Wednesday 26 August 2015

Thoughts on Intimacy, Part I/3 - Mismatched Expectations

Because we are all unique, we each enter relationships with different expectations of intimacy.

If you find yourself constantly trying to get emotionally closer, but your partner seems to be doing everything in their power to sabotage your efforts, it could be that you are mismatched in your expectations.

Conversely, the same may be true if you find your partner's attentions make you claustrophobic.

Closing the gap in your expectations regarding intimacy is extremely important if you are to forge a lasting union.

Levels of Intimacy (Clint Eastwood versus the Stalker): 

Everyone's comfort zone is different. Some people get uncomfortable if they are hugged. Others want to know their partner's every thought; aspiring to think and feel as one. There is no "correct" degree of intimacy, but if you are too unevenly matched, you will have your work cut out for you in bridging the gap. Intimacy-cravers will feel empty if coupled with stoic utilitarians, while strong-silent types will feel continually embarrassed and badgered by hopeless romantics.

If your partner's needs are too different from your own, it's difficult not to feel resentment at their efforts to get closer, or maintain emotional distance. Resentment needs to be resolved because it will damage you and your relationship. One way to dissolve resentment is to empathize with your partner by seeing their point of view. Try imagining those in other positions on the intimacy scale.

Let's say that you are a romantic expecting a high degree of emotional connection. In order to empathize with a reluctant partner, it's a good exercise to think about someone even higher on the scale than you and imagine what they might demand of you, and how claustrophobic that could feel. That might be what your partner currently feels. And yet, no one is wrong. Your imaginary clingy-smotherer is not wrong for wanting to connect so closely. You are not wrong for feeling like you have a stalker and wanting a little more emotional space.

Similarly, your partner is not wrong for not shouting "I love you!" in Times Square, or for not kissing you in public.

No one is wrong. There is no more reason for them to change, than for you.
There is no reason for resentment.

However, the larger the gap, the more difficult the challenge of building a bridge.


CLICK HERE FOR PART 2: Wandering Partners



The point of view, at one extreme end of the intimacy scale.


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