Why Is Intimacy Necessary For Successful Relationships?

 

Rooftops of a European town with mountain in background

“Without love, the rich and poor live in the same house.” ~ Author Unknown


How would it feel to live a life without love? 

Imagine relating to other people on a purely superficial level without ever knowing their hopes and dreams, or struggles and fears. Only seeing the outside physical persona and never getting a glimpse of the inside where emotions and feelings dwell. 

Imagine if you never truly shared yourself? Your own ambitions and goals; fears, and failures. The countless life experiences, both good and bad, destined to stay locked up in your own heart and mind.

One would assume that these aren’t conscious choices. Why on earth would someone deliberately avoid the intimacy that makes life so meaningful?

These familiar associations and deep levels of understanding are the hallmarks of loving relationships. They can exist with lovers, parents, children, and other people who have a prominent role in our lives.

So, why do some individuals have such a fear of intimacy?


The first contact we have with other human beings is our family of origin. Usually, this is a mother, father, and siblings. 

Love Parental

Sometimes it’s a single parent, another relative, or foster parents. Regardless of whom our first caretakers are we’re directly affected by if and how they nurture.

Some of us get lucky and are born into good families. They possess the ability to set proper boundaries while allowing us the freedom to learn and explore. 

They invest a lot of resources into our growth and development and these youngsters have the best chance for success in life.

Some of us end up abused and neglected; throwaway children largely left to fend for themselves. Their parents are absentee, addicted to drugs and alcohol, or struggling with the ill-effects from their own childhoods. Exposed to such negative circumstances and lacking love and guidance the outlook for these kids is very poor.

These are the extremes and there are many variations in between. However, love itself can be divided into two types:

Unconditional love

Unconditional love is neutral and has no opposite. Because it comes from the spirit it’s available to everyone. We’re not required to do anything to qualify for it.

2 BirdsWhen we decide to think and act in ways based on unconditional love, it doesn’t automatically mean that we agree with everyone and everything. It does mean that we make a conscious decision to respect and show kindness to others despite our differences.

We reap many positive benefits in all areas of our lives (physical, mental, emotional) from loving unconditionally.

Conditional love

Conversely, conditional love is a polarized emotion and has an opposite, which is hate.

When we love someone conditionally we expect certain things from them. We want them to think and act according to our own paradigms. If they want to receive our love and approval, they must meet those expectations. 

Conditional love causes us to believe that “I’m right and you’re wrong, so you should think the way I do.” When we begin to judge someone as being right or wrong, we assume authority over them. This leads to controlling behavior without regard to the other person’s thoughts and feelings.


Both types of love are seen in a wide variety of households.

PuppetInitially, one would assume that higher levels of education and socioeconomic factors would guarantee unconditional love. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. 

Unhealthy, controlling relationships aren’t limited to lower-income families. They thrive in better neighborhoods, as well.  Our true personalities are a direct result of how we were raised and not our financial portfolios. 

Some of the kindest, most generous people possess very little in the way of material assets. Yet, they are genuine and honest, never attempting to pad their resume in order to be something they’re not. They give freely, with no strings attached. They love unconditionally.

Then there are those people who define themselves according to what they’ve accumulated in life: houses, cars, country-club memberships, etc. They fall into the trap of trying to impress and “keep up with the Joneses.”

Instead of building and maintaining healthy relationships, they focus on status and image. This creates flawed expectations of themselves and those closest to them. They confuse love for control.


People must feel kindness towards themselves and possess self-confidence in order to live authentically. They must have the encouragement of family and friends to be who they truly are. This need for acceptance begins in childhood. If they don’t receive loving affirmation then feelings of inadequacy can deeply and negatively affect the rest of their lives.

“Children Learn What They Live” (Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte) is a timeless poem that offers simple, yet profound insights into how a child’s upbringing determines whether they’ll fear intimacy or embrace it:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

My mother introduced this poem to me and I referred to it often as I raised my own children. It made good sense then and even more as I’ve grown older. 

To be loved and accepted for our strengths, in spite of our faults, can only occur between people who understand and practice the art of intimacy.


 

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What Happens When You’ve Lost That Writing Feeling?


That “writing feeling” didn’t disappear overnight.

I’ve always felt it and began this blog in 2015. Up until a few months ago, I’ve written pretty regularly. Then, there came moments of “I’ve got nothing today.” Those moments grew into hours, then days, then weeks. Not only didn’t I write anything, but I stopped reading the people I follow.

Instead of knuckling down and stringing actual words together, I’d opt for a Quote of the Day or an entry in one of the photo challenges. My initial goal wasn’t to write a blog post every single day, so these fillers (as I call them) are a way to share other things I enjoy and stay in regular touch with my readers. But, instead of filling in between posts they became the main content.

It’s not really writer’s block, which is the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

Good Lord, anyone who reads the daily news, interacts on social media, or wakes up in the morning has a plethora of subjects to write about. Between our own personal lives and those of the rest of humanity, there’s a never-ending supply of writing prompts. All you need is an opinion.

How to proceed with writing is simple: pick a topic and start typing. Sure, it takes work to get your ideas down in a clear, cohesive fashion, but there’s no mystery about the process.


Indifference ElementREV

So, if not writer’s block, then what?

It feels more like writer’s apathy; an indifference to the writing process itself. And yes, this is a thing. When I Googled it several links came up. This one from Ginny Carter at BookBaby Blog offers 7 Remedies For Writer’s Apathy. 

It’s very similar to exercise and diet apathy, which I’m currently suffering from as well. The less you do it, the less you want to do it. 

Therefore, the resolution is to just do it. (Thanks, Nike and speaking of resolutions, the New Year is just around the corner.)

Accomplishing a goal is always easier said than done; however, it doesn’t answer the question as to why it happened in the first place. So, I did some reflection regarding these past few months and noted the following changes:

  • I started a new job
  • My mom went into a nursing home
  • I’ve become disillusioned with politics 
  • I’ve become disillusioned with people 

Looking at this list helps me understand why I feel so paralyzed in my indifference. I feel less hopeful about life in general. And when we lose hope, we lose our passion and energy. 


I decided to break it down into pros, cons & what, if anything, I can do about it. This is what I came up with:

PRO:  A new job brings time constraints, but offers opportunities for fresh writing ideas. Working with youth gives me a different perspective on life and I’m enjoying the change. It’s also offered better wages and a more positive work environment than what I did in the past and that’s a welcome improvement!

CON & RESOLUTION:  I’ve been through the nursing home experience with my Dad and it’s no fun, but I have insights that I didn’t before. I’ll be a better advocate for my mom. Fortunately, her situation is different and she feels more secure in her new living arrangements.

CON & RESOLUTION: While I don’t approve of the current administration, I can control how much of their messages I hear. Therefore, I’ve decided to limit my exposure to social media and disreputable news sites. I believe there’s a happy medium to staying informed without being sucked into the vitriol that thrives on those platforms. I can do things to advance my own ideas of fair government without giving in to cynicism and overdosing on hate and negativity.

Meme: I'm not an astronomer, but I'm sure the earth revolves around the sun and not you.

CON & RESOLUTION:  And people never fail to disappoint (not that I’m perfect.) However, I’ve always made an effort to understand the other guy’s POV. But, the total lack of respect and empathy that I see on display is mind-boggling. There are individuals who can’t step outside their own heads. Their mantra seems to be: “It’s my way or the highway.”

They honestly believe that their perceptions are everyone else’s reality.

There’s no self-reflection or accountability because most of these folks think they’re pretty darn perfect! No regard for the fact that there’s another side to every equation; that someone else may experience things differently. 

And this very thinking causes most of their misery and that of others.

Again, the best way to limit the ill effects of these individuals is to stay away from them. Whether they’re family members or online trolls, it’s best to keep a safe distance. 


I'm not afraid of storms for I'm learning to sail my ship with photo of dingy cresting a wave.So, I guess the answer is to always maintain a healthy balance when it comes to needs and expectations.

Recognizing negativity will prevent us from becoming invested in the wrong things. Instead, we can focus on the people and things that bring joy to our lives.

Just like a pilot or sailor adjusts their navigation in response to the wind and sea we must make adjustments for the changes that occur in life.

 And this should happen before the paralyzing apathy takes over.


Well, it appears that I’ve answered my question, started a New Year’s resolutions list, and written a blog post…talk about making up for lost time! 

I’m not the first person to experience a loss of artistic passion. If you have any helpful tips to prevent or resolve creative apathy please share in the comments.

Now that I’ve rediscovered the writing feeling, I better tackle that diet/exercise apathy next! 😉