Intimacy, by its very nature, requires us to be vulnerable. Our partner, lover, or mate can know us to our very core, sometimes better than we know ourselves, and that can make anyone feel as though they were totally exposed. Intimacy can be intimidating. However, it is also an amazingly freeing experience to be completely who you are with someone you totally trust.

Allowing yourself to be open gives you the opportunity to let your loved one’s heart touch your own, and the loneliness in life melts away with every tender moment you let in. Despite its benefits, for many people this idea is terribly frightening. Someone who is afraid to be vulnerable may want to connect more than anything else in the world, but the fear of being that exposed holds them back. Not the greatest way to get through life. By not being intimate with someone, you never really let yourself be known, and you will never really know yourself.

We create a lot of who we are based on the reactions of others. When it’s someone we’re in love with, those reactions govern a large percentage of how we behave. We will share parts of ourselves with someone we love because there is a real desire to connect.

Couples who have truly intimate relationships can’t wait to share their days and dreams with each other. They want to connect, and not just in the bedroom. Couples who choose to engage in an intimate relationship, and it is a choice, do so because they want closeness on all levels. In fact a case can be made that intimacy itself is a great aphrodisiac. Most people are more romantic with someone they feel safe with than with a person they don’t really know.

Dedicating some time to going deeper and sharing all your needs, hopes, and fears will lead you to feeling that there’s at least one person on this planet who cares and who totally gets you. Now that’s intimacy. If the idea of intimacy entices you, while at the same time it causes you to put your guard up, here’s something you can do to help yourself open up.

* Talk with the one you love about how being vulnerable makes you feel. This is really the best place to start. Choose a time and place where you and your partner are both comfortable and feeling especially affectionate. Finding the right words may be daunting, so you can begin by asking your partner for assistance. For example, you can ask your partner in advance to respond in a certain way if you start to feel especially vulnerable as you are talking. A code word or hand gesture can signal that you need a hug, some space, or just some patience from your partner while you emote. You may want your partner to listen to you without saying anything, or you may want your partner to interrupt you with questions. It’s up to you.

* As a way of beginning, you can talk about how closeness makes you feel: does it make you want to burst into tears or run away and hide? Does it make you angry? Was there something that happened to you in the past that makes being close especially scary? If so, you can choose to talk about this as well. By just saying the words that are in your heart, you will feel a little more trust and a little less fear.
Now ask your partner to share his or her feelings about closeness. We all have them and knowing that you aren’t the only one will help the two of you feel closer and give you the sense of intimate connection that you need to continue growing together.


Excerpt from EMOTIONAL FITNESS FOR INTIMACY: Sweeten and Deepen your Love in Only 10 Minutes a Day (New Harbinger Publications)

Author's Bio: 

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., has more than twenty years of experience as a therapist and has been named one of the country’s top relationship experts by Cosmopolitan magazine. His weekly newspaper column, Emotional Fitness, is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service and appears in more than two hundred newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Ventura County Star, the Orange County Register, the Detroit News, the Cincinnati Post, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He hosts a weekly radio show on KCLU/NPR, broadcast in the Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara areas, which reaches more than eighty thousand listeners. Goldsmith has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, CBS News, NBC News, Beauty and the Geek, and the Greg Behrendt Show. He regularly offers workshops to the public. Barton’s latest book, Emotional Fitness For Intimacy: Sweeten and Deepen Your Love in Only 10 Minutes a Day, will be published in April 2009. Visit Goldsmith online at