Once you’ve laid the foundation by developing critical relationship skills and acquiring essential self-awareness, you are ready to engage your partner in new and deeper ways.
The Seven Facets of Deep Connection
1. Offering Safety
From the time we exit the womb to the time we leave this world, safety is a primary concern. It’s been said that our brains are wired for war, not for love. This is a simple reference to the survival of our species. We have to be alert to threat at all times. That’s how we survive. Our primary concern is safety. Without a sense of safety real connection is impossible. Without safety we are left with only one option…self-defense. The ability to offer safety to our partner is critical to achieving a deep and positive connection.
2. Generating Respect
Love is nice but respect is where the “rubber meets the road.” The love that comes without respect can feel shallow and manipulative. Respect comes in two forms—self-respect and respect for the other. Both are essential to deep and positive connection.
3. Building Trust
The fact that I need to trust my partner is, by most people’s estimation, a “no brainer.” It’s simple. Trust is vital. But, is it that simple? The exercise of trust requires a willingness to risk. Trust without risk is hollow. It doesn’t mean anything. And then there’s the distinction between me trusting you and my own trustworthiness. It’s important that both of us be trustworthy. Deep and positive connection requires the ability to take risks and the experience of trust.
4. Employing Courage
It’s been said there are two kinds of people--people who are afraid of freedom and people who are afraid of limits. That’s probably true. But, the important thing to note is that everyone is afraid. None of us is perfect…of course. Connecting deeply with an imperfect partner is frightening and, therefore, requires a substantial dose of courage. Moving into the depths of intimacy is not for the faint of heart.
5. Experiencing Vulnerability
An important measure of relationship quality is the extent to which each partner is open to being influenced. In good relationships, partners allow themselves to be influenced by each other. In bad relationships, each has a wall up to guard against input from the other. Experiencing vulnerability by—being open to your partner’s influence—allows for deep and positive connection.
6. Engaging Paradox
Meaningful relationships are fraught with complexity. They are very simple on the one hand and incredibly complicated on the other. They are always paradoxical. The more you give to your partner, the more you have. The more each submits to the other the stronger each is. Engaging paradoxes like these deepens connection in ways that are sometimes hard to put into words. Love reimagined is able to encompass both sides of the paradoxes we live.
7. Re-Imagining Love
The poverty of the English language when it comes to conversations about love is legendary. We have one word that is supposed to cover a spectrum of experiences. I love pizza! I love my newborn! These two experiences are light years apart. A love reimagined recognizes the fact that love is not just another emotion among all the others we experience. It is qualitatively different. It exists in a realm of its own. It might not even have words to describe it.