Tag Archives: partners

5 Tips to Deepen Intimacy in Your Relationships

innersexyDeep connections, quality relationships – the experience of feeling seen, heard and understood brings us the greatest joy in life. Here are 5 tips to deepen intimacy in any relationship – a friendship, family or love relationship.

1. Ask for Help (sooner than you want)

Our attachments and intimacy with others are bred through our vulnerabilities.

The meeting of our vulnerabilities is the sweet spot. This is where we have the ability to truly see one another. The experience of being seen and seeing is called mirroring. Psychologically, it is the bridge of intimacy and forges a strong bond (attachment) – knowing someone else will accept and be there for you, even (especially) in your weakest moments.

Take a risk of to be vulnerable and open yourself up to share from the heart. What is happening under the surface of your life and the veneer of your persona? Tell your partner if you’re sad, afraid, hurt or emotional. Practice staying authentic and articulate about your emotional state and ask for understanding, tenderness or help.

2. Let Your Partner Take the Lead

In relationships we tend focus on ourselves and assume that our needs are more important than our partners.

Flip it. Just for this month, practice allowing your partner’s needs to take priority. What if their needs are just as (or more) important than your own?

Self-abandonment is not what I am suggesting. Assuming you have healthy boundaries, attune to what your partner wants or needs. Ask them. Let your partner take the lead. Where do they want to go to dinner? Where do they want to go on vacation? What do they want to do this weekend?

This is a Buddhist/yogic concept of expanding the definition of who you are to include the ‘other’. Widening our perception of Self to include another breeds understanding and union. Instead of using a relationship or looking at our partners as a means to meet our needs – we elevate into a selfless, giving, generous approach. Much like building a successful business or any join venture, ask:

  • “How can I help you?” 
  • “How can I give more?” 
  • “What do you need and how can I serve?”

3. Set a Daily Check in with Your Partner

Set aside 10-20 min. a day to tune in to each other in full presence (no cell phones or TV, please). A great time to do this is at night. Take 10 minutes each to reflect on the day. Listen athletically to each other and offer support or feedback. When you can manage, try to go to bed at the same time, cuddle and reflect out loud – What went well? What was disappointing or frustrating? What do you intend to create for the next day?

Practice gratitude together. Get in the habit of reflecting the positive and holding each other in positive regard so you mirror back to your partner their positive attributes. Encouragement and support changes our biochemistry. Consistency in authentic connection is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Commit to a daily check in.

4. Show Up with Fresh Eyes

See your partner anew. We evolve and change constantly. Our hopes, dreams and skills shift. When we’re in relationship, it’s tempting to view our partner through an old, outdated perspective – who they were, how they acted or what they wanted before. Give your man (or woman) the space, just like a child, to shape shift, change, learn and grow. Tune into them – ask them “Where are you at today?”  “What are you feeling/wanting/dreaming of?”

Try silently observing and allowing them to show you who they are. Open your eyes and your mind. This creates more spaciousness to feel held and supported in who we are authentically – today. Let yourself be surprised. Seek to learn something NEW about your partner everyday.

5. Breed Affection

Bring more affection into your relationship. After years of listening to couples in therapy, I can tell you – it’s often (if not, usually) the smallest things that end up fracturing and eroding a relationship. Know the little things that your partner needs, wants or delights in.

  • How can you show random acts of kindness?
  • How can you be more affectionate?
  • How can you sweetly surprise them and bring a smile to their face?

Gentle touches, thinking what they might want from the grocery store or reaching out sending them a text or a note at work in support go a long way in building a foundation and reservoir of love.

Leave a comment and share – how do you deepen intimacy in relationships with those around you?

Embrace Your Sexual Fantasies for More Honest Living

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 12.22.26 PMBy Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW 

In my 35 years as a practicing psychotherapist and sex therapist, I have treated hundreds of men and women of all ages and stages in life– both heterosexual and homosexual– whose problems have included depression, anxiety, early child sexual abuse, addictions of every kind and relationship and sexual problems. In all those years only a handful of patients have chosen to share their sexual fantasies with me.  And in daring to do so, what they were all looking for was my reassurance that it was ok to fantasize and that their fantasies were “normal.” In retrospect, this is an area that I should have explored more thoroughly with all of my patients. And indeed, this is a topic that most of us (whether we are in therapy or not) should not be afraid to explore, as we seek to have richer and more fulfilling sex lives.

Children’s natural curiosity and their openness to the world around them allows them to have creative fantasies as they attempt to understand and make sense of the world.  As we develop and mature sexually, we all begin to fantasize about what it must feel like to fall in love, be in love, experience that first kiss and have sex. We all remember our first crush and that ‘feeling’ that gave us butterflies in our stomach. As a child I too was mesmerized by movies about love and sex and devoured romance novels and magazines, which only served to further activate my already active sexual fantasy life. As an adult, I read Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden which became an instant classic and one of the only books available at that time that enabled women to pursue and enjoy their sexual fantasies. These days, adolescent girls and boys, especially when talking among themselves, are very open and honest about their sex lives and sexual fantasies.

I have observed that as adults begin to form more permanent love relationships, the topic of sexual fantasies wane. In fact most adults are apt to repress their sexual fantasies as ‘life’ takes over.  And we can all attest to the fact that talking about sexual fantasies is unlikely to be dinnertime conversation among adults. And yet we all have fantasies, sexual and otherwise.

In writing this piece I want to give people permission to fully explore their deepest sexual fantasies with themselves and with their partners. I also needed to acknowledge to myself that although I have always had a rich sexual fantasy life, I too rarely shared these fantasies with anyone for fear of embarrassment.  Fortunately, today I am in a relationship where I am able to not only talk about these fantasies, but to act them out as well, if I so desire.

I encourage you to take whatever steps you need to take to free yourself mentally and sexually.   Tell yourself that from this day forward you will no longer repress, suppress, deny or avoid enjoying your sexual fantasies to the fullest as long as these fantasies aren’t acted out in a way that will be hurtful to you or others.

I wish you a successful and sexually charged fantasy life.

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Beatty is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, co-author of For Better, For Worse, Forever:  Discover the Path to Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker and national radio and television expert guest.  She currently hosts a live ASK BEATTY radio show on the Progressive Radio Network in New York City and has a private practice in New York City and Sarasota, Florida.

Are You In Relationship With Your Partner’s Potential?

3 Ways to Keep the Love Flame BurningDid you get into your relationship thinking you could “fix” those few things that you didn’t like about your partner? Do you find yourself seeing your partner as they could be and miss who they actually are? Do you feel they aren’t living into their potential or do you compare them to your idealized version of them?

This kind of behavior can be really toxic in relationships, and I have found many of my clients bring this up, so I thought I’d share some points of insight for you to consider:

People can usually feel when you don’t fully accept them as they are. On the other hand, being with someone who is in full acceptance of who you are is one of the most healing things we can offer one another.

“But if I accept them as they are then they’ll never change” our minds tend to say. What I have found is quite the opposite. As we come into relationship with the one we are actually with, not an image of who we want them to be, a deeper experience of connection is available. Coming from this place of acceptance first, we are available to make more effective changes in the relationship (if we still want change that is) because we are neutral within ourselves and move from a place of wholeness.

There are going to be things that work for you in the relationship and other things that don’t. I’m not suggesting you to be a doormat and ignore what’s true for you. I’m inviting a different approach that may actually be more successful and fulfilling.

What if you were able to actually meet your partner with full acceptance of where things are for the both of you right now? In that intimate connection of fully accepting how they are, how you are, and where the relationship is, from here see if there are still things you want to share or not.

I don’t mean to fake this acceptance because that’s also felt and won’t offer true healing. I am speaking of an acceptance that arises out of our humility to truly recognize that we don’t know that it would be better if they only changed. These judgments are an opportunity to use the relationship as a teacher. To learn about yourself through it by recognizing your partner as your own mirror and looking at what unresolved material this situation is pointing at within yourself. What part of yourself are you not fully accepting? Is there a part of you that you have denied, repressed, or not owned?

As long as we’re trying to make our partner into something different, we’re in relationship with an image of who we want them to be, continuously getting disappointed and never truly meeting one another.

What if for a moment you met your partner with complete and authentic acceptance? Without necessarily sharing with them that you’re trying this out, see what happens in him or her when you shift the way you see them inside yourself. Instead of thinking of ways to change them, see if you can discover who they are beyond your stories about them, as if you’ve just met them for the first time in this very moment. See if you can stay in a space of discovery, of wonder.

What is it like to fully and intimately be with them as they are now? See if you can notice what opens up…

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” -Carl Rogers

Enjoy the discovery.

* * *

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Coloring Your Fifty Shades of Love

As Valentine’s Day approaches hearts turn to notions of romantic love. But, as shown in Fifty Shades of Gray, love doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and there are at least as many shades of love as there are people in the world. In the Middle Ages the art of courtly love became popular. Knights became infatuated with maidens and went off to battle with their beloved in mind. That love often remained Platonic and never breached the doors of any bedroom. Today, as society seems obsessed with relationships and falling in love, it seems our identity is defined by whether we’re in love or not, with whom, for how long and if we plan to marry, separate, divorce or have an affair.  But more and more people who are on a spiritual path are seeking also that their relationships hold a spiritual essence. Relationships can become a way of consciously growing and expanding. Hearts for Valentines

In partnership we often find that the person in front of us mirrors some aspect of ourselves back to us. If it’s an aspect we love then we’re happy. On the other hand if it’s an aspect that we dislike, we turn on our partner and berate him or her, grow angry, frustrated and try to kill the demon by attaching our loved one. If we’re lucky our partner works with us to help us face our weaknesses and gently support us to grow into a better person.

In relationships, more than most any other realm, we are tested to discover who we really our. The ways we choose to love and accept others tells a lot about how we love and accept ourselves. Love, at its best, encompasses many more tones and hues beyond the romantic shade that’s so touted at the beginning of a relationship. It extends to include compassion, acceptance, tolerance. If we’re lucky and very conscious it can even grow into unconditional love. The many shades of love we discover are as vast and as varied as the human race. By waking up and relating with awareness our love can become like a rainbow and include a broad palette of tones to enrich our lives. As you go through the days consider the kinds of love you experience. There’s love for things like chocolate (one of my favs). There are many kinds of love for people — friends, family, colleagues, children. There’s love for pets and nature. Pay attention to how you love and if you feel inspired to play, create a drawing or painting to express your love through colors.

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at Awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook

Seeing With The Eyes Of The Heart

 

 

 

Thursday, May 19th

 

Seeing With The Eyes of The Heart

 

 

 

“If we are to be true partners with God, we must learn to see with the eyes of God -— that is, to see with eyes of the heart and not just the eyes of the head.  The eyes of the heart are not concerned with appearances but with essences, and as we cultivate these eyes we are able to learn from our suffering and to see the world with more loving, forgiving, humble, generous eyes.” – God Has A Dream by Desmond Tutu

Steve Farrell

Humanity’s Team World Wide Coordinating Director

 

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