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The Intimacy Short Circuit

From 15 years to 1…

I’d been with my previous partner for close to 15 years. This article isn’t really about that relationship. I just mention it to illustrate how out of touch I am when it comes to new relationships. I expected my current partner to just “know” that I hate mushrooms, am a total neat freak, and sometimes, when I’m sad, I just need her to pat my head and tell me everything will be alright. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that Leah (my current partner) is in fact NOT a mind reader!

I took a lot for granted

Leaving my 15 year relationship was the right thing to do and I don’t regret that decision; however, I miss how easy things can be when you live with someone for so long. I could finish her sentences, presents were a cinch to buy, and she knew when a frown meant I was concentrating on a work problem as opposed to being distracted by the chaos unfolding in the living room between four dogs and two kids (my neat freak side is screaming!). I took it for granted that she knew me so well.p-cdc-couple

We had our own relationship “shorthand.” Things like, “Hey, are you done with this plate?” Which she knew meant, “Hey, I like having a neat house and it drives me crazy when plates are left out because the dogs will knock them off the coffee table. Then there will be crumbs all over the floor and probably shards of a broken plate. And I’m not even sure if you know where we keep the broom so I’ll be the one to clean it up and probably dog puke, too, because you know Alfie has a sensitive stomach…” It was nice not having to explain myself or see the invariable eye roll. Things were easy.

But were they really better?

There are limitations to “knowing” someone – anticipating their words, making quick assumptions about their facial expressions, and avoiding discussions because you “know” exactly how they’ll react. When you stop listening to the words your partner says and you ignore the growth and evolution of both your partner and the relationship, you lose a lot of your connection and intimacy. Connection and intimacy require openness and a willingness to continue exploring who each of you really are – your feelings, wants, needs, wounds, and how they change over time. It’s recognizing that you, your partner, and your relationship are not static. They change and evolve over time. When you go on the autopilot of “knowing,” you lose the ability to grow and evolve in your relationship.

Can you stop short circuiting intimacy?

Suddenly, when you find yourself in a new relationship, you’re confronted with the reality that you need to use your words to ask for what you want, explain what you’re thinking, and actually…gasp…listen to what your new partner says! It can be challenging especially if, like me, you’re out of practice. Plus, it’s so darn easy to slip into the lazy habit of “knowing” what someone will say and do. You avoid getting hurt by not being as open and vulnerable with your partner because truly listening and communicating can be painful. They could say “no,” they could reject you or push you away, or they could ask for something you don’t want to or can’t give them. So you short circuit connection and intimacy over time to protect yourself.

In my new relationship I came to the realization that I need to be fully awake and resist the urge to go back on autopilot. I’m doing the hard work now because the way I was listening and communicating in my last relationship was actually destroying the things I need the most – connection and intimacy.

If I want to keep the intimacy and connection alive in my new relationship, it means having tough conversations and being more vulnerable with my current partner. It means resisting the urge to “know” what she’s going to say and how she is going to react. It means opening my heart to discovering more about her, expecting both of us to grow, and recognizing the ever evolving landscape of our life together. It’s the only way to experience the richness of a life lived openly with a partner – to express love consciously, feel deeply connected, and enjoy soul sharing intimacy.

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