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Relationships are richer if they have some of each of the following types of intimacy.
Shared Intimacy: A connection we get from participating in the same activity with another person. The activity can be anything from washing dishes, going for a walk, watching a movie, having sex or parenting. The common theme here is that by sharing the activity we feel more connected. Usually connection occurs nonverbally in this type of intimacy.
Other-Validated Intimacy: This is the connection established when we share our emotional experience with another person and they validate it – they respect and sympathize with our take on it, they tell us our emotions are valuable and valid, or they simply welcome our sharing with kindness and understanding. The message we receive is that our experience is OK, we are welcomed and understood, and that it is safe to be open with this person. This is the kind of experience that draws most couples together and is what the “honeymoon” period is all about.
Self-Validated Intimacy: In this type of intimacy, we are open with the other person even though they do not validate us. Unlike in other-validated intimacy, we must provide ourselves an internal sense that our emotions or thoughts are valuable, appropriate, welcomed and understood. This allows us to be honest with our partner even when we expect them to not like what we have to say or do. This requires courage, and it is the only way that members of the couple can stop “pleasing” and really be who they are. As couples mature there is more of this kind of intimacy. In order to support your partner in self-validated intimacy, it is important to be respectful and it is helpful to not humiliate them or abandon them when they share something you do not like or agree with.
Ideally, couples experience all three types of intimacy regularly. The research indicates that happy couples have 5 times as much pleasant experience with one another than negative. So to be happy together, set time aside to have a wide variety of fun together regularly. The more you engage in the above three kinds of intimacy, you will create a greater and more satisfying relationship for both of you.
Please visit author, Moshe Ratson at his google+ Profile: +Moshe Ratson