don’t need to agree. You just need to respect each other’s differences. If you continue being honest with each other, even in conflict and difference, you’ll each learn more about each other and yourself. And this is where real bonding happens.
5. Self-Responsibility This is the crux of adult relationships and the primary reason you need to develop all these other skills. Self-responsibility includes recognizing your own needs and being responsible enough to express them and act in positive ways that support them being met. This includes knowing that a relationship doesn’t have the potential for deep intimacy and choosing to leave so that you can make space in your life for someone else.
None of this is about perfection. It is about life, growing, learning, and deepening your connection to your partner.