Love

How Vulnerability And Affection Are Essential To Great Emotional Intimacy

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couple on bike together having fun

With all the mystery of a tiny seed, emotional intimacy encloses you and your beloved into the smallest of spaces. There the two of you, defying the mathematical logic of one plus one, inexplicably become the power of one.

From the power seeded within emotional intimacy, a new universe erupts as the oneness of you and your beloved becomes the oneness of a family, community, humanity, life, and nature.

Under the influence of the intoxicating power of emotional intimacy, affection grows, desires are ignited, and dreams rule reality.

In the close, cozy space of emotional intimacy, sensuality is amplified. You and your beloved suddenly discover you have no need for words or communication technologies.

Your receptivity to one another unleashes the primordial power latent within the silence of a gesture, a glance of the eyes, or the tender touch of the hand.

Transcending space and time, the power of emotional intimacy transports you and your beloved to somewhere neither of you has ever been before and never want to leave again.

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Emotional intimacy is not a choice.

Nature demands that we, along with atoms, planets, plants, and other living systems, interact with one another without being disintegrated. If we are to get from the emotional strain caused by the chaotic commotion of meeting someone special, to the emotional coherence of one love, integrity is of the utmost importance.

However, although our resistance to disintegration is strong, the intensity of our emotions is profound.

The life of a rock is all resistance, no intimacy, and thus not much of a life. Intimacy matters because the power of oneness is an emotional matter. Emotions let us know that resistance is not enough; urgent action is needed now.

To live a life that is better than the resistance of a rock, you and your beloved have to take on the most challenging and daring lesson taught in the hard school of life: how to achieve emotional intimacy.

Lesson one: learn how to lower your resistance to being disintegrated without losing your integrity, and learn how to increase your vulnerability without being naïve.

The fact that striving for emotional intimacy is risky belies the madness in how we willingly lower our resistance to being disintegrated and make ourselves emotionally vulnerable to someone we may not know that well but strikes us as special.

Tossed up into the dizzying heights of romance, you, in your state of madness, invite your special stranger to climb up and walk with you across the emotional tightrope that leads to emotional intimacy.

Each step of the way is a delicate balance. Both of you striving to find the right ratio of resistance to trust that keeps you both balanced and moving closer to emotional intimacy. Herein lie the thrills and perils of emotional intimacy.

The perils of emotional intimacy are many, none the least of which is deception. On the sensitivity front, the power of emotional intimacy, with its ever-so-subtle communications, makes us easy targets of deception.

Indeed, we all deceive ourselves when our affection for and desire for affection from someone we deem special, does not share the same affectionate desire for or from us.

Painful as that rejection is, we all get over it and continue our quest to find someone who possesses a genuine mutual affection for us.

Affection for another also makes us susceptible to deceptive tactics like those used by a narcissist. A narcissist is incapable of genuine affection but an expert at deceptive affectations.

As an exhibitionist, narcissists constantly needs you to pay attention and admire them, but utterly lack the ability to care and thus be committed to achieving emotional intimacy with you.

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Blinded by their own grandiosity, narcissists only know how to use the subtlety of communications to make you feel bad, turn the tables on you when things go wrong, and blame you for failing to miraculously heal the blind.

A narcissist will never change, which is problematic because the oneness of emotional intimacy not only demands change, it demands a mutation.

The oneness of emotional intimacy is a mutation caused by a mutual effort. Daring and courageous, the mutual trust needed to take the first step on that emotional tightrope goes a long way.

The word “mutual” has its origins in a Latin word meaning “to mutate,” and thus establishing a mutual trust mutates you and your special someone as the two of you become one in the mutual work of emotional intimacy.

Operating as one, the work of emotional intimacy sets the stage for other mutations.

The work of emotional intimacy leads to a mutual heightening of an interpersonal sensitivity to the status of your oneness.

Similarly, there is the mutual development of an acute receptivity to nonverbal (gestures, looks, sounds) communications relevant to maintaining emotional balance.

As interpersonal sensitivity and receptivity become more refined, the perils of walking across that emotional tightrope diminish and your success in achieving the oneness of emotional intimacy is at hand.

To succeed in life, you have to succeed in emotional intimacy.

There is no “one size fits all” formula for achieving emotional intimacy. Every journey is a unique collaboration; a continuous work in progress in which you and your special someone feel your way to the oneness of emotional intimacy.

However, mutual strivings based on mutual feelings begs the question; how do you and your beloved know if you are on the right path to emotional intimacy? Here are some suggestions.

Mutual caring is a necessary condition, and often the starting point for building emotional intimacy. Feelings of affection should manifest in expressions of affection.

Verbal expressions are important but actions always speak louder than words. Ask yourself and your partner how the affection you share for one another shows up in your everyday interactions.

Mutual commitment to striving for the oneness of emotional intimacy develops from the affectionate caring for one another and fortifies your oneness, even in times when the ratio of resistance to trust is less than optimal and puts a strain on your relationship.

Mutual sincerity of the effort you and your beloved put into striving together to become one is essential to achieving emotional intimacy. A sincere effort comes from the depths of your heart and its genuineness bars deception from your relationship, and thus reinforces the trust you and your beloved have in one another.

Mutual recognition and gratitude for the effort, work, and support you and your special someone put into building and maintaining your oneness is an expression of an “I am so happy and grateful that we are one.” It is a manifestation of the strong binding force reciprocally exchanged between you and your beloved within the tiny nuclear space of your emotional intimacy.

Achieving emotional intimacy is transformative.

It is what turns having sex into making love, and expands the domain of making love from the bedroom pleasures of the flesh to the psychological intimacy of verbal and nonverbal communications over morning coffee, dinner, cuddling on the couch, or holding hands walking down the street.

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Stephen J Almada, Ed.D. Health Psychologist and author of "Exercise, Life, and Love: The Making of a Sedentary Society." For more information on achieving emotional intimacy, visit to www.hsichicago.org.

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