1. Emotional Intimacy is the goal, not a hot orgasm.
Often times we forget that there is something called getting to know one another before we hop right into commitment land. And when I say, “getting to know one another,” most automatically assume that I mean the things that make a person tick or what are his her mommy issues. But what I mean by getting to know someone, or in other words emotional intimacy, is getting to know your partner’s emotional fabric that will eventually integrate into your daily life and relational interactions. This information lives in the encoding of our emotional and relational scripts. What does it look like when you feel insecure? What do you do when you are responsible for immature behavior? Do you take responsibility when you are wrong? How do you support people when they’re hurting? When we know our partner’s answers to questions like these we have the ability to create safety. Safety, Isaac? Yes! Understanding that your partner is your relational partner, that he or she is willing to be vulnerable and put in the work, means that we can rest knowing we both have what it takes to make this thing work! And when we feel sure we also feel safe. Sadly, most of us jump from understanding his or her favorite color into the sack. When we feel isolated, forgotten, scared, hurt, or ignored we get angry. Often times when we make this jump, as we watch emotional intimacy rest peacefully beneath our feet, we skip out on the sustainable parts. We then wonder why our relationships keep falling apart or why we keep picking emotional losers. Treat yourself well and get to know your partner from the inside out. Trust me, it’ll save you some serious time and energy.
2. Unconditional Acceptance vs. Criticism.
Criticism is something I know all too well, unfortunately. But when we walk into a relationship thinking that we can “love him into shape” or that “she will grow out of this,” we set our selves up for a lifelong battle and imminent resentment. Trust me, you don’t want to resent your partner for not becoming the person they never knew you wanted them to be. You’ll be rather embarrassed, if of course you can see past your mistake. Unconditional acceptance is a matter to question even before you circle the “Y” on that love letter. Love is based on accepting who the person was before you met him or her. Thinking that your love is strong enough to change someone will leave you watching the boat of happy couples sail right in front of your eyes. When you think of that special him or her, ask yourself if you appreciate what you know so far. If the answer is positive, sign up for one more day. Collect all the data you need. If the answer starts to look a little too bleak, then take a step back and put on your work boots; this is where the rubber hits the road.
3. Practice Trusting without the need to run in fear.
We all come into relationships with significant gouges taken out of innocent exterior. Walking into a new relationship feels like giving your treasure to a stranger on the train, needing the bathroom, and asking them to be there when you get back. We feel the threat of being heard and rejected, seen and then abandoned, understood and the treated like we have to work to keep their attention. As we experience even the slightest threat of denial we speculate and run for the hills. Yikes! How, ever, do we make these things called relationships work? I say start small. When you can trust someone with a little secret, a small expression of fear, or a matter that is mildly embarrassing, you’re off to a good start. If they respond to your vulnerability well, your first run at practicing trust has set you off on a good foot! As you continue to practice, with bigger fears, deeper wounds, and frightening details observe how they respond. Remember, you deserve respect, to be supported, and to have safety in your relationships. After all, you want to be there for a very long time, right?