Do You Feel Inundated, Lonely or Frustrated in Your Relationship?
Are you longing for closeness with your partner? Do you want to feel desired, important and valued? Perhaps you long for your partner to understand and support you when you struggle with tough experiences, but feel disappointed when he or she doesn’t show up for you. Maybe you try hard to get your partner to share his or her inner world, yet can’t find a way in or understand why you are locked out—especially when you are so willing to share your thoughts, feelings, anxieties, desires and life goals. It might be that you feel increasingly sad and lonely in your relationship, despite having a regular sex life.
Alternatively, you may be bothered by your partner’s constant intrusions, with he or she wanting to know how you feel about every little thing—even before you’ve had a chance to digest it yourself. Perhaps you feel invaded and that your boundaries are not being respected, especially if you’re trying to maintain a shield against what feels like a constant threat. Maybe you need distance and space in order to engage without feeling taken over. You might be wondering if emotional intimacy scares you.
Regardless of if you’re feeling locked out or trod upon, do you want feel more connected, alive and secure in your relationship?
Understanding Emotional Intimacy Issues in Relationships
Emotional intimacy is a hallmark of a healthy and evolving relationship. But, it is difficult to achieve if you did not experience it in your childhood. Emotional intimacy is something we learn as children and carry into adulthood. For example, if a parent was in your face constantly, you probably retreated in order to give yourself breathing space. Later, that strategy became part of the way you operate without even being aware of it. Alternatively, if you had a parent who was aloof and distant, it’s likely that you tried to get closer by being in his or her space. Now, it feels normal to be inquisitive and an “in your face” type because it worked for you when you were growing up. Whether you had a cold and distant parent or a nosy, intrusive one, you adapted accordingly.
In your adult romantic relationships, the strategies that once served you and helped you survive may be working against fostering healthy emotional intimacy with your chosen partner. Most people organize their romantic lives according to what is familiar. The sense of predictability is a huge pull, even if you have to relive all the frustrations of the past. While familiar, it’s not satisfying to repeat the same uncomfortable experiences of your childhood. You want to find that comfortable sweet spot where you can approach or welcome your partner in an attempt to get close—sharing moments of acceptance, understanding, empathy and comfort in being together without any pressure or fear of being swallowed alive or banished to a barren island.
Emotional intimacy issues are the number one problem in relationships of all kinds. It’s the most frequent concern for those seeking relationship therapy, couples counseling, dating counseling and family counseling. We are constantly attempting to manage how close we allow a partner, parent, child or friend get to us. Either you crave greater emotional closeness and want your partner to respond to you, or you are afraid of closeness and want your partner to back off. The impasse is immensely frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way
Perhaps you have read books and articles on how to connect with your partner and develop emotional intimacy, but they haven’t helped. Relationship intimacy works at a very deep, unconscious level, and it’s based on your need for safe connection and security. Reading about it or going to classes on ‘how to connect with your partner’ may reach you at a conscious, superficial level, but it doesn’t hit the spot deep inside your brain that regulates your need for intimacy. The good news is that there is help and hope to work through your intimacy issues and develop close, nurturing relationships with the important people in your life. An insightful, skilled and experienced relationship therapist can help you maintain your sense of self, develop healthy boundaries and truly enjoy the many benefits of emotional intimacy.
Intimacy Counseling Can Provide You With The Insight, Guidance And Tools Needed Io Develop Comfortable Closeness and Connection In Your Relationships
In emotional intimacy therapy sessions, you can identify, explore and address the roots of your tendency to want more closeness than your partner or to back away from what feels like too much.
In safe, guided therapy sessions, I can help you understand the source of your fear of intrusion or your longing for greater emotional closeness. Together, we’ll work to distinguish your past experiences from your present, which can help you understand the difference between an invasive parent and a gentle partner and/or an aloof parent and a sensitive partner.
Throughout our sessions, I can help you learn to read the signs in your partner’s body language and words that reflect his or her level of safety in your interaction. When you can sense the threat level, you can adapt and ensure that you are neither rejected nor intruded on. You get to practice learning about the shift from danger to safety and back again, in our interaction in session. In addition you’ll discover your feelings of emptiness – longing for connection and then feeling satiated as the therapeutic relationship progresses. I’ll invite you to check in with your physical sensations so that you can stay in touch with and be informed by you internal emotions of excitement, anxiety, longing or emptiness.
As you become more aware of your own safety and security needs, I’ll teach you ways to describe your needs and fears and create a dialogue with your partner. Sharing your innermost feelings about the relationship is the most fundamental act of emotional intimacy. You’ll find a rhythm that honors each of your needs, learning as you go along that emotional intimacy is a fluid, creative process.
No matter what you’re intimacy needs or issues are now, it is possible to develop healthy, flexible boundaries that allow you to sense when letting your partner in is safe and nurturing and when it might not be. You can better understand when the timing of your needs don’t mesh with your partner’s, without experiencing it as a permanent rejection of you. You can foster more ‘intelligent’ barriers using proven, effective skills. With healthy, thoughtful boundaries and a new awareness and ability to read your partner, you can both feel safe and satisfied.
You still may have questions or concerns about working with a relationship counselor…
My partner isn’t willing to come to therapy. Can relationship counseling still help me?
With or without your partner present, in sessions, we’ll develop a trusting, safe and close relationship based on acceptance, tolerance and validation. You can bring this newfound foundation of trust developed through intimacy therapy into your relationship by making new, different and appropriate choices in how you relate with your partner. When you become aware of your own way of regulating your sense of safety with your partner, you can learn how to make more him or her feel safe, too.
I feel guilty that I’m not emotionally available to my partner, but I’m not sure that emotional intimacy counseling can help.
Living with guilt is a heavy burden. It makes you feel bad about yourself, and my guess is that you are curious as to what keeps you fearful of developing emotional intimacy.
In safe, guided sessions, I can help you discover what has made you so protective. Together we can explore if these same threats apply to your relationship with your partner. You might decide that you have less to fear in your current relationship, in which case I can help you develop the tools and insight needed to nurture increased closeness. If not, we can work on how to manage whatever level of relationship intimacy you can tolerate.
How can relationship counseling make my partner more interested in rebuilding emotional intimacy in our relationship?
During couples counseling sessions, we can look at what you believe has changed in your relationship and levels of intimacy and what it is that you miss giving to and receiving from your partner. We can also explore what occurred in your relationship that led to your partner avoiding emotional closeness, as well as your need for greater connection. Emotional intimacy is directly connected to what is going on moment to moment in any relationship. As we explore and better understand those details, emotional intimacy adapts accordingly.
You Can Enjoy A Close And Connected Relationship
I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. Your relationship happiness is an investment that matters.