Setting the Stage for Emotional Intimacy
Giving from the pure well.
Linda: Often, people ask us about the best way to set the stage for intimacy. Often, when they do, they are talking about a physical connection. What they are really asking for is help in seducing their partner. Seduction, which has more to do with conquest and the attainment of a goal, is quite different from the experience of emotional intimacy, which often happens spontaneously and never involves coercion or manipulation.
If intimacy is what we are really after, then the way to bring more or it into our life is to have our life be the stage that we’re setting to practice open, non-judging, and loving communication with our partner all the time, not simply when we are “looking for a little something”. Feeling like we’re being softened up for some loving is one of life’s greatest turn-offs. People don’t like to be manipulated, nor do we enjoy having someone get angry with us for not coming across with the goods “after all I’ve given you”.
Even if we have a history of having been manipulative and self-centered in the past, we can still begin to re-instill trust with our partner by doing everything that we normally do to get them to win them over, and disengaging from any agenda, sexual or otherwise. This means giving our partner a very high level of focused, caring attention. Most of the time we do not look deeply into our partner’s experience, perhaps because we think that it’s not necessary. After all, we already know them. Wrong! We might know something about them, but we don’t know who they are, what they are feeling, wanting, or needing at any given moment. All of us are constantly evolving in our ever-changing lives. When we forget that our partner is a work in progress, rather than a fixed entity, we take them for granted and they are likely feel neglected.
All of the gifts in the world can’t make up for the experience of being ignored. And nothing is more compelling to us than the feeling of being given unconditionally loving attention by someone for whom we care deeply. When we provide this quality of attentiveness to our partner, we not only come to see and understand them more clearly, but we convey to them a feeling of being cherished and valued, like a precious jewel. It is the quality of attention that we bring TO each other, even more than what we do FOR each other that conveys our level of caring. That which we love is that to which we give attention. The more loving in our attention, our words, and our deeds we are with our partner, the more intimacy we will share together.
Giving fully of your uncritical and non-judging attention to our partner often invites a response of appreciation and openness that can dissolve attachments to previously held grudges or hurts. Instead of trying to get our partner to “get over it”, we can let the quality of our attentiveness express that we love them regardless of how they may be feeling at the time. It’s important that both or us feel that the love that we share is stronger than whatever temporary disturbances may be going on between us. When we desire to know our partner’s feelings, their longings, and their desires because we care about them and want to make them happy, we will give them a kind of attention that is very compelling.
This kind of caring can’t be faked. If we are giving to our partner in order to manipulate them into accommodating any of our own desires, they will in all likelihood sense this on some level, and our gift will be tainted. If we are moved to give of ourselves out of a desire to connect with our partner or to make them happier as an expression of our caring, then our gifts will be wholesome, and under such circumstances, both the of us will benefit. True giving never has strings or expectations attached to it and it nourishes both the giver and the receiver. Any giving that is contaminated by attachments is impure and therefore incapable of leaving either party fulfilled. Like junk food, it temporarily satisfies the desire and takes away the appetite, but it doesn’t nourish. Giving does.
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Bloom, L. (2017). Setting the Stage for Emotional Intimacy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2017/06/setting-the-stage-for-emotional-intimacy/