Relationship Advice Tips for Developing Intimacy from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Arabella put up walls for protection that deprived her of intimacy
Arabella fantasized about having a relationship with her partner and family where everyone was genuinely interested in one another. She yearned for a sign that her loved ones were willing to talk to her about her life and experience rather than focus on gossip, politics or the preparation of food for family gatherings. There was a huge wall getting in the way of Arabella’s wish for connection. The wall went up and down like a drawbridge so that she protected herself from two awful feelings.
Protection against bad feeling number one – guilt
Sharing what was on her mind without censorship was the ideal situation for Arabella. Speaking freely without having to be concerned with the impact on her loved ones was worth its weight in gold. She could tell it like it was and not have to worry about hurting her loved ones. The only way she could do that was to think of them as invincible. Nothing she said could touch them in a way that would upset them, make them cry, get angry or disappear. Nothing to feel guilty about.
Turning her loved ones into impenetrable fortresses helped her avoid the guilt that came with witnessing the impact she had on loved ones when she shared her feelings and wishes.
No impact meant that Arabella felt like good person.
Price to pay for avoiding guilt
There was a massive price to pay. Fortresses can’t care, be empathic, join with her in her experience or love her. They just sit there solid but emotionless, leaving Arabella feeling alone, disconnected, empty, but guilt free.
Protection against bad feeling number two- fear
What if Arabella allowed her loved ones to have an impact on her?
What if she allowed the fortresses to become welcoming homes, eager to invite her in and offer hospitality?
What if Arabella enjoyed the warmth of the greeting and the nurturing of their hearts?
It might be so seductive and fulfilling that she would get strongly attached and needy.
Fear of being caught in the net of attachment would be the overwhelming reaction.
A fortress against being impacted or impacting loved ones keeps out intimacy
Price to pay for avoiding fear
Strong attachments mean Arabella would feel controlled and scared that she couldn’t be free to speak and act naturally.
Fear of losing her authentic self would wash all the good stuff away.
So better to turn herself into a fortress so that she can’t feel the love and care coming her way.
Arabella pulled up the drawbridge whenever her loved ones reached out with love and warmth. Not letting it in kept her safe from having to pretend and be something other than herself.
Fortresses are safe but they are made of stone
Arabella didn’t allow herself to be impacted by her loved ones so she lost out on their love, warmth, care, concern and support. Her stone wall made sure of that.
She didn’t want to stir up feelings in her loved ones in case it backfired and filled her with guilt and fear.
Arabella traded stone walls with herself and her loved ones.
Sadness, loneliness and detachment was all that was left – other than safety to speak her mind when she needed to.
Only it never got heard and her stuff never got attended to, processed, eased, relieved or soothed. Everything stayed frozen in time behind stone walls.
An article in Personal Relationships, 2010 suggests that people feel neglected if their partners show flat and or hard emotions. Arabella felt coldness and neglect when her partner and family failed to connect. However she herself showed hard emotions to make sure she wasn’t vulnerable to guilt and fear. Both sides were less inclined to invest in the relationship because of the stone wall that kept them apart. The research indicates that soft emotions that show vulnerability are the clearest signs that someone is willing to invest in the relationship – they allow impact on both sides.
Stepping on each others toes means you have an impact – connection!
Connecting with loved ones involves impacting each other
Relationships are worth having when you know that what you think, say, feel and do matters to your loved ones. The only way you know that it matters is if your loved ones have a reaction.
Reactions come from being impacted on both sides. That’s how we know that we are being taken seriously and that someone has made room for us in their lives.
Letting your loved ones impact you works the same way. You make space for their feelings and experiences without having to throw out your own.
It’s the mixing and melding of minds, emotions and experiences that are the foundation for healthy, strong and flexible relationships. There can be no mixing of minds and emotions without impacting one another.
Penetrating the stone walls may seem risky, but they bring the likelihood of comfort, joy, love and care.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: this article is for educative and informational purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not liable for any reaction you may have while reading the article or implementing the suggestions. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.