INTIMACY 101

With whom are you sharing your deepest secrets?  Your spouse, your best friend, your secret chatroom lover?  It’s impossible to live without a confidante.

For those in a stable relationship, the obvious choice is the partner.  But can partners really support you?  Or, will they recoil in contempt when it is revealed you are not perfect?

Unconditional love has been touted as the hallmark of an evolved relationship, but how many actually have it?  When confronted with the unthinkable, most people tend to assume the role of injured party, as if the secret knowledge is a threat to their security.  “How could you do this to me?”  “Look what you’ve done to us!”  Is it any wonder that, if given the chance to be shamelessly honest, we clam up instead?

It’s unnerving to know the foibles of one’s partner.  Our reactions to their confession reveal more about who we are than who they are.  The very worst in ourselves is reflected back and that can be shocking.  Have we come into relationships with high expectations, assuming we will be nurtured and protected?  If so, that’s not much different than a parent/child relationship.   We might all be frightened children inside, but nobody wants to admit it, especially to a partner who has the same dynamic. 

More often, we confide in friends.  They are not as vested and therefore not as likely to come unglued.  But such arrangement diverts emotional intimacy from the primary to secondary relationships.   The news is filled with stories of couples breaking up over extramarital emotional affairs.   The jilted party contends, and perhaps rightly so, that both emotional and physical bodies are subject to the constraints of monogamy.  If this is correct, then couples who are trapped by their own expectations and cannot be honest with each other are doomed.  With no outlet either within or without, the relationship will implode. 

It’s easy to lay the blame for our own failures on somebody else.   It’s damn hard work to face one’s self and shoulder the burden.  Given the choice, what would you do?

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