Sometimes, you may face difficulties in a relationship and come to the conclusion that your love is just not strong enough to make it work. Since childhood, girls often dream of falling in love and being swept away by their Prince Charming. They watch romantic movies and fantasize about finding true love and living happily ever after.
But what if love is not enough for a happy ending?
What if you’re really seeking true intimacy instead?
Think about why love wasn’t enough in your past relationships. I’m sure that falling in love was amazing, and you believed in your heart. This was the person of your dreams. The hope was to get married, have the white picket fence, and the whole kit and kaboodle. But for a variety of reasons, the relationship fell apart, and the love that was there, the love that convinced you this was it, was not enough. Let’s explore what love and intimacy are, why love is not enough, and why what you really want is true intimacy to make a relationship last for the long haul.
Types of love vs true intimacy
When it comes to love, intimacy, and relationships, there are four types of love.
Friendship love– A closeness with the absence of passion.
Infatuation love– Love at first sight. Infatuation love does not have any commitment or sexual contact.
Romantic love– A deep liking, passion, and intimacy that may or may not have a commitment and is usually based on physical attraction.
Agape love– The perfect love of God. God’s love is unconditional, where nothing is needed from the recipient to be loved. You are loved and owe nothing back in return.
Love takes many forms, including the love between parents and children. However, romantic love is distinct from agape love or parental love. While infatuation can be an initial spark, true romantic love grows and matures beyond mere attraction. It is a fluid emotion that can change over time. Love is a feeling, and as with all feelings, it can change. Nevertheless, loving feelings create a powerful energy and a zest for life, an unwavering feeling that you can take on the world and nothing can stop you.
You seek love in your life in order to experience someone who really sees you and knows you. But that is not loved because over time, as you really do see someone, sometimes those loving feelings do change. I’ve thought I’ve been in love many times only to have those feelings change once I really got to know the person. Real romantic love, or what I refer to as true intimacy, is when you really know someone, all parts of someone, the good, bad and ugly, and love them anyway.
True intimacy and love are tightly entwined together, where one continuously feeds the other. The triangular theory of love is a great illustration of this dynamic. How the triangular theory of love creates true intimacy Robert Sternberg describes a triangular theory of love. It includes intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment.
He describes intimacy as a depth of knowledge, trust, being a true self without fear of rejection, a movement from Me to We, and a commitment. He goes on to say that love is a verb and that love is a process. A process that I see as fluidly moving toward a depth of connection that creates safety and security in being known and loved. This is true intimacy.
So, what is it to be fully known and fully loved?
It means being able to be vulnerable and not shamed with or by your partner. It also means your partner can reveal and expose their true self without shame from you. We all seek this depth of connection that comes from our first attachments beginning in infancy. The early childhood relationship with a caregiver shapes the development of the brain and lays the foundation for future relationships.
Humans seek that same connection and sense of security that you hopefully received as a young child. Often there are wounds in those early attachments that get played out in our relationships. Nevertheless, that is the closeness you are seeking. That level of care and security of being completely vulnerable and exposed gets met with assurance, validation, comfort, and care. This loving attachment with a partner is what I call true intimacy.
How to create intimacy in marriage? There are two types of intimacy in marriage;
This is what you are seeking when thinking about a relationship and one that can last a lifetime. True intimacy, in general, is when being exposed and vulnerable is accepted. It’s a sense of closeness that comes from being real and authentic with who you are. This is what I believe is pursued in relationships more than love. Emotional intimacy is when someone truly sees you and all the flaws and rough edges, as John Legend says in the song, “All of You,” and chooses to love you.
When that is experienced, there is a loving feeling that gets anchored in and sticks for years to come. It’s not a fleeting feeling like infatuation. It’s solid and secure. This is true intimacy. Once the honeymoon period is over, partners really get to see each other, accept each other, and see if they have what it takes to be authentic, seen, known, and loved. If so, there is sexual intimacy in marriage that works in conjunction with emotional intimacy. Sometimes it’s hard to know what comes first, the emotional or sexual.
Is sex important in a relationship?
I believe sex in a new relationship is simply lust and a whole lot of fun! You expose yourself in all kinds of ways and respond to chemistry, the attraction, and passion. Deep sexual intimacy comes after the emotional intimacy is anchored in, and you’re safe to express yourself freely, not only in everyday life but in the bedroom as well.
Often the sex and intimacy in marriage are where we feel the most exposed and vulnerable.
However, feeling emotionally safe with your partner and experiencing the assurance of the attachment creates a sexual bond that is truly what God intends when He talks about man and woman becoming one (Mark 10:8).
This relationship between emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy creates an unending and loving connection that stands the test of time.
Every relationship has its trials and hardships.
Relationships are not linear. They are up and down and all around. But when emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy meet, then true love can exist. It’s what Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love describes as commitment and won’t come and go like the wind. Love is simply not enough. Love comes and goes. Love is a feeling. True intimacy, both emotional and sexual, is what bonds and binds a relationship into a secure and lasting commitment. This is what you are seeking, and this is what you can have in your relationship.