We live in a disconnected culture of swipes, clicks, downloads, likes, and tweets. While some experts say this is how the latest generation connects and engages with one another, many people share feeling lonely, depressed, and long for real, organic, genuine intimacy.
Yet, even the word intimacy in and of itself is often misunderstood. Many people assume intimacy primarily has to do with being sexual. As Dr. Patrick Carnes explains in his classic workbook titled Facing The Shadows©1997, there are 12 Dimensions of Courtship. Intimacy is #7 on the list!
Intimacy, according to Carnes, entails an attachment to one's partner which requires an immense amount of vulnerability. The act of attaching to another person and expressing intimacy in this way has proved challenging for most people, especially with how much people snuggle up to their mobile devices while laying in bed rather than cuddling with their partner in order to share cozy details about their day.
Sex, interestingly enough, lands at #10 in the 12 Dimensions of Courtship. However, as our culture indicates, sex often comes third on the list; coming after noticing and flirtation. All too often people "hook up" instead of getting to really know one another.
In my webinar The Art of Ecstasy, I spend one week discussing the 12 Dimensions of Courtship. My reason for doing this? For the past decade of working with couples in recovery from various sexual and other issues, most if not all couples have ZERO idea that these dimensions even exist! Couples typically operate from the last two dimensions: Sex (which a lot of times they report feels obligatory and boring) and Commitment-which sadly, even commitment is loosely defined for many.
When I have explored each of the dimensions with people, some responses I hear include, "I don't know how to flirt with my spouse" and " I love his personality but I have lost my attraction to his body" and "We don't have intimacy. We skip to 'Wam bam thank you ma'am' which feels empty." I also hear some positives such as "I still notice the way she walks into a room. She's stunning" and "I love it when he is playful and flirty with me. It makes me feel special again."
How can couples get back to their roots of feeling organically connected to their partner or spouse, or for those who feel solid in this area, how can couples maintain this connectivity? How can you get back to feeling connected to YOU?
My answer: Date your spouse, date yourself. I will discuss the latter in a moment. As sex therapist and relationship expert Esther Perel explains in her book Mating in Captivity (©2016) we need a sense of mystery in our relationship to keep the spark alive. While early on we may love the freedom, spontaneity and feeling of independence in our new relationship, we soon crave predictability. But sadly, too much predictability in our day-to-day lives creates boredom in our relationship. Thus by practicing some of the earlier stages of courtship, some of which include noticing, flirting and demonstrating, couples can achieve as well as maintain a sense of mystery. The most practical way to achieve this is to date your spouse. In dating, I don't mean the typical Friday night same restaurant and movie routine. You have to mix it up to keep that spark alive!
For those of you in the thick of a partner's addiction, betrayal, divorce, newly single, single for awhile, married recently or for a long time and wanting to stay connected to YOU, date yourself! Dating yourself is a crucial step in healing from anything, in gaining on-going clarity about our wants, needs, and desires, in continuing to grow and expand out of our comfort zone and into the wake up zone! It can be a huge part of our mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual growth process. Write your bucket list and live it! Do the things you have wanted to do but held yourself back from doing! Go to a day spa because you want to or a new coffee shop that you have wanted to experience. Awaken your senses daily to the wonder of being in your body, of being alive, and of feeling the freshness around you. Capture all the love and support you have and deserve.
If you are interested in dating your spouse as you date yourself, explore the following:
Reflect on when you met your spouse. What did you find alluring, sexy, attractive? What did you notice (the 1st dimension of courtship)? What traits (personality, physical, character) did you adore? Were you drawn to your partner via attraction (2nd dimension of courtship)? Did you show it via flirtation (3rd dimension)? Did you demonstrate via how you dressed, wore your hair, that you desired them (4th dimension)?
If I continue on, you will likely notice all the ways in which you "fell in love" with your spouse. If you compare it to your current life, your answers may have changed a bit This is good to notice. We can enliven our spark again by creating that sense of newness and playfulness in our current relationship.
Get creative. List your non-sexual bucket list items as well as your sensual items that you would like to explore with your partner. Note: Sensual has do with your senses-sights, sounds, smells and physical sensations (putting lotion on your or your partner's hands is a sensual/sensate experience); thus, it is not all about sex (I explain this in further detail in my webinar). How can you share these wants with your partner to create a sense of freshness in your relationship? A sense of seeing your partner through new eyes? Can you see YOU through new eyes too?
Where there is mystery, a spark ignites...
Maybe you didn't know your partner was as adventurous until they share with you that they want to go sky diving, or climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Perhaps your spouse wins an award and you hear him/her speak and the way their mouth moves lights you up inside. Notice that mystery! Notice that newness! As you date yourself in this process, you will likely have similar experiences with finding out the newness of YOU!
Get creative when thinking of dating yourself and your spouse, otherwise you will be back to square one with feeling bored again. Both of you need to partake in deciding what to do that sparks newness.
If you can find ways to date the one (or if you are in a poly relationship, ones) you love, you will begin to enhance the freshness, newness, and organic connectivity that you experienced in the beginning. You will also create a sense of mystery. In the long run, this will be much more fulfilling than snuggling up to your mobile device before bedtime. By dating yourself regularly, you too will keep the freshness of YOU alive.
And isn't that really what life is about? Experiencing an awakening, a freshness in our daily lives where we feel new, expansive, and everlasting?
You are precious, dear ones....
Aloha and Namasté,
Sign up for my on-going 12-Week Art of Ecstasy Webinar! It will change you FOREVER! Learn ways you disconnect and deprive yourself of intimacy and how to re-connect and self/other nurture; past "love stories" that get in our way of consciously connecting; how to connect sensually in a non-sexual way and why that is important sexually; the dimensions of courtship and where your strengths and struggles lie, the 4-Dimensions of Sexual Experience, and more!! Watch the recordings at your leisure in the privacy of your own home! https://www.smore.com/qgn8r