Relationship with Others

“Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.
That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.”

~Emily Kimbrough

Cultivating exceptional relationships with others is one of the most courageous, wondrous things you can do.

You, paired with another, can be magnificently more than the sum of your parts, especially when the relationship is acknowledged as an extraordinary vehicle for personal growth, profound partnerships and spiritual path.

For your cultivation, you’ll need some tools for a strong foundation, as well as some descriptions and distinctions, exercises and information to support you to build on that foundation.

So, here is all of that – and more – so you can cultivate your relationships with others into their brilliance, as they are meant to be.

You can play and get hurt.

Laying Your Strong Foundation:

  • Getting in the Game
  • No One Can Be Everything For You
  • Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
  • The Three Pillars
  • Listening & Acknowledgment
  • Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
  • On Upset, Anger & Conflict

Building on Your Strong Foundation:

  • Communication: 5 Vital Points
  • Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
  • Patterns of Intimacy
  • A Note About Jealousy
  • Becoming More Attractive
  • Maintaining Attraction


Getting in the Game

You can play and get hurt.

Or you can NOT play and get hurt. Your choice.

What do I mean by the "getting in the game" of relationships?

By "game," I mean a set of activities with parameters, objectives and rules in which the players are involved wholeheartedly.

As with any game, you can sit in the stands and WATCH the game, or you can roll up your sleeves and get IN the game. Since either way, you're going to get dirty and hurt, I invite you to get your bum out of the bleachers, into the game and to play full out.

I in no way mean "game" in the sense of frivolity or insincerity.

I DO mean "getting in the relationship game" to be engaged with your full and whole self, rather than watching or commenting or reserving parts of yourself at a safe distance.

There is no way to get through this enigma of life without getting hurt. And there is no way to have an extraordinary relationship without getting hurt. (Although you may have noticed that you have developed many strategies banking on just that possibility!)

I suggest, since getting hurt is inevitable, why not go for it? Play the biggest game there is, the one that will teach you the most, get you the most love, wring out of you the most love you have to give, and offer you an extraordinary existence.

Get in the game of cultivating your model relationships.

Getting in the game might not be your thing. It is not for the faint of heart, and there are certainly easier ways to go through life that demand much less of you.

But if it is your thing, and if you want to play and play well, you need information, skills and tools that you probably never got.

And once you are IN, this is what the following pages are full of.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game

Go on to No One Can Be Everything For You
Go on to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Go on to The Three Pillars
Go on to Listening & Acknowledgment
Go on to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


No One Can Be Everything For You

"Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each
to see the other whole against the sky."

~Rainer Maria Rilke

No one can be everything for you.

And to expect it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on any relationship.

It is understandable in relationships to be confused and you think you are looking for someone who will be "your other half," who will complete you, make you whole, make you look good, be everything for you, fix you. you name it. This is a huge misunderstanding, although common as the cold.

In an extraordinary relationship – a relationship that you have defined or re-defined – at the end of the day, you and your partner are two separate, whole, autonomous beings traveling down the same road together, looking out over the same cliff, holding hands, watching each other's backs.

You may be navigating the game of life together, giving and receiving love, intimacy, trust, commitment, but to operate as though you can own another, can control another, or are only complete with another, is a recipe for relationship fizzling and suffering.

Realizing that no one person can be everything for you is the first step in cultivating a rare relationship.

But there is much more.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You

Go on to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Go on to The Three Pillars
Go on to Listening & Acknowledgment
Go on to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Getting on The Same Page as Your Partner

"Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you.
They are not perfect but are always perfect for you."

~Author Unknown

The first question is, do you want to have this kind of extraordinary relationship?

Really, the answer may be a NO. Or it may be a NO for your partner.

It is not for everyone. Some people have different goals and ways to achieve their goals. And some people are not interested in going deep and doing the sometimes hard or painful work, and they will settle for OK. And some people prefer an easy, trophy on the arm type relationship. It takes all kinds.

But know where you stand, and where your partner stands.

And if your partner is a man, looking for more clarity around where he stands, he can check out For Guys Only.

There are many things the vehicle of relationship can offer you, many goals a relationship can help you work toward, like companionship, working on a shared project like raising a child or having a business together. It can support you both to learn, to grow, to work beyond issues that stop you in having intimacy and love in your life. It may be a singularly tangy concoction of a few or all of those.

But the point is to get on the same page with your partner, so you are not angling and expecting one thing and your partner another set of things, both of you feeling put upon, expecting something they are not interested in giving or experiencing, or something they don't even know you want.

Should you be with this person if you don't have the same goals?

I don't necessarily think so. You can have different criteria for what makes a great relationship, but the more you are clear about it, and understand the ways you share interests and goals, and the ways you don't, the more you have a lucid, co-created relationship. And the more you have a relationship that is based on both of your realities, your goals, and what is really true for you both.

And then your relationship supports you to be MORE because of being together, not LESS.

Want to get acquainted with the foundational elements for any relationship? Go on to The Three Pillars.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner

Go on to The Three Pillars
Go on to Listening & Acknowledgment
Go on to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


The Three Pillars

"When in doubt, tell the truth."
~ Mark Twain

OK, I will assume that since you are here, reading this website, that you DO want this – an epic love, an extraordinary relationship, a vehicle for transformation, magic, evolution, discovery, co-creation, learning, fun and joy.

Trust, Intimacy and Communication are The Three Pillars – or keystones – that when strong, offer sound structure to any relationship and allow it to grow into a glorious thing.

Trust

Here's what the good old dictionary has to say on the matter:

1 firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone

or something: relations have to be built on trust | they have been

able to win the trust of the others.

I used to notice in an argument or discussion, that one moment I was talking to my ally, and then suddenly it was as though I was talking to my opponent. I felt like we had suddenly gone to opposite teams, and I wondered where the partner I loved had gone.

Trust is getting on, and staying on, the same team.

For trust to flourish, you've got to have your partner's back, they must be able to rely on the validity of your word, and your actions must match your words. And same for your partner.

Intimacy

It is a type of closeness in which you can reveal all of yourself and still be accepted. It is a space in which your fears and weaknesses are welcomed alongside successes and brilliances, a space in which you experience being fully seen and accepted. Probably, you desire intimacy above most things. And even so, you are likely afraid of it, often avoid it, or maybe even sabotage it.

The root of loneliness is the burden of feeling that you could not possibly share all of yourself with another. It is your self-doubt, that you are too much, too gross, too imperfect, too undeserving of love to admit to another.

It is your hiding and pretending that creates a space of dishonesty, which inhibits intimacy. When you can stop always having to look good, when we can tell it like it is, a space opens up for you to be all of yourself. And that is magic, fertile ground. That is intimacy.

Communication

Communication, when used in service to the health of your relationship, is a different animal than conversation. It is more than two or more people talking and exchanging information. Communication is a shared experience of deep listening and of self-expression. As human beings we have a deep need both to express ourselves, and to be listened to.

This is a big one, an area you have likely found yourself snarled up in many times, and I will go more into depth shortly, in the section, Communication: 5 Vital Points.

In case you didn't notice, all of the three pillars mentioned above are different displays of honesty. Honesty is the umbrella under which the pillars rest. Without honesty – and its manifestations as trust, intimacy and communication – you don't have a relationship, you have a lie. If you cant be honest, if you cannot tell the truth, you have a relationship that doesn't exist.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars

Go on to Listening & Acknowledgment
Go on to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Listening and Acknowledgment

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.
Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is
our attention.. A loving silence often has far more power to heal
and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Listening

You so often don't really listen. You are thinking about something else while the other person is talking, for example, like what you are going to say next, or about what you are going to eat for dinner. Rarely do you really hear them, really listen to them.

One of the main things that we crave as human being is to be heard, to be truly seen, to be understood. Rarely does that craving get met. An amazing thing happens when you really feel you are being listened to. You can express yourself, understand yourself, you feel respected, valued, your passion and clarity have a fertile ground on which to land, rather than being met with deaf or preoccupied ears.

Try it out, just once, today:

  • Simply listen when someone is talking to you. It doesn't have to be your partner, it can be anyone. Just listen.
  • Don't think about your grocery list, the funny way their mouth moves, or your response.
  • Keep your attention on them, and if you notice your attention wander, bring it back to what they are saying.
  • Observe what happens – how do you feel? What do you notice about the other person?

Listening is a fundamental, under-utilized, powerful tool in relationships.

Acknowledgment

"Present your family and friends with their eulogies now –
they won't be able to hear how much you love them and
appreciate them from inside the coffin."

~Anonymous

Acknowledgement can take the form of a compliment, a thanks, a recognition, an approval.

It is the act of generously drawing attention to what is so, about yourself or another. But it must be genuine. Acknowledgment can't be fake or faked. The other person can smell it if you are faking. But true, honest acknowledgement is the surest, quickest way to open a heart, melt a heart. It is a great gift.

Acknowledgement is another fundamental tool, often overlooked, due to rampant stinginess. What's the stingy bit? Perhaps you've felt that if you paid someone else a compliment, it would somehow point out a deficiency in you, or that to put someone up by default puts you down. Or if you talked about good fortune, it would be diminished.

These are all grave misunderstandings. To keep good things to yourself shrinks their goodness. Expressing them, celebrating them, makes their goodness exponential.

Acknowledging what is so is always a blessing. Acknowledgement is the ground from which real communication, true trust and sweet intimacy can spring.

To get a better handle on these and practice them both in your actual life, I invite you to sign up for my E-Course, as there are exercises for listening and for acknowledgement in weeks 3 and 7.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment

Go on to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

"Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment."
~ Pearl S. Buck

Kind of like you are what you eat, you are what you say.

Your words express your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Your words also create your reality, and so you have great power and responsibility in your words.

It can be hard to figure out exactly what you are feeling, thinking or wanting, let alone how to express that accurately to another. I want to offer you a few tools for powerful self-expression, not only in what you express, but the intention in that expression.

Say What You Mean

Your emotions, thoughts and feelings are all signals, and it is necessary to decode them, so that you understand what they mean to you, and so that you are able to convey them to another.

Emotions, thoughts and feelings that go unacknowledged, wither, like a limb that atrophies. Emotions, thoughts and feelings that go unexpressed – to yourself or to others – become figurative scar tissue, they limit your emotional flexibility and resiliency.

Expressing yourself is an attempt to capture and convey your thoughts, emotions or feelings. Expression can be frustrating sometimes because at the end of the day, it is an approximation, not exact.

If you've got a particularly sticky or elusive thing going on, it might help to talk to someone neutral who can ask you questions and draw it out of you. Or it might help to write it out, journal on it, or to speak it into a tape recorder.

Although you may never perfectly convey what you mean, you want to develop the skill to be able to get as close as possible in expressing what is your truth, your experience, your want, desire, confusion, request. The clarity of knowing yourself in this way unburdens you, has you show up as the real you, and gives you fluidity and flexibility in communication.

Mean What You Say

Meaning what you say is having clarity, conviction and commitment in your words. You are what you say, and you are what you say you will do. If you say it, but know you don't really mean it, or say it and are not sure that you can do it, you are mis-aligned: you are not being as grand a person as you can be, nor as powerful.

It might start out good: you've figured out what you want to convey, but somewhere in the communication of it, you say other unrelated things, often out of reactivity or anger.

You fall short of saying what you really intended to say, and you also end up saying things you don't really mean, that were not in line with your original purpose for communicating.

Be careful what you say. The saying of something makes it so – it is the first step in its manifestation into being.

That might sound a bit woo-woo, but trust me when I say that your words are more powerful than you give them credit for. Being reactive, or lashing out is like being a bull in a china shop – you don't know your own length and girth, your don't know your own power.

It isn't an easy thing to communicate consciously and powerfully, but is a necessary skill and an asset for successful relating. I go more into depth into the dynamics of communication in Communication: 5 Vital Points.

But it is helpful first to understand a bit more about Upset, Anger and Conflict: why you get reactive or lash out and what it is that turns your originally well-meaning self-expression into a hurling of insults and perpetuation of misunderstandings.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Upset, Anger and Conflict

"Upsets always contain the gift of learning, except most people have never learned how to unwrap the package."
~Layne and Paul Cutright

You are never angry or upset for the reason you think.

It is rarely the current situation that is actually the root of your anger or upset. The current situation is triggering an earlier incident, modeling an earlier occurrence, and is showing up again now, as powerful as when it first showed up.

You think the upset is about now, but it is really about then.

To review (or look at for the first time) and understand the original time this showed up for you and what you can do about it now, check out Relationship with Yourself: How You Are Wired and What to Do About It.

Anger and upset are powerful experiences, and are not to be squelched, denied or repressed. But to experience them is different then acting them out. Anger's action is to destroy, burn, annihilate. Not THAT useful in communication with someone you care about.

So the idea is to use the power of anger and use it not to destroy, but to communicate.

I see any conflict as an opportunity.

I go so far as to see conflict as a chance to learn something really important. It's like in a video game. You go through this boiling lake and scale a slippery slope and fend off a wild beast or two, all to get a key that unlocks the door, and allows you to play the next level of the game. No conflict, no struggle, no key. No key, no next level.

In a moment of upset or conflict, that other person has something – whether they know it cognizantly or not – that you need to hear. The universe has organized itself skillfully in presenting you with conflict. It is giving you a gift, wrapped in funny wrapping paper.

Open it, you get the key to the next level. Run from it, ignore it, do battle with it, no key to the next level. Repeat the same level over and over again.

I am going to give you some magic tools for diffusing anger or upset to put in your toolbox, tools that I really should not give you until I meet you in person, they are so magical. But I am feeling magnanimous and I also want you to have extraordinarily delicious relationships, so will give them to you in the next section, Communication: 5 Vital Points.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Go on to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Go on to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


The 5 Vital Points of Communication

I characterize constructive, healthy communication as "Engaged Detachment."

Engaged because firstly, you recognize that you are speaking with someone you care about, and so you remain connected, your heart and mind participating, and you don't hide behind a façade of rationality or emotional distance.

Detached because you are keeping a little space between you and your possible combustible emotional flares. The bit of distance allows you to keep from getting reactive, hot under the collar, disengaged or defensive.

Engaged detachment allows you to focus on your "desired outcome."

A desired outcome in healthy, constructive communication is usually all or one of the following: to express your truth, really hear the truth of the other, get on and stay on the same team, learn from the conflict presenting itself, create new ways of relating or "ground rules" so you don't do the same pattern over again next time, and to have a better understanding of yourself and your partner at the end of the conversation.

Know that your ultimate goal in healthy, great communication is your desired outcome. Am I right to assume you rarely consider it? Keep your eye on the goal, rather than getting swept up into reactivity, anger, upset, shutting down, walking away, blame or lashing out. Hold your tongue back a bit in favor of your end game.

You have the ability – and responsibility – to steer any conversation toward your desired outcome, toward understanding, health and intimacy.

5 Vital Points for Constructive, Healthy Communication:

1. Deep, Spacious Listening

Humans have a deep need both to feel heard and to express what they are feeling and thinking. Your excellent listening provides the space not only for their self-expression but also for them to experience being heard in a profound way.

2. What You Heard, What They Said

What you hear is often a far cry from what the person intended. Since language is an approximation, we all interpret the same words in often vastly different ways. Sometimes it is necessary to separate what happened from the story you made up about what happened.

A good rule of thumb is to repeat back to your partner what you think they just said: "So, here's what I think I just heard you say. You are feeling/thinking."

Stopping to clarify in this way can save you so much of the pain that comes from the build-up of repeated misunderstanding.

3. Diffusing Reactivity

First off, consider that you might want to try and say it differently. If someone is responding as though they haven't heard you, no matter how many times you have said it before, they are not stupid, you have not said it in a way they can hear, and they simply have not heard you. Say it differently, using different words, tone or intention.

Want to know more ways to diffuse an upset or conflict? How to cool it all down enough to restore some rationality, create some space for some real communication? I thought you might.

There is no one right way to do this, but all ways require some patience, and the keeping of your end game – your desired outcome – in mind.

These are generalizations, since all men and women are different and unique, but for the grand majority, they hold true. And I hope it goes without saying that none of these will work unless they are 100% genuine and from your heart.

If you are talking to a woman:

• Tell her that you love her. Often in an upset, a woman will feel that you no longer love her, or that because you are angry, she is losing your love.

• Tell her that you are not leaving her. In a highly emotional and heated situation, especially if you walk away or become emotionally distant, women can become triggered and feel like you are leaving for good.

• Make physical contact with her, like a touch or a hug. Physical contact is grounding and calming like nothing else, and reminds her of your presence. She will stop worrying that you are out of there, and will then be open to hear what you have to say.

If you are talking to a man:

• Acknowledge him. Tell him some way he has touched you, impressed you, something he has done well. Thank him. This opens him up to let down his guard and hear you.

• Consider your timing. Can he hear you right now or would you do better to wait until later?

• Give him space. Sometimes guys need to take a long time to answer you, or they need to go away for a while and figure it out. If you give him space, he will come back with something great.

• Give him a problem to solve. Guys come in to their element when there is a way for them to show up as a hero, when there is something that they can fix. Consider posing your communication in the form of a problem for them to solve.

By diffusing reactivity, the other person will not feel like you are suddenly the aggressor or opponent, but will feel like you still have their back.

When you are both on the same team, they are open to hear you and move forward with you.

4. Take Responsibility For Your Part

Check in: where's the truth in what they are saying?

As I mentioned before, in a conflict, there is always a lesson being tossed your way. There is always something to be learned, a way in which you can shift or grow. Don't miss it, or it will be back to bite you in the ass later. Where might they be pointing out a real issue, some nasty thing you do but don't want to admit you do?

Take responsibility, own up to it, cop to the thing they are consciously or unconsciously pointing out to you. Tell them, speak it, bring it up.

It might suck to do this. In fact, it usually really sucks, but it always brings you both to the next level in healthy communication. My dad, a mathematician and computer programmer, has an acronym for this phenomenon: AFGO. Which stands for, Another Fucking Growth Opportunity.

Need a refresher on the ins and outs of taking radical personal responsibility? Go to Taking Radical Personal Responsibility.

5. Co-Creating Language and Ground Rules

These are my favorite parts. I am big on learning from my mistakes so I don't keep doing them again.

Co-Creating Language:

I love the co-creation of shared language between me and my partner. It seems to me that our customized collection of short-hand, definitions, colloquialisms, mannerisms, signals, jargon and inside jokes is a full-on language, unique to us, in which we can communicate brilliantly and subtly with each other.

Co-Creating Ground Rules:

I also like the process of creating what I call "ground rules. These differ greatly from relationship to relationship. They are the co-created guidelines that you lay down to keep you both on track and on the same page, and that serve you both toward bringing and keeping you higher and closer.

Try asking your partner, "How can I do things differently so that this doesn't come up again? How can I communicate in a way that doesn't trigger this for you again, make you defensive, reactive, etc?"

This is a two way street, of course. Your partner needs to take responsibility and ask the same of you, as well. Ground rules don't work unless they are developed and adopted by both parties!

Want to go more into some of actual subjects of communication, the very reasons you are attempting to communicate in the first place? Go to The Nature of Vulnerability, Shame and Fear.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points

Go on to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Vulnerability, Shame & Fear

"I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
~ Pablo Picasso

The Nature of Vulnerability

The Latin root of the word means, "to wound" or "a wound," kind of like a hole in your armour where a spear could get in. Vulnerabilities are soft or tender spots, where once you were hurt and could very well be again.

It would seem that anything that lets in pain is a weakness. So it follows that since a vulnerability seems to be a place that lets in the pain, it is a weakness and should therefore be avoided, shoved into a dark hole, hidden away. The reasoning goes, if no one has the chance to notice your particular brand of vulnerability, they will not find reason to reject you, right? So, it is a natural reaction to cover up your vulnerabilities to avoid getting hurt.

But you know what I always say, you can play and get hurt, or you can NOT play and get hurt. Your choice.

Covering up or denying your vulnerabilities doesn't insure that you will avoid getting hurt.

Pain is inevitable. In fact, you may very well get hurt from sharing a vulnerability, just like you might get hurt in all the other myriad ways life messes with us all.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

And what causes you suffering (in terms of vulnerabilities) is the hiding away of the vulnerability. Stay with me here on this one. The hiding away of soft spots and weakness creates shame, and created shame is another form of suffering.

Vulnerabilities are not in and of themselves a weakness. I say it is the covering up or denying of vulnerability that is a weakness.

Here's where vulnerabilities can turn from a liability to an asset: I look at vulnerabilities as though they have something to say, something you need to learn or master. A vulnerability is not intrinsically bad or wrong or shameful, just IS, it is a part of you. Letting your vulnerabilities be, and listening to what they have to tell you, is a strength.

And vulnerabilities not only have a special fun gift, just for you, but they are also, surprisingly, a means for intimate connection. You do all this effort to have your vulnerabilities out of the picture so that you can look real good, be more lovable and be better prepared for connection and intimacy. But the opposite is true.

The big brain scramble is that it is the sharing of a vulnerability that often creates the intimacy.

Suddenly, what you thought was your weakness becomes your strength.

The Nature of Shame

Shame is a weight, a distance, a wall between you and others, shame is a deterrent to intimacy. And anything that blocks intimacy causes suffering.

Shame is a camouflaged, misunderstood thing. It is through the negating, denying, covering up and hiding that shame comes, not, as it would seem, through the HAVING of a vulnerability. Vulnerability and shame are separate things, fused together unnecessarily, and the side-effect of that fusing is your suffering.

Vulnerabilities and weakness can be endearing and loveable, they only feel shameful when they are carrying the energy of being hidden and denied. The less you hide, deny, run from, lie, deflect a vulnerability or weakness, the more shame is released, the more intimacy is available, the more unfettered you become, to act like the brilliant being you are.

The Nature of Fear

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear should probably have its own page, its own website in fact, it is such a big, misunderstood beastie.

Fear is like pain in that it is part of the package of life. It's not like if you play the game of life – or the game of relationships, for that matter – skillfully enough eventually you will eliminate all experiences of pain or fear. That, my friends, is not the way it works.

In fact, fear can be a great friend, a great teacher, an awesome phenomenon I am not all that sure it is best to eradicate entirely. Fear is akin to conflict or an upset, in that it is pointing out an area for you behind which there is a great gem of your learning or growth, waiting for your excavation.

Here's something crazy:

As a rule, rather than running away, walk toward fear. Consider it your guide, indicating your best path.

Guess where you get courage from? Not in the absence of fear, but acting EVEN THOUGH you have fear. In fact, you get the courage to do a thing, AFTER you have done the thing.

You probably have a fear so great, so raw, that you would NEVER tell anyone. Think for a moment, what yours is. You might have more than one. It is likely that you are afraid that if you share this fear, it is more likely to come to pass, and it is more likely that you will be rejected, proven unlovable.

The funny part is everyone has their particular version, and if they tell it to you, it often sounds tame, like "they are afraid of that?"

In my in-person workshops, I walk everyone through an exercise in which each person's greatest fear becomes their greatest asset. As we go through the exercise, hearing each person's most fearsome fear, something unexpected starts to happen.

The participants start to like each other more, feel more connected, start laughing and having more fun, and bond on a sweet, intimate level. None of these are side effects you would expect when you think about walking right up to the lion's mouth and inserting your head – exposing your greatest fear.

Any fear, like vulnerability or a weakness, when shared or accepted, is a quick and magical way to deep connection, greater joy, and intimacy.

To learn more about my in-person workshops, check out Upcoming Events.

Vulnerability, Shame, and Fear – all of these emotions just want to be loved, accepted, have light shone upon them, just like you do.

And just like you flourish with love and acceptance, these emotions, when not hidden or beaten down, can flourish – that is, give you the lessons they were designed to give you, and lead you toward unexpected connection and intimacy.

Who woulda thunk?

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Back to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear

Go on to Patterns of Intimacy
Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Patterns of Intimacy

Intimacy is a space you share with another, in which you are the closest it is possible to be with another human being, in which you couldn't be any closer.

Intimacy is a moment of truth sharing, of being emotionally or otherwise naked, and that being OK – in fact, better than OK, welcomed, honored, and loved.

You crave intimacy, but you keep yourself from it.

You are, like most human beings, afraid of intimacy, mainly because you think if you reveal a part of you that you have otherwise covered up and denied and compensated for, it will be exposed as a reason for someone to reject you. Show the real you, get left, is the erroneous belief.

It is the hiding and covering and pretending to be something other than you are, that blocks intimacy. The sharing of a fear – or any truth about yourself, really – is what creates room for intimacy to be.

The space of intimacy is sort of the opposite of the tough shell we need to walk around and do work and survive in the world. So we get to open up, become available to intimacy, through different ways, and those ways are different, usually, for men and for women.

For women, our intimacy pattern is spiralic.

We move toward intimate situations in a steady path, always closer, always deeper. Men can be very confronted by this, because they are not ready for more or to go deeper just yet. They need to digest what they're chewing on already and digest that, before they want more.

Men have a pattern of intimacy that is a bit like, "Approach, Retreat, Regroup, Repeat."

They dip in for some intimacy, take in their capacity, and then need to high-tail it out of there and get some space. When they've had enough, they come back for some more closeness. Repeat pattern.

Women can be really confused by this. You share this really intimate moment with a guy, and next thing you know, he takes off, leaving you wanting more and wanting to go deeper, wondering what the hell just happened, feeling confused and hurt. Why wouldn't he want more, or to go deeper?

If you can understand and respect the differing patterns of intimacy that men and women have, it takes the confusion, misunderstanding, hurt and sting out of it all.

And makes it possible for intimacy to flourish.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Back to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Back to Patterns of Intimacy

Go on to A Note About Jealousy
Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


A Note About Jealousy

I hate to sound like a broken record here, but jealousy, like upset or conflict, will keep arising in you, over and over again, until you look it square in the face and truly get what it is trying to tell you.

Said differently, jealousy is a strangely wrapped gift, with something important for you inside, and you will keep getting the gift, maybe with slightly different wrapping, until you open it and get out the important thing.

Pluck the gem that is contained in the jealousy, or keep experiencing jealousy, like a hamster on a wheel.

If you've already forgotten how upsets or conflicts can be great gifts, consider revisiting On Upset, Anger and Conflict. If you want a refresher on getting OFF the hamster wheel – shifting a pattern, go to Shifting Any Pattern: 3 Simple Steps.

Jealousy comes in many forms. You might feel that someone has something – like looks, or a partner or a job – that you covet or wish was yours. Or you might react to someone's action and feel lied to, cheated, like the rules got broken, or that something is going on behind your back.

Jealousy, unchecked, brings with it doubt, insecurity, anxiety, possessiveness, stinginess, suspicion, etc. Any way it comes, you feel like you are losing, that someone is taking something from you, or that they have something you want or need. Not that fun.

Once you figure out the gift inside the jealousy, then comes a chance to create better ground rules. Things like anger, upset, conflict and jealousy always help you co-create tailor-made ground rules with your self as well as your partner. Jealousy can help you better understand and define what kind of ground-rules you need to feel trust, to feel solid, to feel like your partner has your back. Or to be those things for yourself.

Extraordinary relationships are no place for lying or cheating. If you are cheating, you are lying, If you are lying, you have a relationship that might as well not exist. You cannot be trusted with someone's heart or confidence if you are lying or cheating. End of story.

You can take responsibility for your jealousy, glean what it has to offer you, and build the ground rules you need for a strong foundation of trust in your relationship.

One good rule of thumb is that if you are repeatedly experiencing jealousy, you have not understood the gift it has for you, and you and your partner do not yet have a strong set of ground rules to keep both of your hearts safe and secure.

If you are creating a traditional or non-traditional monogamous relationship, you need strong ground rules co-created by you and your partner, as well as strong trust, which I call "emotional monogamy." Jealousy is free to arise, but it is seen as a teacher.

This is the tip of the iceberg of Jealousy, to be sure. It deserves to be well understood so that it does not stand in the way of your trust, intimacy or joy in any of your relationships. To get more into jealousy and hear an example of one of the amazing concepts my partner and I have developed as a result of jealousy, read about my concept of the "Energetic Container" in On Beyond Monogamy in the "Secret Subjects" section.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Back to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Back to Patterns of Intimacy
Back to A Note About Jealousy

Go on to Becoming More Attractive
Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Becoming More Attractive

"Do you love me because I'm beautiful, or am I beautiful because you love me?"
~ Oscar Hammerstein, II

Yes, there are superficial things that have a good bit to do with attraction.

There is a place for a nice ass, a great car, gorgeous eyes, a lovely singing voice – or whatever does it for you. Some of those superficial things you can cultivate or bring out in yourself, and some of them you just have or don't have this incarnation.

But that is not what I want to talk about here.

I want to talk about the profound things that can have you become more and more attractive.

Boiling it down to the simplest terms, being more attractive is being unabashedly, unapologetically who you are. Loving what you love, doing your bliss, radiating the being you ARE.

The unfettered you is wildly, deliciously attractive.

Mainly, though, you block your essence, second guess yourself, try to be the facsimile of someone attractive, or imitate the models of attractiveness you see around you.

You never even give yourself a chance to be the big, brilliant being you are. It is hard to celebrate yourself, to be radiant, when you are constantly weighed down with the effort of trying to be something you are not.

What attracts a man to a woman is her radiance, her light and her delight shining out of her.

On one level, yes, he might be a leg man or a breast man, but what will seize his heart and his devotion is the radiant YOU. For a man, women are like an IV drip of pure life, replete with all its changes, surprises, nourishments and anguishes. Without a radiant woman, he is a dry man.

What attracts a woman to a man is his presence, his rooted-ness, his strong, still center, like the eye of the storm.

We women want men to pay bold attention to us, witness us, see us, enjoy us, celebrate us, and bring some rooting and grounding to the storm of creation, flux and change that we are. Of course we are attracted to a myriad of superficial attributes in a man, but without a witness, without grounding, we can be a real mess. We can certainly provide grounding for ourselves, but in playing the game of attraction, we look for it in a man.

There are lots of ingredients in this soup pot of attraction: you become attractive as a result of feeling and acting attractive, because you cultivate your attractiveness, and because others bring it out in their seeing of you.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Back to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Back to Patterns of Intimacy
Back to A Note About Jealousy
Back to Becoming More Attractive

Go on to Maintaining Attraction


Maintaining Attraction

"Love doesn't just sit there like a stone;
it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new."

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

When you boil it down, attraction is like what exists between magnets, between polar opposites.

Attraction is the charged space between two opposing poles, longing to be brought together.

The thing is, though, if opposing magnets spend too much time with each other, they become de-polarized, they lose the charge and tug of attraction.

Maintaining attraction is keeping the magnetic pull strong. I sort of sum up this maintaining attraction thing by saying, "shared projects, separate space."

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.
Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then."

~ Katharine Hepburn

The trick is to have separate space: enough separation between the two magnets – you and your partner – so the coming together is rich and sweet.

Said differently, spend enough time apart so that you miss each other and long to come together.

The trick is also to have both of you be full and powerful in and of yourselves, that the drawing together is all the more incendiary. Spend time apart, be up to what you are up to, be your own magnificent self, become fat and juicy on your own. This is one key to maintaining sensual, sexual, emotional, intellectual, etc attraction.

Another key is to have shared projects: fantastic things that you do together, like projects, hobbies, work, etc. Your shared project might also be simply the time you spend together. Any shared time or space needs to be full and consciously created, rather than the dull, ordinariness of the same-old at the end of a long day apart. For some great tips on this, check out Sensuality Basics in the "Secret Subjects" section.

Maintaining attraction is not an easy thing.

What naturally happens is the entropy of de-polarization between you and your partner. It takes consistent time, effort and creativity to maintain attraction, both in the time you spend consciously apart as well as in the time you spend consciously together. Maintaining attraction is an active, constant process. Attraction, like any living, breathing thing, needs feeding, watering, it needs care and attention.

And this is right about where it starts to get really interesting!

Take a leap into the advanced section, Secret Subjects, for things like Pain and Suffering: A Brief Introduction, Sexuality as Spirituality, Nature of the Mind, On Beyond Monogamy, and Sensuality Basics. Or start working on it all in the laboratory of your own life: Working Together.

Back to Relationship with Others
Back to Getting in the Game
Back to No One Can Be Everything For You
Back to Getting on The Same Page with Your Partner
Back to The Three Pillars
Back to Listening & Acknowledgment
Back to Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Back to On Upset, Anger & Conflict
Back to Communication: 5 Vital Points
Back to Nature of Vulnerability, Shame & Fear
Back to Patterns of Intimacy
Back to A Note About Jealousy
Back to Becoming More Attractive
Back to Maintaining Attraction

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