As human beings, we all have an innate need to be close to someone. But sometimes the very thing we desire is the opposite of what we have. Some of us subconsciously sabotage the relationships we want because of our fear of intimacy. Sometimes we unknowingly and unwillingly drift apart because of our inability to engage in the delicate dance of intimacy. Others avoid intimacy altogether because the pain of past failures is too great.
Intimacy, physical and emotional closeness, is tough to navigate our way through. It takes skill, hard work and commitment. I wish I could tell you it is easy once you know how. True intimacy is tough to achieve, but who says the best gifts are easy to obtain? In all honesty, I am certainly no expert on how to maintain and nurture closeness, but I have learned 11 things that will definitely kill intimacy in a relationship.
Dishonesty and Silence. Intimacy requires honesty and openness. It only takes one lie to destroy the trust in a relationship. To be close to someone, we need to be able to share what is true and real about us. And we must be willing to hear someone else’s truth. Sometimes we think that it is best to not say anything at all if it means it may hurt our partner. So we silently hang on to our truth or share our truth with the wrong people. When we do this, there is no opportunity for the relationship to grow with integrity.
Lack of Trust. Sometimes there is no dishonesty in the relationship, but still a lack of trust exists. Perhaps healthy trust has never been a part of your life, or maybe a painful event in life has fractured your ability to trust. A person must heal from their past and base their decision to trust someone on the present actions of a person. Deem people trustworthy until proven otherwise.
Desire to Change People. True intimacy necessitates acceptance. Having acceptance of yourself and your partner is a powerful indicator of love. It doesn’t mean you have to like everything, but you need to let go of the need to change another person. When we lack acceptance of another person’s qualities, our tendency is to control. That control manifests itself in disapproving feelings, and sometimes even pressuring people to change. To feel close to another person, you must feel unconditionally accepted for who you are.
Inability to Express Your Needs and Feelings. Unfortunately we, as humans, do not have the power to read minds. Therefore, we have to rely on our partners to communicate with us and vice versa. It is each person’s responsibility to express their needs and feelings. By sharing who we are and what’s important to us, we significantly increase our chances of having our needs met. On the other hand, if we repress our needs and feelings, we shut the other person out of our world, and make intimacy impossible.
Not Listening. Communication is a two-way street. Many of us have no problem talking, but listening poses more of a challenge. Listening requires us to hear our partners with our heart. An added step to listening is acknowledging what we have heard. Are you really hearing your partner’s feelings and needs? Or are you thinking about how your partner is wrong or how you want to defend yourself? If your partner is constantly communicating the same need or feeling to you over and over, chances are you are not hearing your partner with your heart.
Self-Centeredness. The minute you decide to enter into a committed relationship, the moment self-centeredness becomes a thing of the past. Intimacy requires there to be a balance between self, the other person and the relationship. It’s not about just you anymore. You have to take the feelings and needs of the other person and the relationship into consideration. Decisions about money, routines, free time, children, time, etc. now have to include your partner’s input.
Lack of Respect. Chances are if you lack respect for your partner, your intimate life probably suffers. To respect means you hold a high opinion and highly value yourself or another person. You appreciate and show consideration for people. The closeness of intimacy needs a general feeling of respect for self and your partner. It also means you need to behave in a way that deserves respect. You cannot expect your partner to respect you if your actions do not warrant respect.
Imbalance of Power. There cannot be one person in a relationship that sees him or herself as more important than his or her partner. A relationship consists of two people with perceived equality. That doesn’t mean one person isn’t smarter, more knowledgeable about certain topics, or has greater strengths in certain areas. It means the difference is not highlighted, flaunted or disrespected. Having a balance of power requires each person to have equal say in a discussion. It means the needs and feelings of each person are equally important.
Unhealthy Arguments. All couples have disagreements. The intimacy in your relationship will suffer if you let your arguments get out of hand. Angry words, unresolved arguments, and inflicting emotional and physical pain will destroy intimacy. Couples that are close learn how to respectfully and healthily resolve their arguments.
Absence of Touch. Although physical intimacy is just a part of total intimacy, it is a very important part. If you don’t make a point to hug, kiss, and experience sexual intimacy, your level of intimacy will be affected. You can still be close, but touch adds extra feelings of warmth, safety and love.
Extreme Separateness. So many couples, after time, begin to live separate lives. Either their differences separate them or unawareness or lack of intention cause them to drift apart. Intimacy requires people to spend time together and share in each other’s life. A relationship is like a garden. You need to take the time to pull the weeds, fertilize and water the flowers. In other words, it requires time, love, and a commitment to keep the bad to a minimum.
If you want your relationship to be intimate, love and respect one another, do your best to meet one another’s needs, share your dreams and feelings, and avoid these eleven intimacy killers.