For some people relationships are like wardrobes.
New and exciting at first. You notice all your favorite things of this new item. It brings out your eyes. Smells fresh and new. Feels so smooth. You mix and match with accessories, makeup, handbags and nail polish.
Strangers can’t resisit but to compliment you on the street.
“You look good!”
There comes a point in time when it’s the same ol’ thing and it’s time to get a new one.
Relationships are not very different—but is it a good idea to be out with the old?
Intimacy is like an ice cream sundae with all the scrumptous toppings and chocolate syrup settling at the bottom. If you just dabble at the surface you don’t get to indulge.
You don’t want to treat the relationship like a wardrobe and replace when the feeling of novelty has worn off.
Research has identified 3 ways to build intimacy.
Research has found that the 2 main qualities in healthy relationships: kindness and generosity. The world-renowned researcher on marital stability and divorce prediction, Dr. John Gottman, puts it this way: “every positive thing you do is foreplay.” In other words, a healthy relationship = plenty of foreplay. Build intimacy and get a lot of satisfaction.
Isn’t that what flirting is all about? Being “extra” nice and “extra” attentive. Show your partner how attracted you are!
It’s easy to let our anger get the best of us. But if we retreat or attack, we are following the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, Contempt), the 4 determiners of divorce and unhealthy relationships.
It’s no surprise we feel emotionally distant when there has been an imbalance in our interactions lately. Someone is a little too critical, or has been avoiding a certain topic, or denies taking even some responsibility, or has been showing their indignance and superiority, or just simply negative with each other. It’s hard to hold back, especially if we’re resentful, but once you breakthrough to a more positive conversation, resentment may be resolved because we might ask for what we need in a more encouraging way, and since the mood is right, we may get our needs met. Self-control allows more positive opportunities for growth and connection.
3. Personal Sharing
To go beyond the status quo—and not just having an “okay” relationship, but a fulfilling relationship with intimacy and deep connection—practice lots of personal sharing. Our brain responds to personal sharing the same way we respond to food and sex. Couples who share with each other more, like each other more. Sharing things that you don’t with anyone else builds that trust and intimacy we need in a healthy relationship.
These are intimate conversations and truths about who we are. When we share with each other, we know about each other more. And inevitably test how our partner will respond with our vulnerabilities. Will they tell their mother about how I hate her lasagna or will they keep my vulnerabilities private? Will they listen when I’m pouring my heart out and share their own vulnerabilities?
People look for extra energy in green tea, triple shots of expresso, yoga retreats or whatever new trend the next Fortune 500 company suggests you need.
But research in psychology, anthropology, and history have established our human need for connection as a foundation that has a pervasive influence on a multitude of aspects of our well-being.
Think about it, what does it mean to you to build intimacy?
Indulge yourself. Do one of these smart connection strategies today and see what you get.
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