By Dr. April Minatrea - Clinical PsychologistFeb 10, 2017

Love can’t be earned, it can only be given.  – Donald Miller, Scary Close

 

Intimacy is seeing and being seen…knowing and being known.

Honor is the seeing part of the equation.  If you walk in the door and your spouse doesn’t acknowledge you—doesn’t even look up from their phone, you have not been honored…you have not been seen.  Intimacy is not going to happen.

Honor also means seeing the good.  If you walk in and they lay into you –“You’re late!  Where on earth have you been?  And you don’t even bother to call?”—you have been seen, but not honored.  Again, this will not lead to intimacy.

Contrast that with how it feels when you walk in and they stop long enough to look up, smile, and if even if it’s unspoken, say with their eyes, “I’m happy to see you!”  You have been honored.  It is a safe environment for intimacy.  That’s what honor does: makes it safe for vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the being seen part of the equation.  It means letting someone see the real you, what you really think and really feel.  Being authentic can be scary.  We fear that if someone sees the real us—flaws and all—they won’t love us.  But love that has to be earned by being “good enough” is no love at all.  It is when we are loved in spite of our flaws that we know we are truly loved.  The only way to experience that is to stop hiding our imperfections—to be vulnerable.

Our vulnerability also serves as a way of honoring the other person, saying, “I believe you are trustworthy.” Honoring them with your vulnerability makes it safe for them to be vulnerable with you, too.  That brings closeness and connection that creates intimacy.

These dynamics operate across all of our relationships (not just romantic ones) and on multiple levels—physical, emotional, and spiritual.  So if you’d like to feel more connected, consider: How can I honor others? Am I willing to take the risk to be vulnerable and be my true self?