How Do You Know When You Are Ready For Real Intimacy?
BY JENNIFER LITNER
Blind date? Not in this generation. First Date? Not without a Google search.
Before meeting face to face, we might have all the information we need on our prospective dates. After screening their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, what else is there to learn? And if it turns out that they do not vibe well with us, we can escape as fast as that last SOS text message we sent to our roommate underneath the table.
What is the purpose of dating anyway? Suppose some people date with the hopes of finding love or companionship, others for a new experience, and some may be searching for their next accomplice to flaunt on their Facebook timeline. How do we know Mr. Thursday night’s intentions? How might we understand our own?
In a world where one’s social life is evaluated by the amount of followers on their Instagram account, there’s no wonder why so many people feel like they do not measure up. When we are saturated by images, articles, posts and links, of the trendiest bars, most exquisite meals, contemporary fashions, hot ticket games, exclusive events, and upcoming engagements – we are simply reminded of what we have yet to attain. Today’s normal has been redefined, influencing our expectations of how we should live in dozens of ways, especially in our intimate relationships. Dating has become a conquest both emotionally and mentally. Instead of embracing the mysterious journey in the spirit of human connection, now budding relationships are being created amidst the juxtaposition of accessibility, instant gratification, and a variety of options.
Is it the millennial nature to ask, "Why stop here when there may be something more rewarding around the corner? How does this pattern of thinking affect our relationships?"
Establishing a relationship requires energy, which is an investment. Similarly, cultivating intimacy in a new relationship necessitates embracing vulnerability, which can be scary for all people including millennials.
Psychologist and Family Therapist Lyman Wynne characterizes intimacy as the inconstant subjective side of relatedness, the sharing of personal feelings, fantasies, and affectively meaningful experience associated with each of the stages that have been described. Wynne identifies each individual’s responsibility share vulnerabilities and listen closely. Wynne encourages us to consider the importance of personal accountability and the connection between action and meaning in their intimate relationships.
It can also be quite intimidating to consider the numerous ways dating has been socially defined and in particular, how these ideas influence our behaviors: first dates at fancy cocktail bars, dinner at high brow restaurants, flaunting triumph without mentioning hiccups, wearing high heels and pressed button-down shirts, exchanging IG accounts before last names, “checking in” at all the hotspots over the weekend. It seems awfully complicated to stay focused on building a connection with someone amidst this superficial lens through which the millennial generation is expected to live and find love. Dating as a millennial is not easy, especially if we take it upon ourselves to act in specific ways that are not necessarily consistent with our truest selves.
So, how do you know you are ready for real intimacy?
1. You Crave Connection
You are genuinely certain that you want to continue spending time with this person and getting to know them – from vulnerabilities to victories. Would you still want to hang out with this person if your picture couldn’t garner 100+ likes? Remember, you are dating for you, not your followers or friends.
While it may be enticing, you are aware that whatever is around the corner does not quite feel as significant as exploring possibilities with the person in front of you. If you have unresolved doubts or insecurities, perhaps that is a sign that it is the wrong time to move forward.
2. You Can Communicate What You Want & How You Feel
Instead of relying on text messaging to share your feelings, you can communicate face to face that you want to continue this exploration process within the context of a relationship (this configuration is mutually agreed upon). You can also communicate how you feel both about yourself when you are with this person and how you feel about them.
If you find yourself feeling uneasy about what you want as a result of what may be happening in your social world, you are able to acknowledge this and discuss those feelings with your partner.
When your friend raves to you about her latest exquisite dinner dates, you do not let it impact your feelings about your current relationship when you know you would be perfectly comfortable cozying up with your partner on the couch with a bowl of chili.
3. You Trust Your Intuition and Yourself
Your head and your gut are aligned on this one. Feelings from both the innermost part of your soul and your heart are giving you the go ahead. You are honest with your self and it is reflected when you mean what you say and say what you mean. You honor your commitments and are not fooling anyone.
Each weekend you notice friends posting engagement pictures on Facebook, but that does not mean it is the right choice for you. Use wedding announcements on social media to open the conversation with your partner to see if your future relationship aspirations are aligned. Remember, your posts are opportunities for you to reflect what is uniquely important to you.
4. You Identify Challenges and Accept Them
You know what aspects of relationships are challenging to you and you are open about them with yourself and your partner. You understand that feeling nervous because something is unfamiliar or uncomfortable is normal and you are going to accept that challenge and work through the surrounding emotions.
If you work the night shift and your partner works during the daytime, it may be challenging to spend time together as frequently as you would like. Perhaps you decide to stay in touch via texting or sending one other Snapchats to share details about your lives. You accept your differences in schedules and you take steps to achieve balance in your social life with your partner.
5. You Recognize Your Vulnerabilities and Can Embrace Them Together
If you know you are especially susceptible to _______, you can calmly talk to your partner about it so that you can both be more prepared about how to meet your needs when your vulnerability is activated. For example, if you have had previous experiences with a partner’s cheating and are prone to jealousy in relationships; you acknowledge this and are able to discuss it with your partner, so that he or she can be sensitive to your feelings in the future.
Remember, you know yourself best. If you are feeling apprehensive about entering a relationship, I encourage you to ask yourself, where might your doubts be coming from? New situations can present us with an array of unexpected emotions and can be uncomfortable at times, which is totally normal. Honor your courage and remain true to yourself!
Best practice – date whom you want and how you want. Wear what makes you feel like your best self. Dine at whatever establishment feels most comfortable for you and to your tastes. Be mindful of ways you are acting differently from how you would ordinarily or when you feel compelled to change. Take a deep breath. And, remember to exhale.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.jennifermccomb.com/associates/
Image credit Abe Khamis. Copyright 2016: All rights reserved.