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Intimate Relationships Are Changing: Evolution and the Urge …

Over the past few years it has been my ongoing privilege to work with a growing number of couples. They seek me out for private mentoring and for support with the quality of intimacy in their relationships. Some are newly in love and just starting out on their shared journey together. Others are long-term couples. Now, one or the other or both has found themselves at a crossroads. Regardless of the length of time that couples have been together there seem to be a few central underlying themes to the challenges we all face when it comes to being intimate with another human being.

My own relationship journey has inspired me to undertake a very personal study of what it really takes to achieve genuine intimacy. It is such a foundational human longing – the desire for connection and companionship- that it appears on the radar screen often whenever we set our hopes on a fulfilling lifestyle.

Who among us does not want to love and be loved?

While I regularly travel to study with teachers in the relationship field, it is more from years of close observation and deep listening that I have been led to formulate some of my loosely held perspectives. I say loosely, because having hard fast rules when it comes to matters of the heart seems ridiculous at best.

When we speak of love we are in spiritual territory, where intuition carries us much further than logic ever could.

I rely more on the feelings in my body, the vibration of aliveness in my cells, the depth of soul visible in the eyes, to guide my way to an understanding of love and its majesty. That said, more than a few clients have asked me to write some words that might help them make sense of both the chaos and the wonder they experience. It is both humbling and empowering to speak of such things.

A universal hunger for more meaningful and nourishing loving connections with other human beings is often felt as an ache or need we prefer to keep hidden. To expose these longings takes us immediately into vulnerable territory. That is the first observation I will offer today. Intimacy requires vulnerability. There is no getting around it. To be close to another we must reveal who we are and that means risking rejection, ridicule and surprisingly, something much more frightening for many – the possibility that we might actually attain the acceptance we seek.

Here is the thing. Evolution is happening everywhere and that includes within our intimate relationships. When two individuals come together to create a third presence- their relationship – the evolution of each individual accelerates. Have you heard the expression – If you want to grow get into a relationship? I find it to be so true!

There is nothing like a relationship to fuel the evolutionary fires.

In fact in healthy relationships – those based on celebrating differences, encouraging wholeness and honoring needs of both partners, growth is inevitable.

Challenges emerge when couples limit their own personal expansion. Or when they assume that their partner will remain the same over the course of a lifetime. How comfortable are any of us with change? We like the comfort of the familiar even if it no longer serves us.

It takes great courage to stay conscious in relationships.

Going to sleep and living according to habit, at times, seems much more viable. That is, until the pressure to evolve rises and no longer will be shut down or ignored by us.

The truth is that evolution washes through us and cannot be denied any more than a wave upon the ocean can. Resist the flow and it backs up creating enormous pressure. Many relationships are altered or abandoned right before the point of breakthrough. It is much easier to blame a partner than to take responsibility for developing more consciousness. Especially when we have so few models of relationships that are based on two whole partners coming together to expand both their uniqueness as individuals and their shared magnificence. More often we come together in an attempt to fill our emptiness, pacify our loneliness, or soothe our inner conflicts. We do all of these things in the name of love and wonder why we often feel drained. Real love energizes us. It is an offering that can fertilize the ground upon which both people are safe to become more than they could ever be alone.

Relationships are not an elixir or remedy.

They are a catalyst and container for transformation and a place to share a whole range of experiences. The thing is – relationships mean such different things to different people that we often get confused about what we are doing together. One of the first things to do is to clarify and define your relationship vision – both individually and together.

It does not matter whether you are currently part of a couple or a single. It can be helpful to consider the following two urges and how they motivate your behaviors.

The Urge for Freedom – experienced as a longing for personal development of our own skills, and the engaging of life on our own terms.

The Urge for Connection – the longing to merge, unite, share and experience communion – intimate unity that takes us beyond our independence and transforms us thoroughly.

If you have pursued freedom in your past chances are you now long for connection. If you have known intimate connection it is quite possible that it is now time for you to develop your own inner authority. Eventually we want embrace it all.

Balancing our urge for freedom and our urge for connection seems to be a prevailing evolutionary challenge within the relationship arena. When we realize we do not need to give up our selves to be fully present with another, relationships act as a sanctuary. The journey taken together has the potential to be a most exquisite opening to our own essence and to more of everything that life has to offer.

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Listed: July 26, 2008 9:53 am