Sharing our tender, intimate feelings with another is a voyage of discovery and pleasure that is so easily elicited when we begin a new relationship. In my relationship counseling practice, however, I find there is a tendency to ignore feelings of hurt as time goes on and not address them in ourselves or to another. It is here that distrust can arise in our everyday interactions with someone who is precious to us. So much becomes interpreted but not spoken, thought but not owned, and when opportunities come to address such things, it can be challenging to express them so that disclosure can bring us greater understanding and connection with one another.
In the dance of emotional and verbal intimacy, there is an aspect of communication you might find helpful to remember. When you offer well-intended “helpful” advice or interpret what someone may be feeling for them, it can create an unsafe environment for that person to share more deeply. It actually creates a wall of separation between you. When someone reveals a deeper truth, offering an environment of transparency, the heart is open and he or she is at his or her most vulnerable. When responded with well-intended questions or advice to fix, rather than simply witness and receive them, they may be tempted to defend or withdraw. The subtle message he/she receives from you is that they are not seen as a whole and capable being, perhaps even “weak” or stupid. It can not only invalidate what they are feeling, it places you in a place of “superiority” suggesting you “know better”. It is in this space that a subtle hierarchy is created, a wall of separation is built and the gateway to intimate communion is constricted.
I counsel with couples that when deeper intimacy is their desire, it is important to let go of your perceptions and assumptions about those who have the courage to share their tender feelings with you. Instead come into a deeper, intimate communion with your own feeling nature and reflect on what they are saying might relate to you. This is what I ask of many individual men and women clients, couples and group participants I have facilitated over the years. This what I ask of myself and my intimate friends. In some relationships, this is simply not where you want to go but for those who want to dive deeply into the intimate spaces between another and feel met, equal and even sated, I invite you to consider how our cultural conditioning has encouraged us to assign authority to others and discourages us from standing in our own truth and power which may, in the very nature of process, be uncertain, vulnerable and tentative.
Some people consider their value to others is tied up in “helping” rather than building a place of trust using their own process as a spring board for deeper intimacy. It is in this energetic, tender holding of each others’ feelings, we have an opportunity to listen deeply, hearing the strands of commonality revealing its beautiful tapestry of intimate communion. If your true desire in relationships is to experience intimate union not just sexually but emotionally too, I invite you to play in this field of loving presence and acceptance of each other’s most vulnerable feelings and watch the magic unfold even more than you thought possible!