Both men and women have myths about intimacy. Myths are just that — fairy tales, fabrications. They have a hint of truth but seldom hold up to close scrutiny. Perhaps you have lived with certain dark intimacy myths in the past that now must be exposed to the light of truth. As you now come out of hiding, let’s shatter a few of these myths that may have restricted your growth with unrealistic expectations.
1. You need to be a mind reader. Nothing is further from the truth. Intimacy is not a mind game. It’s about honesty and openness. The greatest thrill comes when you and another person begin to honestly share yourselves with each other.
2. I can treat you any way I wish. No one has the right to treat another person as he or she wishes. Perhaps this is what has happened to you in the past, and you have equated past hurt with intimacy. This is emotional abuse, pure and simple. Regard it as such.
3. Give me a minute, and I can fix you. We don’t need handyman relationships. It’s neither our job nor our privilege to fix people or their problems. More lasting results will come about from openness and honesty than from manipulation and looking for what’s wrong so we can fix it.
4. Caring is a feeling. If this is true, then when you stop caring, the relationship, by definition, must come to an end. When you reach out to a friend or colleague, you do it because that person is your friend, and you reach out whether or not you feel anything. Feelings are nice but they are not the material of which great relationships are made.
5. You’ve got to spill your guts. This is probably one of the greatest myths of all. The most vibrant relationships are often the quiet ones — walking together on a beach, going to a concert, having a cup of coffee together, or enjoying a simple conversation. There are no “have to’s” in a relationship with true intimacy. If anything, shoulds and musts will dampen the growth of your friendships quicker than anything else.
6. It’s got to be a good relationship all the time. This myth is what out-of-touch-with-reality B movies are made of. You live in the real world, and that means you, your friends, and your relationships will be flawed. Nothing in this life of hills and valleys will stay good all the time. Your relationships must simply be allowed to be. What you see is what you get. Openness, honesty, and intimacy need to be unconditional, for this is the only brand of caring that will bring health and growth to your relationships.
An intimate relationship is one in which there is emotional safety, when you feel understood, accepted, and affirmed. You allow yourself to be vulnerable without the fear that the other person will misuse your trust to hurt you. In this kind of a relationship, you can grow emotionally and spiritually.
SOURCE: Chapter 4: “Forgiveness” in How to De-Stress Your Life by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.
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