A vital relationship key
Me and You (and a dog named Boo)…
How much togetherness is just the right amount? Managing our conflicting needs and desires for both connection and independence is without doubt a challenging area of relationship. Yet with the right understanding and skills, the ‘me and you’ in relationship can also offer us some of its greatest joys.
Connection & Self in relationship don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
Instead they can be a dance of deepening connection between the two.
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of.
When we first get together our focus is on the romantic ideal of increasing closeness, there’s no such thing a too much, all the way to the happy ever after of never needing to be alone again. Our desire to merge with another is an innately powerful and primal drive for physical, emotional and even spiritual wellbeing.
Initially we can be happy to give up everything for the sake of our relationship. We drop friends, and other commitments and interests because it seems like the relationship offers us everything we need. Over time this singular focus on closeness begins to feel like boredom or claustrophobia. We start to resent what we’re giving up, or the intimacy we experience no longer feels like it is ‘enough’. Our unsatisfying ‘aloneness’ becomes unsatisfying, and even painful.
Resentment and Frustration can be a healthy sign.
If any of this is happening for you, it’s not that anything is necessarily wrong with your relationship. It’s simply that your individual sense of Self is seeking to re assert itself and this is a healthy sign. Maintaining our authentic sense of Self, often the first thing we give up in the romantic stage of relationship, is a vital key to keeping ourselves flourishing and the sexual flame burning for the long run.
The games people play
When you understand and take ownership of this intimacy dance, relationship becomes easier and richer, you can dive deeply into intimacy yet you’re less hooked into your partner. In the dance of intimacy we subtly change our behaviours in order to get our partner’s attention, approval, or our own needs met. We do this by doing too much, being nice instead of real, making promises we can’t keep in order to get laid or ‘keeping busy’ to avoid uncomfortable intimacy. It’s normal and we all do it in one way or another, it’s just not sustainable over the long run.
What are some of the ways that you are behaving currently that might be at the expense of your authentic self?
Layer 1: Our own needs and desires
Initially we can get away with these behaviours as they help us get our immediate needs for love and approval met. But over time our forgotten Self begins to push back. This is a challenging time in relationship due to the level of vulnerability it creates.
The real danger at this point doesn’t come from the situation itself. It comes from not understanding what’s happening and blaming our partners or the relationship for our suffering ie. getting angry when ‘Mummy or Daddy’ isn’t there for us in the way that we want, or they have conflicting desires of their own. The other thing we do is to look outside of our relationship for our answers ie. focussing on the children for intimacy, having an affair or going online for sex.
The answer is looking within
If we can openly acknowledge what is lacking for us without blame and look inside of ourselves for what we can do from within the relationship, the relationship will flourish. Asking ourselves – How can I meet my own need or desire here? How can I be the adult rather than the child? Can I, for example, learn adult to adult intimacy or better sexual relating skills rather than simply looking elsewhere to get my needs met?
Layer 2: Our partners needs and desires
Another aspect of the dance of intimacy is when our partner’s needs and desires challenge or bring fear or resistance in us. Rather than squashing our partner to protect ourselves it is more helpful to see that this challenge actually lies within us, as a marker to something that is incomplete in ourselves asking to be explored. This is where our partner’s needs and desires can be a gift for us.
Layer 3: The deepest layer
There is a part of us that our partner, no matter how loved and loving, can never fill in us and looking for it in them only creates pain for ourselves. This is the part of us that is calling us to be in our own centre, in our Essence. This is being the love that lives within us, the place where we can feel like we’re ‘home’, no matter what and where being with our partner feels like a precious desire rather than a need. Once we get this the dance of intimacy comes with greater ease, the more intimately connected we are with ourselves the more ease we have with each other and ourselves.
Independence and authenticity create desire
Being connected to ourselves is also how we remain sexually desirable to our partners as sexual attraction relies strongly on a sense of otherness and separateness in building the desire to reconnect. Cultivating our uniqueness (that probably is what attracted them in the first place) we can share with our partner helps keep the juice of relationship flowing.
A pathway of growth
Intimate relationship is the best personal development course we can ever do as it challenges us to look where we otherwise might not as we:
- Learn to be ourselves whilst being with another
- Learn to answer our own needs and desires rather than totally relying on our partner
- See we’re still ok where our partners are different from us
- See our differences as growth points
- Learn to show up fully in ourselves when challenged without blaming or disappearing
- Enjoy moments of being ‘at one’ with each other
- Be able to be totally separate yet still feel connected.
The most important thing about this dance is to recognize it is happening and not to make it wrong, seeking to understand it instead.
To see where we create our reality by what we choose.
Oh, and what is the right amount of togetherness? When it is a desire rather than a need.
Relationships are either growing or dying, taking charge in your intimate dance will grow new life.