Certainly when you go into a long-term relationship with a mate, you’re hoping that you’ve found someone with whom you share the same values and think that you’ll have a lot in common. You believe that this is, among so many other available people, the person who will best meet your needs and mesh with who you are.
I agree. There is a problem that arises, however, if you think that this person is the end-all and be-all. In other words, many go into partnerships with the hope that the person with whom they have decided to make a long-term commitment to will meet all of their needs at all levels. Now, as you read the last sentence, you may think that to maintain that belief is unrealistic. Yet, when the day-to-day partnership plays out, many do become disappointed in their partners when all of their needs are not met.
More than one
First, I’d like to discuss that in one’s life there are going to be many relationships that are significant — not just the one with your partner. These relationships can be very meaningful for your sense of well-being and provide a great deal of intimacy.
Does it surprise you that I use the word ‘intimacy?’ Intimacy means so much more than physicality. When you share an intimate relationship with someone, it indicates that you feel a sense of closeness, a sense of openness; you feel that you can be with that person and not be judged. Clearly, this is a very special quality and not one that is shared in all relationships.
However, it is important to note that there are different types of intimacies: sexual (being able to discuss one’s sexuality including secrets and fantasies rather than just the act), emotional (sharing significant experiences and feelings), intellectual (sharing ideas and respecting one another’s opinions), aesthetic (sharing experiences of beauty like art, music, or nature), creative (personal growth that occurs by co-creating with another), recreational (experiences having to do with play and just spending time together), work (sharing of tasks either at work or in the family), crisis (connection due to major or minor tragedies), commitment (feeling hope or possibility because of an issue that goes beyond an individual level), spiritual (shared values and the meaning of life), communication (being able to be totally honest and open even with constructive criticism), and conflict (becoming closer by handling conflicts in a respectful way).
What this all means
The point of delineating all these variations of intimacy is twofold. The first is to make you aware that there are, indeed, different types. The second is to drive home the point that no one person can offer you everything once you realize in how many ways two people can share this type of bond.
It’s similar to having different friends that you call upon at various times. One friend is great when you need to talk. Another is the person you’ll call when you just feel like having a couple of good laughs.
In your partnership, give some thought as to which type of intimacy is the most important to you. Rather than expecting your partner to be a “jack of all trades,” so to speak, focus on developing those aspects that are most meaningful to you.
But remember that partnerships are a two-way street. Your mate also has needs. Find out what is important to him or her and find out if you are available to satisfy those needs. What can be worked on together? This discussion, alone, will help bring you closer together.
This kind of understanding will also be helpful to you in regard to your friends. Analogous to your mate, no one friend will be able to be all things to you. Learn to value the special-ness that each friend offers.
The more you appreciate your relationships with the proper
perspective, the greater joy you will receive from them!