What is Radical Intimacy - A New Definition
What is Radical Intimacy? – A New Definition
The word radical literally means going to the root or source of something. In the context of a romantic relationship, radical intimacy means giving one’s Beloved total access to one’s inner being (source, root) in a continuing act of loving self-revelation and sacrifice and receiving the inner being (source, root) of one’s Beloved as a precious and sacred gift.
Total access to one’s inner being does not mean that we necessarily communicate every thought, feeling or memory that exists in our minds. It does mean that we sacrifice gladly our ego defenses and allow our partner to see who we really were, are and hope to be. This process can be frightening and extremely difficult if it is attempted outside the context of romantic love. But romantic love creates a very special atmosphere in which we find the courage and the ability to bare our souls with our Beloved and in that process find a new and glorious vision of self and the other.
Radical intimacy, in the hands of romantic love, becomes a process that shapes our daily interaction with our Beloved. It introduces us to a level of non-defensive vulnerability that allows a heart-to-heart flow of communication of words, touch, seeing and being seen and emotion that is almost completely unavailable to the non-initiated. Here, two lovers enter a world of closeness and intense sensitivity that transcends normal relationship. They slip easily past the boundaries and blunders of immaturity, defensiveness, sarcasm, hurt, anger and misunderstanding into a space of tenderness, gentleness, gratefulness and joy. Conflict becomes minimal and almost non-existent and in its place emerges an ever growing experience of grace and preciousness that permeates every interaction.
Radical intimacy produces a non-ordinary experience of relationship. It is so unusual that even its joy becomes difficult to tolerate and most couples will, after they have reached their toleration point, begin to unconsciously generate behavior that erodes it. This can occur in various ways but immaturity usually provides the most effective intimacy-blocking behavior. Couples at this stage will say hurtful childish things, become irritated by relatively insignificant habits or comments, add sarcasm to humor, offer criticism at inopportune moments and embarrass each other in public. The list is endless but the effects are immediate, and the doorway to deep closeness begins to shut. In weeks the thrill disappears and a new status quo of livable distance is established. Sadly, it is in this state that the majority of committed relationships live out their existence. Romance and the special connection it created are gone and a new sort of toleration takes root and the myth, that romantic love cannot endure, rules.
The problem, contrary to popular opinion, even including those professionals that should know better, is not with romantic love and its inherent inability to last. The almost inevitable loss of the wonder and ecstasy of romantic love is due to four heretofore unacknowledged factors: Our inability to tolerate ecstasy and joy, partner inequality, immaturity and lack of radical intimacy skills. The good news is that each of these potentially destructive factors can be attended to so that a couple can rediscover or resurrect their experience of romantic love and allow it to become the defining context for their relationship.
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