How to Overcome Obstacles to Intimacy
Updated: Jan 13
Responsibilities and demands of life.
Habits and patterns.
All of these things are potential obstacles to building intimacy when you're dating.
BUT INTIMACY IS A GENUINE LIFE-lONG NEED.
It's a need that is part of what defines us as human beings.
From the moment we're born until the moment we die, we yearn to be calmed, comforted, and reassured by someone who loves us. We feel connection and value when we give those things back.
When we lack a partner in intimacy, we do a lot of things to try to feel complete, content, happy, and whole… We chase achievements, experiences, people, pleasures, and possessions. But most people will be a bit under-fulfilled if they're seeking for shallow, artificial things in order to satiate the need for intimacy.
As you live your rich, lovely life -- keeping your eyes and ears open for the one who holds the promise of the ultimate form of love and connection -- you can find quite a lot of contentment in actively meeting your own emotional, intellectual, physical (sexual), and spiritual needs.
But do not close your eyes or shut your ears. Do not build walls that keep people away or lay trenches of habits that will remove you from opportunities.
Don't give up on having the ideal relationship -- the kind of relationship where you and your beloved are fulfilling not only your own but each other's needs!
If you've had some life experiences, you know the path to intimacy is paved with myriad fears that threaten our ability to obtain it. Connections rupture. Hurts occur. Most of the major tripping points on this journey to intimacy are related to notions of attachment and self-worth: What if my partner doesn’t want me? What if I show them who I am and they are repelled by me?
Closely related is the fear that if we express our needs and ask for them to be met, we’ll be rejected for having them. Your unconscious is asking, Can I rely on my partner? Will they come through? Will there be consistency? There may be times they deny your needs. That's not necessarily terrible. There may be times you're unable to meet theirs. Needs negotiation is a real relationship skill.
Many of the women we coach have been in relationships where they felt invisible and devalued – and they don’t ever want to disappear again. Yet, they are afraid that if they speak up for themselves, they’ll lose their partner’s love. Expressing a need feels perilous.
Some of us (especially avoidant-types) fear we will lose touch with who we are, with our individual identity and freedom: What if I feel smothered? What if I'm consumed? Then, once you go "all in" on the relationship… What if they leave me and I not only lose my relationship, but I lose my self? Who knew dating and relationships could raise such profound existential questions?!
Depending on the childhood wounds you experienced, this fear could even be expressed as, This relationship makes me feel ashamed of who I am, or I feel like my partner tries to control everything; I don't feel free to express my inner self without being judged or criticized. Integrity with one self starts to erode and that's dangerous for a relationship. If any abuse or betrayal has occurred, you may have even thought to yourself, If I stay with this person, I won’t respect myself – and I’ll lose face with my friends and family.
One of the most enduring obstacles to intimacy is the feeling of worthlessness that many competent (and otherwise confident) adults possess. When a child who never quite seemed to acquire a parent’s unconditional love grows up and enters an adult relationship, they may feel unworthy without being consciously aware of that programming running in the background.
Ironically, some women fear that if they are “too” successful outside the relationship (well-promoted, well-paid, or too powerful) that their partner might not accept them and could take their love away. It’s not uncommon that some of the most high-functioning, professionally successful people I work with will admit they feel somewhat lost when it comes to relationship skills!
Do any of those resonate with you?
The value of the things we do inside a relationship should be measured by how it impacts and supports our essential human purpose of achieving intimacy. Does it uplift us? Does it uplift our partners?
Surprisingly, feelings are not the best way to measure intimacy since they’re inconsistent and unreliable. Warm, fuzzy feelings are a delicious side-effect of having intimacy but they aren’t necessarily proof of intimacy.
That’s why we shouldn’t put feelings in charge of our actions and decisions. We shouldn't put feelings ahead of our standards.
When our values and standards are empowered and wise, we can create the kinds of habits and take the kinds of actions that lead to lasting love and intimacy.
When we're wrapped in this kind of love and creating healthy intimacy, we can become the best and highest version of ourselves.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings about this article. If you'd care to share, I'm at email@example.com