Most of us believe that we want to have a loving and intimate relationship with a significant other. But we may not realize what that actually means. We may not be ready to deal with and reveal our own inner demons, those parts of our self that cause us to feel hurt, insecure, ashamed and embarrassed. We may not be willing to accept those insecurities and unpleasant personality traits and actions in our so-called intimate partner. We may prefer to live in the illusion that there is someone out there so strong and powerful and emotionally present that we don't need to be anything but the same self we have always been and we will be loved forever.

After several decades of listening to clients, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, I have learned that:
• Intimacy, true intimacy, may be the most difficult life task and the most rewarding
• Many of us feel insecure about the appearance and functioning of our body
• Most of us do not fit the media standards of male or female youthful beauty and strength
• We cannot find the ideal partner to fulfill our dreams; we need to become our own ideal
• Marriage does not inevitably lead to loss of sexual desire, excitement, and passion
Aging does not mean the end sexual desire, sexual attractiveness, and sexual behavior

Many, many, many people have discovered their passion, for the very first time, in the long term commitment of marriage or in the later stages of life within a new and exciting relationship. In fact, many married couples continue to have passionate and pleasurable sex with their lifetime mate into their golden years. The excitement and ongoing passion emerges when we feel seen and known and acknowledged as the fully alive man or woman that we are.

Intimacy does not always include sexual contact or even any form of touch. We can be verbally intimate with a total stranger when we reveal out deepest fears and desires and needs. But that is fleeting and momentary intimacy that does not last. Just as many of us have experienced moments of pure love, moments of pure ecstasy, moments of religious luminosity, we would not claim to be living in a continual state of love, ecstasy or religious enlightenment. Lasting intimacy occurs over time as we reveal our self, over and over and over again regardless of the responses we may receive in the moment, trusting and knowing that we are seeing and being seen by another.

Sexual contact does not insure intimacy. In fact, very often the mere act of sexual contact interferes with the potential for true intimacy. When our hormones are stimulated, we may become aggressive, clingy, self-absorbed, or detached from the potential relationship available with another person. Watching pornography can bring a sense of heightened arousal and sexual release without intimate contact or connection with anyone at all.

However, sexuality is not a separate part of our life, apart from the sensations in our body, the feelings in our heart, and the thoughts in our mind. Our sexuality expresses who we are, the culmination of our life experiences and our bodily memories. Sexuality does not first appear at puberty or adolescence or adulthood, as the media often suggests. Our sexuality is with us from the moment of conception, and perhaps even earlier in our mother's womb, and it remains with us until the very end of our life. Male fetuses actually have erections in the womb and little girls' vaginas lubricate during sleep.

Popular womens' and mens' magazines would have us believe that the way to any man or woman's heart is through sexual prowess and skill. There are even courses that teach a variety of techniques "guaranteed" to drive a man or woman wild in bed.

Rarely does the media teach us how to handle the shyness and even shame so many of us feel or the difficulty many of us have connecting with potential sexual partners. We rarely hear about the fear of rejection, isolation, insecurity, and sexual problems we often experience in our most intimate relationships. And what about so many of us who are fully capable of loving one partner intimately but somehow fall in love with or lust after the one person who pushes us away, dangles a carrot of love only to disappoint us over and over again, leaving us in a mental state of self-annihilation.

The media offers little support for sensitive, kind, loving sexuality, based upon trusting our own body's reaction and knowing a partner intimately for an extended period of time. The prevailing belief, accepted as fact by most people, is that heightened sexual desire and passion are most prominent in the early, tentative, exploratory days of any relationship. But sexual pleasure can be even more heightened when we discover the magic of touching and being touched in just the way that reaches our inner longing. And then happens most easily when we feel safe and understood and accepted for the whole package that we are, including our most unattractive physical and emotional features.

If we truly believe that long-term commitment, especially marriage, is a prescription for the death of our sexuality, then we are a doomed society. How can we joyfully enter into a lifelong "death sentence" with the partner of our choice? If we truly believe that only young, single, beautiful and confidently aggressive people are sexual, how can our anxiety-ridden minds allow us to pursue a desired sexual partner if we believe we don't fit the prevailing image?

There IS a solution. There is a way out of this myth driven insecurity. The answer is so simple that many of us fail to recognize the significance. As Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, said many centuries ago: “Know Thyself!” And how do we come to know our self? The truth is, we cannot do it alone. As the famous psychological tool, the Johari Window, reveals: every one of us is operating with a blatant blind spot that only others can see. We NEED others to reveal to us who we are, what our unique and special attributes and contributions are, and what aspects of our thinking and believing and behaving could use some adjustment and improvement.

As Dr. David Schnarch, author of The Sexual Crucible says, “Intimacy is not for the faint of heart.” Intimacy is scary because we discover there are no more excuses. We cannot blame or point a finger at anyone else for the problems we experience or the turmoil in our mind. Intimacy reveals to us in all it naked truth whatever it is that we really don’t want to look at. However, once we allow our fears, our insecurities, our deep and private shame to be exposed and revealed, there comes a profound inner freedom to be and express our true self.

Intimacy is scary – Are YOU Ready to learn what it takes?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Erica Goodstone is a Spiritual Relationship Healing Expert Helping Men and Women Heal Their Bodies and Their Relationships Through Love. She is an Author, Seminar Leader, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Marriage Therapist, Board Certified Sex Therapist and Somatic/Body Oriented Psychotherapist. Former Professor of Health and Physical Education at FIT/State University of New York, trained in a variety of body therapy modalities, and a perpetual student of higher consciousness, she has developed a comprehensive understanding of the mind/body/spirit connection. In her work with individuals and couples, heterosexual and homosexual, she has been a catalyst for relationship transformation. Her goal is to create a space in which clients feel accepted, acknowledged, appreciated and safe enough to express their deepest fears, reveal their own unique magnificence, and acknowledge their true desire to love and be loved.

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