Magical Pillow Talk
Every human being wants to feel safe, to feel loved and to belong. These are such basic, fundamental, human needs that it is impossible to thrive when they are not met.
An intimate relationship with another human being is where most of us look to have our core needs met. Sadly most of us enter into relationships with deep wounding from times in our past when these core needs have not been met. In protecting our wounds, and ourselves against further wounding, we put up defensive barriers against the very people who are there to finally meet our needs.
When we co-create a space in our relationship in which we both feel safe and loved, we create an opportunity for both parties to heal the wounds from our past. But all too often relationships become places where we don’t feel safe and where we don’t feel seen, heard and accepted so we keep our barriers raised to protect us from being hurt yet again.
Intimacy means absence of fear.
An intimate space is a space in which we feel safe - safe to feel, safe to express, safe to share, safe to heal. In the absence of fear we feel safe enough to feel sexy, safe enough to express our wishes and our desires, safe enough to give and to receive. When we are in an intimate space we feel safe to feel fully human. And isn't that what we all really want to experience in this lifetime? To feel fully human?
This is the potential power of a relationship - to create a space in which both people feel safe enough to feel fully human.
For so many of us, this place of safety feels beyond reach. We don’t feel safe, so we don’t take down our barriers and we end up pushing our partner away. A gulf grows between us, made slowly wider by unexpressed disappointments and hidden desires - fertile breeding ground for more lying and cheating, the very opposite of intimacy.
Without the knowledge that we are safe and loved we don’t feel safe to express ourselves fully - our hopes, fears, desires and disappointments - to be fully known…....to be fully human. We become increasingly isolated and alone inside of a relationship, that because it is not intimate, begins to feel more like a prison.
After the blissful “honeymoon” period in which heady chemicals create an illusion of safety, we find ourselves in relationships in which we have got to do some conscious work to create the reality of safety.
Many of us are so shocked when the period of illusion comes to an end that we decide that either the relationship, the other person, or even ourselves, are irretrievably broken - and so bounce out of one relationship into another taking the same wounding with us (which will of course show up in the new relationship and create exactly the same difficulties after the hormone charged early days).
But when you understand how to create true intimacy you don’t feel shocked when the illusion ends, you don’t have to fear it coming to an end and you don’t have to run from it when it does come to an end. You can just work with your partner to create the intimacy you both yearn for.
Remember - intimacy means absence of fear - we need to learn how to make each other and ourselves feel safe.
One of the most effective ways I know to build intimacy is to understand and acknowledge each other’s “first language” for intimacy. I first read of this concept in the brilliant Esther Perel’s book “Mating in Captivity”, but I had begun to notice this in my life before she articulated it for me.
As a rule (and rules are there to be broken) - women’s first language is talk whilst men’s first language is touch. Women need to talk to feel safe enough for physical or sexual intimacy whereas men need physical/sexual intimacy to feel safe enough to talk. Whilst we all crave and need intimacy (a safe place) we have different needs to meet to get there.
Have some of the best conversations of your relationship happened in bed, lying in each other’s arms, maybe before or after sex?
This is why - the physical safety makes the male partner feel safe enough to talk at a deeper level than usual which is the very thing that makes his female partner feel safe enough to feel really sexy. You are in a truly intimate space - one in which you both feel safe.
It’s such a simple understanding but one that has the potential to have a profound impact on your relationship.
If as a woman you are frustrated that, “He won’t talk” - What can you do to make him feel safe? You’re not going to bring him into safety by rejecting his touch until he talks. It might feel tempting to play this game, but denying him the touch that makes him feel safe will also rob you of the talk you need to feel connected and safe in your relationship.
If as a man you respond to lack of sex by becoming more and more sullen and withdrawn, I can guarantee you that she is not going to suddenly notice your incredible sex appeal and jump on you. Your withdrawal makes her feel less and less safe, which will completely close down her sexual desire for you. Yes, her lack of touch hurts, and it will continue to hurt until you find a way to listen to her.
To create an intimate relationship in which you both get your needs met, you have to learn the art of speaking both languages. It is no easier than learning a foreign language at first, but as with learning any new language it gets easier with practice. And once you have both learned how to do this you are able to co-create a truly intimate relationship - one in which you can finally feel seen, heard, known and understood.
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Photo bymimi lalaa onUnsplash