“Two lovers float entwined in one another, ensnared by their emotion. He envelops and engages; she resists and surrenders. They struggle as one with equal passion and with passion equally.
She balances his head in her arms. She supports him and nurtures his soul. He gazes up at her giving visage and his heart is filled with peace. He lifts her above himself, occupying himself with her. He covers her, holds her, watches her and shelters her in his noble protection and loving attention. The secret they share is understanding.”
~ Shelly Corbett
Committed relationships, if we want them to be healthy, fulfilling and long-lasting, demand us to be truly intimate. Intimacy or “Into-me-see” is about clear seeing into ourselves to then see another. Intimacy goes far beyond the physical touch – it is about being real and completely bared naked with your heart and soul; meaning all your deepest fears, desires and perceived weaknesses.
Intimacy is based on trust, conscious sensuality, intentional communication, deep listening, vulnerability, receptive eye gazing, deep love, devotion, appreciation and acceptance. It means holding safe space for another to allow them to be who they truly are.
We yearn for intimacy and yet avoid it. We yearn closeness and yet need freedom. Often in relationships partners polarize; one starts representing the need for freedom while the other embodies the need for togetherness; and so forth. It is a creative dynamic tension that each relationship goes through but with intimate communication, couples can find a way to acknowledge their individual hopes and fears, needs and desires, for both freedom and togetherness.
We are used to perceiving pleasure and pain as something “outside of us”. And so we are quick to blame our partner for our disappointments. But the real gift of disappointments, let’s say, is recognizing that the pain we imagined was caused by them is actually already within us. But this also means that the pleasure and joy is already within us too – and we can bring it back.
Intimacy starts with receptive eye gazing – feeling into ourselves and bringing into awareness our deeper feelings and sensations that arise when we look into our partner’s eyes. We all have fears and weaknesses and pains and shames and worries. But by bringing them into awareness and sharing them with our partner, someone we truly trust and is trustworthy, we can integrate these various parts of ourselves and let them float in peace – sheltered safely in our union and merging into oneness; building a deeply loving stable bond. Look into each other’s eyes when making love, when talking, when feeling sad. Don’t be afraid to say, “I need you” or “I feel afraid.” Being vulnerable does not take your power away. In fact – letting go of our defences makes us invulnerable/unbreakable.
Most likely we’ll experience resistance at some point in time with our deepening in understanding and love of ourselves and our partner. Resistance is natural. It is the part of you that is afraid of change because it is a breaking of a pattern; we are doing something unknown which our mind has no previous storyline in the archives of our past to align this with – and so as a defense mechanism it triggers resistance. We prefer old beliefs and patterns, and ways of doing things – but this is not to our benefit. Resistance is very clever, it’s a crafty detective. Sometimes resistance is clear and concise, but other times it is a bit more sneaky and disguised. It can be like a thought, feeling or a sense that says, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t know what will happen. I’ll be left alone. I am afraid,” or it can take on its detective disguise saying, “I’m just busy, tired. It’s just too much. There’s no point doing it anyway.” It’s up to us to discern what’s true and what isn’t; what’s resistance versus what’s a true need/desire/want – and this requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. Don’t fight a resistance – just name it so that it takes shape outside of you like a box, and walk around it observing it and understanding its real message.
Why would we resist something we’ve longed for and desired? Old habits run deep and so does our self-sabotage (self-destruction instinct) because of our childhood wounds. Perhaps as a child you longed for affection or appreciation but didn’t get it. Perhaps as a result you came to believe that your needs, desires and longings are not important and don’t deserve to be fulfilled. Such beliefs form our identities and are deeply (and painfully) ingrained within us; to the extend that when we do get what we’ve desired and longed for – we doubt it and resist it because “our reality” is not used to that; because this is unknown; because it doesn’t fit our subconscious pattern; because it doesn’t comply with our old beliefs stuck in our mind/past experiences. Look, there is no shame in that – we all have our stuff. This is not about blaming those people neither because they too had their stuff, and are humble human beings carrying their own pains. This is just about ourselves – to shed some understanding on what things have shaped us, realizing that it is not who we are but just an identity we took on (like a job title) and to understand how our mind perceives everything else around us so that we make more aware decisions/choices in our lives.
To be open to receive what we want from our partner, we need to be willing to risk not getting it; to be willing to feel the pain of those previous unmet needs.
True intimacy is about having the courage to see another as who they truly are; not as we want them to be, not as their potential and not as some replica of our past. It is about acceptance and integration.
Intimacy demands us to reveal our own selves and in that way we are able to make space for another as they reveal themselves. It is about making love with the lights on, eyes open wide, in the bedroom and in ourselves.
As we move through the protective barriers that have held us back safely, we move closer to our true essence and the essence of true love.
Intimate communication requires deep listening. Most people say that the key to relationships is communication – but it is actually understanding. We can talk all we want but unless we understand what the other person actually means, it’d be of no use. Many arguments and conflicts can be avoided by clear, open and honest dialogue and understanding. This requires deep listening; to hear our partner’s truth while simultaneously honouring our own. They can both exist together. If we begin to notice we are judging the other, this usually entails that we are assuming “they are right and we are wrong” so we subconsciously go into defence mode. Both of you can be right together. The point is to understand your realities and perspectives. Listen to each other and clarify – because we all have different ways of expressing ourselves.
Intimate communication is about appreciating our partner. We should always remember to express our appreciation for the little things and small gestures they have done for us. We all love and show affection in our own unique ways, and it is important to understand each other so that we understand how the other expresses their love. Appreciation is of deeply spiritual nature and refocuses our energy. Even if you think they know about something you valued in them during the day – tell them anyway. Nothing is every too small to mention. Let them know how it made you feel and what action of theirs provoked that – which of your needs and desires were fulfilled. Say, “I love when you do …… because it makes me feel ……” And receive their appreciation – open your heart to receive and be willing to be touched by them also. Every day appreciate each other.
Intimacy requires vulnerability. It is when we allow someone to see us – truly see us. It is about being truthful and completely honest about who we are. Vulnerability demands a lot of strength and courage – because we first need to see our own selves truthfully and then accept who we are as we are. Most people just like wearing masks and are afraid to be vulnerable. We all have weaknesses and fears … and we don’t want to feel hurt and abandoned. Our hearts are fragile.
Love peels us. We are like cinnamon, and every relationship peels yet another layer of our bark, taking us closer to our heart, our inner truth and our natural, most sweetest, scent.
Love peels us. When we’ve allowed someone completely into our life, we’ve merged with them; we’ve let go of boundaries and we’ve completely allowed them into ourselves. And it’s scary because once completely merged, would we lose ourselves?
Love, and anything we love, makes us think we are losing our identities sometimes but in that perceived loss is how we uncover who we are beneath the bark; when we peel the bark is when we see our naked heart.
When we allow ourselves to immerse completely in connections and be vulnerable, it will hurt when we separate.
But how can loving be anything other than everything?
Loving half way is not enough. It requires the whole of us if we want to experience it fully and truly. Because love is everything. Love is a sense of being – in good and bad, better or worse, happy or lemon-like. Love is not a feeling, not a moment, not a person – love is a sense of being, every minute, every day on our changing faces.
The way you experience love by yourself is how you will experience love with another person. Remember this. No other person can ever make you feel something you don’t already feel within yourself.
A lover peels us. Humbles us. A relationship forces us to take a hard look at ourselves and all our triggers, judgments, limitations and old belief systems – to let go of all false identities and masks once they come up to the surface, so that we can see ourselves more clearly.
And even if the relationship breaks apart and we separate, the connection would never be a failure or a loss – that person has helped us come closer to ourselves. This is what love does. Love peels layers and identities until we see our soul. Our partner brings us closer to who we truly are within.
Lovers meet when one has the courage to unveil their soul, and the other has the humility to surrender, unveiling theirs also.
True intimacy is reached when we unveil ourselves in our vulnerability – to show all of our layers and be exposed scared shitless but available for a real bonding. We never “lose” ourselves. In fact we find ourselves because of all those love peelers.
The most vulnerable thing we can do is allow another to be who they are in our presence – to just give them the safe space to be who they are without criticism and judgement. And that always, always starts from within ourselves and our ability to hold capacity for another.
It is a witnessing of the eyes.
It is deep listening.
Masks cannot fall in love.
Just trust and surrender.
Much Love & Peace,
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Cover Photography by Shelly Corbett.