A truly intimate relationship is one that may, or may not, include physical intimacy but should always include emotional intimacy.
An emotionally intimate relationship offers warmth, acceptance, love and a genuine authenticity. But what exactly does it mean to be emotionally intimate?
When we are emotionally intimate with another person we are invested in their lives, we can share personal thoughts and we feel secure in their love and acceptance.
If ever there was a time when this true and deep connection was at its peak of importance it is during the holidays. The holidays are a time when many feel insecure, possibly unloved, and almost definitely more stressed. People may be stressed because of finances, romantic relationships, family, friends or an overwhelming sense of urgency regarding all that the holidays represent.
So how do we keep all of this in check and nourish our relationships?
1. Share your feelings.
This may sound very simple, and you may even be thinking that you already do this, but it is important to really be honest with yourself and determine if you are sharing your feelings or your opinions. Feelings will often bring people to feel more bonded with you whereas opinions, especially those not delivered in a kind way, tend to drive people away.
2. Be respectful of other people’s opinions.
This does not mean that you have to agree with them. Listen with an open mind and recognize that we’re all entitled to our own opinions. If you believe that you are absolutely correct then think long and hard before you share that little tidbit. You must consider if making your point really serves a purpose.
If the only point is to prove that you are right, and that the other person is wrong, then it is time to just agree to disagree and move right along. When there is a point to making sure that your side is heard than use sentences starters. Beginning with “I feel “rather than “You should” will go a long way. Statements in which you seem to be commanding someone to do something will result in bruised egos, hurt feelings and unhappiness. Sentences in which you share your feelings will help facilitate open communication and a sense of closeness.
However, it is really not that simple for some people. To really, and truly, listen one has to be completely tuned in. If someone is speaking to you about their feelings, their day, or anything else and you are not in a situation where you can truly engage in what they are saying then respect them enough to tell them so.
If you want to lose a relationship one of the quickest paths to the end is to not fully engage.
4. Treat everything that is shared with you as simply between the two of you.
If you tell someone else’s information to other people then they will no longer trust you and a bond may be forever broken. Remember, “A secret is no longer a secret once you tell someone.”
5. Do not ever use information shared by a loved one against them.
This is unfair and will only serve to insure that you will no longer be honored with the intimate sharing of information and feelings.
6. Share the good times, as well as the bad.
To have a truly strong and intimate bond we must laugh as hard as we cry.
Simply put, building a relationship on a house of cards that is built with the foundation of the illusion that everything is always good,all of the time, is sure to end with a building that has been burnt to the ground.
Conversely, if you never have anything nice and uplifting to say then you may be seen as a difficult person who is too depressing to be around. Again, you must consider your feelings as well as the feelings of those that surround you.
7. Remember that you do not deserve better than you give.
If you want a good relationship with someone than you must be a good partner in that relationship.
8. Do not expect someone to change. Help people to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
Make sure that no matter what they understand that you truly believe that they are enough. Give yourself permission to believe that about yourself too. The best version of you can nourish a relationship and create an amazing outcome.
9. Accept that some problems cannot be solved.
During this holiday season this may come out in the form of a mother-in-law that does not care for the way you parent. It may be a friend who is upset that you will not go to yet another party. Perhaps it is a child who is sad that they cannot eat 15 pieces of candy. Maybe it is a spouse who is frustrated at how many people are on the holiday guest list. Accept that there are differences and stay calm. Be true to your values and be realistic of what is expected of you.
10. Enjoy yourself and those that surround you.
The Holiday season is not supposed to be about presents and exhaustion. Conversely, it should be about fun times with those that you care about the most. These are the intimate bonds to honor as these are the bonds that will sustain you and nourish you.
reposted from my Nov, 2013 article of the same name