Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Intimacy is often times mistaken forphysical closeness: hugging, cuddling, kissing, sex. However, if there is no emotional intimacy,as in emotional relatingand a feeling of safety in a relationship, then physical intimacy can only go that far.
For many people, physical intimacy comes easier than emotional intimacy. For others it is the other way around. Often times people avoid emotional intimacy by focusing on physical intimacy, using sex to buffer up their vulnerability. But in order to truly open up to a partner and go deep, we need to feel safe and be able to share emotional intimacy, our fears, mistakes, and pains and receive each other with compassion and empathy.
In order to be emotional intimate with a partner we need to be able to be intimate with ourselves, feeling our vulnerability without judgment and developing healthy self-love. If we are not comfortable with our own vulnerability, we cannot receive the vulnerability of another person fully and emotional intimacy is blocked. No matter how hot the sex and how great physical intimacy is, if we don’t develop or have emotional intimacy and the safety to express ourselves that way, a relationship can go only so far.
We need safety and healthy boundaries in order to establish intimacy on all levels. This safety is more than just feeling “secure” and boundaries don’t mean rejection or avoidance. It is about taking care of ourselves. Our body gives us constantly clues about what is safe for us and what not. The more we are in touch with our bodies, the more we can receive these messages which also puts us in touch with our vulnerability. It’s important to listen to these bodily sensations which go deeper than just sexual feelings. Most often they are buried under layers of “armor”. It’s easy to rationalize these deeper sensations away, judging ourselves for not opening up when it doesn’t feel safe. Don’t listen to the mind, trust your body and don’t judge yourself for however you feel.
Emotional intimacy goes hand in hand with trust, knowing that we can be completely ourselves with all our vulnerability and always be received with compassion and empathy in a safe container by a partner. But before we can receive another person like that ourselves, or even express ourselves that way, we must be able to to be compassionate with ourselves and love ourselves, the dark and light, neither inflating or diminishing ourselves.
Otherwise we will keep looking for the illusory partner, who never comes and whom we want to be a certain way, when in fact this is what we need to give to ourselves first. Sometimes we’re looking for a “savior” in a partner unconsciously but it is a projection of what we have denied or avoided to give ourselves: healthy self-love, vulnerability and inner safety. Before we can develop deeper trust with a partner, we need to be able to trust ourselves and the deeper clues our bodies are giving us.
Living in a world with ever increasing technology and computerization we have become more and more disconnected from our bodies. We stare at a computer screen more than ever before, professionally or at home. We are glued to our smartphones. Children spend more time on play-stations, TV, and computers than playing outside. We have become desensitized and are not aware of how we hold and carry ourselves and how every day life affects our bodies and overall health.
Most of us are so out of touch with our bodies that we don’t even sense these messages which could help us to make wiser decisions and choices. Our rational mind tends to over-ride the more subtle impressions of the body, the gut feeling, and the energetic clues that are perceived by the body. We may sense some tension in our bodies when something or someone feels off but tend to ignore it, getting stuck in our head and our thoughts. Mainstream education doesn’t teach us about body awareness and how to listen to our intuition and gut-feelings. We reward intellectual intelligence but have forgotten emotional intelligence and the intelligence of the body.
There are many ways to get in touch with our bodies (Bodywork, Yoga, Dance, Qi Gong, Tai Qi, to name a few…) in order to increase self-awareness and sensitivity to the energetic clues of our environment as well as release energy blocks, stress and trauma that is manifested in our bodies from our past and through daily living. A healthy body-mind is the foundation for good health and relationships: physical, emotional, and mental.
“Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe