Ask—and answer—these 10 questions to get more connected with your partner.
I view intimacy as a defining trait of humanity; it’s how we share our innermost worlds. Because of how highly social we are, we need insane amounts of intimacy to keep our relationships together. And the deeper our bonds of intimacy, the more we are connected to our families and communities. When those bonds weaken, our families and communities fly apart.
For such an important thing as intimacy, we’ve been taught surprisingly little about how it works and what goes to make it. So, I’ve come up with some questions that will help you to determine the best ways to increase intimacy in your relationships.
1– Is this in my best interest? Is this in the best interest of my family and children? Is this in the best interest of my future?
2– Am I doing the best that I can do in this moment and in this relationship? Am I learning more about what I have to offer through this relationship? Am I freer to give of myself through this relationship?
3– Am I committing more to the person I’m with or the feeling I get through that person? If I couldn’t feel anything from this person, would their actions alone be worth sticking around for?
Intimacy is less of a feeling and more of an action. The amazing feelings that accompany intimacy are driven by a person’s actions. So, if you aren’t routinely baring your innermost in a relationship, the feelings will fade. (Innermost is intimacy’s Latin route)
4– Is the way I’m relating to my partner helping to strengthen my human connection? Do I sacrifice connection with my family, friends or my community to maintain relations with my partner?
The only thing we’re asked to sacrifice in relationships is fleeting pleasures, and that is only so we can build lasting happiness. If your relationships are reducing your connection with family, friends and community, please reconsider your motives.
5– Am I living in transcendent happiness or conditional pleasure? Am I dependent 0n my partner for happiness? Do I find myself wishing my partner would change to accommodate my desires?
If you become dependent on others for your happiness, they will let you down and you will blame them; conditional romance has a negative impact on intimacy. If you are dependent on yourself for happiness, you can appreciate the treasures that others bring into your life while always having control of your outcome.
6– Am I freer to love and thrive through my sexuality? Have I gone against my own intuition to achieve sexual gratification? Do I battle uncertainty and unease when it comes to my sexual relationships?
Sexual relationships aren’t the place for uncertainty and insecurity. Sexual relationships lead to the creation of new life, which has profound need for certainty and security. Sexual relationships are highly bonding, so make sure your bond is with a person of incredible character and virtue*. (*If you want to be happy.)
I know, this has not-so-subtle undertones of responsibility and obligation (gasp). We have been taught to run from sexual responsibility so that we can invest heavily in the passing pleasure that ultimately destroys our happiness. To me, that idea is passé. It doesn’t serve us, so I choose to move on and embrace the freedom of responsibility.
7– Are my relationships strengthening my community or are they weakening it? Am I brought closer to my community and the ones I love through my romantic relationships?
8– Do I believe that humans have a right to lasting happiness and fulfillment in relationships? If so, do I feel like I’m capable? If I don’t feel capable, what things could I do to change that? If I don’t believe in such a right, how might my family history have shaped that belief? How might my culture have shaped that belief?
9– How can I plan to maximize my success in relationships? What beliefs and practices must I engage in to provide my best self to the relationships I desire? What important areas have I overlooked when it comes to my success in relationships?
Just like anything else as a human being, relationship success requires planning. If you aren’t actively setting and achieving goals with your partner, you are passively awaiting the dissolution of your relationship.
Some common areas that people overlook when entering and engaging in relationships are many of these questions that you’ve reviewed. Another important area is family history: What is their family like? How do they get along? More importantly, what is your family like? What embedded patterns might you have to overcome to achieve freedom and success in your relationships?
Am I free to sustain a committed and happy relationship, or, am I bound to conditional pleasure? If I am bound to conditional pleasure, how can I free myself? What are some indicators of freedom and happiness in relationships?
One important indicator is Sexual Freedom. People who are free sexually are people who don’t have to worry about any part of their sexuality. People who are free sexually are clear of any worries. They have no concept of ‘Pregnancy Scare’, because they embrace and respect their procreative capacity. They are free to love fearlessly and courageously with their bodies, and that doesn’t happen by accident.
*Important to note is that freedom as a human is brought about by planning. If you don’t plan extensively for your relationships, you will be bound to unintended consequences like: unplanned children, diminishing intimacy, guilt at wishing your partner would change, waning commitment, etc.
Intimacy is the most important part of freedom in relationships, so, let’s take a closer look at it.
For a working definition, intimacy is the closeness that keeps relationships, families and communities together. Incredibly, real intimacy is something that you plan for and it can permeate every aspect of our lives, not just our sexuality. There are certain factors that you have to build and maintain to achieve intimacy, especially in sexual relationships. If you neglect those areas, you will falter and search for intimacy’s counterfeit in the arms of people you do not know.
Intimacy requires trust, respect, admiration, edification, humility and growth. In order to be intimate with someone, you have to be comfortable. But, just because you are comfortable with someone doesn’t mean you are intimate.
People lose intimacy in their relationships when they become frustrated and agitated at all of the ways the feel toward their partner. It is impossible to feel comfortable around someone whom you are routinely angry at, bored with, frustrated at, disappointed by, etc. And, if you aren’t comfortable, you cannot be intimate.
Two Options, One Solution
There are two options at the point of decreased intimacy, but only one real solution. One option is to dismiss the importance of the relationship and seek out comfort in someone you know nothing about. This is labeled as an option because it is not the solution.
Choosing this option will perpetuate the cycle, leading to more loss of intimacy and more broken relationships. It is destructive to relationships, which is destructive to families and the community. You can change your definition of brokenness or failure, which many people do. Or, you can choose a solution.
The solution is to regard your spouse as the mirror to your deepest inner world. When you do this, you realize that it is not them you are angry with or disappointed by, but only yourself. When you do this, you feel no guilt at wishing the other person to change, but only empowerment to change the situation yourself. The thoughts go from, “What can they do?” to “What can I do?” With the first thought, you are helpless and hopeless. With the second, you are in control and in charge of your feelings and destiny.
Angry? Annoyed? Disappointed? Bored? Frustrated? Infuriated? How much better is it to be in charge of changing those emotions, rather than waiting for someone to change to accommodate you? How much more intimate can you be with someone who you regard as the key to your growth? How much more imitate can you be with someone who helps you become the man or woman you are capable of being? How much greater can intimacy be when both partners are able to express their emotions freely without fear of rejection or attack? How you respond to these feelings determines your level of intimacy.
This is why humility, trust, respect, admiration and growth are so critical to intimacy. Without them, there is no freedom or comfort to express your deepest self. After all, the word intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus, which means: inmost, innermost. Now it is easy to see what intimacy’s counterfeit is. If it isn’t the inmost or innermost, it is not intimacy.
My simplest advice for increasing intimacy: Question your emotions. Rather than blindly accepting the fact that someone else is making you feel a certain way, ask, “Is this feeling a reflection of something inside of me?” If that feeling does stem from your inner world, you would never know if you didn’t ask the question first. If you do ask the question, you are the one who has the power to answer it and change it.
If you ask these questions for yourself and your relationships, you will be taking direct responsibility for the intimacy in your life. When you ask these questions, you, your relationships, your family and your community will all come out with a big win.
Originally published on DowlingWriter.com.