As lovers we often believe that it is our connection that defines our relationship. However, it is the ability to connect and disconnect in graceful ways that allows a relationship to find its harmony. When two people can remove themselves from each other they are much more capable of coming back together. Too much connection can lead to a loss of each partner’s sense of self. Too much separation and the relationship starts to wither. The answer is learning how to dance with all of this. We call it the dance of intimacy.
In order to make a relationship work we must consider the space that is important to maintaining the relationship. What space is, is the time away and focus on one’s self. It is in no way a pulling away or a distancing which comes when a member of a relationship is hurt or angry.
The space we create is about allowing time for rejuvenation and support from other people.
When a relationship lacks space there is a need for the other person to meet all the needs of their partner. This is an impossible task and leads to unhealthy outcomes.
The goal is to have healthy time for connection with your partner that comes out of time alone or time with family and friends. When we can feel the support of our community it is much easier to enter into the connected space of intimate partnership.
Getting to know each other.
Working to know your partner’s needs is critical to creating the dance of intimacy. When we are curious about our partner’s hopes and dreams, aspirations and desires we can better understand what they need in the moment. Do they need more space? Are they in need of more connection?
The key is asking questions and remembering them. Some people have nervous systems that want connection when things are not working out and others have nervous systems that need to be left alone for a time. Knowing when to do this this is the tricky work of being a good partner.
It is imperative that each partner commit to knowing their partner fully so that they can insure they can support them the way they need to be supported.
For some of my clients this idea of “connection,” can feel abstract. What does my partner mean when they say, “I don’t feel connected to you?”
Here is what I will say about connection. You know it when you feel it. Moments of playfulness require connection. Intellectual discussions that allow the exchange of ideas require a connectedness.
When your partner walks in the room, notice if they are attentive to you. Do they look at you, notice you, or are they just in their own world. If they are not paying attention it is a good sign that the two of you are not connected.
Building connection is not about vacations and high intensity moments but more about the mundane moments of everyday life. It is the gentle touch as you pass your partner. It is the smile from across the room when you are both engaged in something else.
It is important to have an emotional response to feeling connected or not connected. When you feel this distance emerge with you partner you need to get back to connecting. Both partners must commit to reconnecting when the connection is lost.
When we show up with our partners with a healthy sense of our needs partly met by others, we can engage in the joy of being with someone we really love. This allows for the relationship to go deeper with intimacy and form stronger bonds.
However, if the relationship does not allow for other people to meet the needs of the members of the partnership the relationship can begin to feel burdensome and out of balance.
When there is awareness that the other person is being burdened by our needs it is important to reach out to others who can offer support and connection.
How this shows up in my life.
I often find it hard to balance the needs of my marriage with the needs of the rest of my supportive network. I tend towards putting so much into the main relationship that I lose the other relationships that help me thrive.
When I lose myself in my primary relationship I begin to ask too much of my wife. I start to feel needy and childlike, throwing tantrums when I don’t get what I want.
Recently I have been taking more time to be with friends who really help me feel supported. My wife has been wonderful about giving me the space to reach out to others. It is hard to take time away from us because it sometimes feels like we have such a limited time already.
What I notice is that when I separate for a time from my wife I feel refreshed and more present with her. I find myself coming to her with more curiosity and openness to her experience. The dance of intimacy is a must in my life.
If you or someone you know is struggling to balance this in their relationship I encourage you to reach out.
Wishing You The Day You Need To Have!
Augustus Masters, Robert. (2015). To Be A Man: A Guide To True Masculine Power. Boulder, CO. Sounds True Publications.
About the Author
My name is Bryce Giron Mathern and I’m the owner of Brass Balls Tender Heart. I am a licensed therapist in the Denver Metro area. Being passionate and committed to helping my clients have amazing relationships with their partners, children and other family members is my thing.
I have spent a big chunk of my life learning the skills necessary to create healthy relationships. If you are struggling in a relationship I encourage you to reach out for help. I believe that through a process of healing old wounds and learning new skills people can build relationships that are nourishing and supportive.