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10 Ways to Create a Strong, Intimate Relationship

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” -~Sam Keen

Before I married my wonderful husband, I dated a lot of men. For most of my 20s (and even my early 30s) I had a perfect fairy-ideal of what romantic love was, probably because I was an actress and loved drama back then.

It took years for me to realize a relationship is not a romance movie.

At some point in our lives, we may believe that love should be like the kind of romance we see portrayed in films, television, and novels.

For some reason, I always thought my romantic relationships were less if I did not experience this kind of fairy-tale relationship. Maybe this is why I kept meeting frogs.

At times, I bought into the belief that if I had a relationship with the perfect prince, then all would be well in my life. I thought, Now, I will be safe forever.

In truth, I did marry a prince—but a prince who is also human, who has faults and issues just like every person, no matter how wonderful he is.

At some point I grew up and learned to let go of the crazy metaphor of romantic love in order to find true happiness. Yes, I was disappointed to realize that the knight riding through the night to save the damsel in distress is a fallacy. It’s a bummer.

But, let’s look at it in this light: We all saw Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. Why stories like these make our hearts sing is that the love is unrequited. Unavailability fuels the romantic expression.

This kind of romantic story can only work when there is an absence of the lover. Sometimes, they have to die in the end in order for their love to fit into this romantic view. Or, we eat handfuls of popcorn, waiting to see if they live happily ever after, and we rarely find out if they really do.

The romantic love fantasy is really a substitute for intimacy—real, connected, vulnerable intimacy.

So then, how do we make relationships work and stay happy?

We begin with the understanding of what pure love is, and then redefine and update the romantic fairytale into a healthier type of love.

Here are 10 ways to create true intimacy, find pure love, and be truly happy in your relationship:

1. Use relationships to teach you how to be whole within.

Relationships aren’t about having another person complete you, but coming to the relationship whole and sharing your life interdependently. By letting go of the romantic ideal of merging and becoming “one,” you learn as Rainer Maria Rilke says, to love the distances in relationship as much as the togetherness.

2. See your partner for who he or she really is.

The romantic tragedy occurs when you view the person you are in love with as a symbol of what they have come to represent, the idea of them. When you realize that more often than not you don’t really know your partner, you begin to discover who they are and how they change and evolve.

3. Be willing to learn from each other.

The key is to see the other as a mirror and learn from the reflection how you can be a better person. When you feel upset, rather than blame your partner and point fingers, remain awake to what has yet to be healed in yourself.

4. Get comfortable being alone.

In order to accept that love can’t rescue you from being alone, learn to spend time being with yourself. By feeling safe and secure to be on your own within the framework of relationship, you will feel more complete, happy, and whole.

5. Look closely at why a fight may begin.

Some couples create separateness by fighting and then making up over and over again. This allows you to continue the romantic trance, creating drama and avoiding real intimacy. If you become aware of what you fear about intimacy, you’ll have a better sense of why you’re fighting—and likely will fight far less.

6. Own who you are.

We generally grasp at romantic love because we’re yearning for something that is out of reach, something in another person that we don’t think we possess in ourselves. Unfortunately, when we finally get love, we discover that we didn’t get what we were looking for.

True love only exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you’re willing to give yourself.

7. Embrace ordinariness.

After the fairy-dust start of a relationship ends, we discover ordinariness, and we often do everything we can to avoid it. The trick is to see that ordinariness can become the real “juice” of intimacy. The day-to-day loveliness of sharing life with a partner can, and does, become extraordinary.

8. Expand your heart.

One thing that unites us is that we all long to be happy. This happiness usually includes the desire to be close to someone in a loving way. To create real intimacy, get in touch with the spaciousness of your heart and bring awareness to what is good within you.

It’s easier to recognize the good in your partner when you’re connected to the good in yourself.

9. Focus on giving love.

Genuine happiness is not about feeling good about ourselves because other people love us; it’s more about how well we have loved ourselves and others. The unintentional outcome of loving others more deeply is that we are loved more deeply.

10. Let go of expectations.

You may look to things such as romance and constant togetherness to fill a void in yourself. This will immediately cause suffering. If you unconsciously expect to receive love in certain ways to avoid giving that love to yourself, you will put your sense of security in someone else.

Draw upon your own inner-resources to offer love, attention, and nurturance to yourself when you need it. Then you can let love come to you instead of putting expectations on what it needs to look like.

These are only a few ways to explore real intimacy. How do you create a loving connection in your relationship?

Photo by SashaW

Avatar of Lynn Newman

About Lynn Newman

Lynn Newman’s (aka Lynn Zavaro) book and card deck set, The Game of You™- An Interactive Way To Know Yourself, Create The Life You Want offers a powerful, profound and FUN experience of self-discovery and transformation. Her board game, The Game of Insight comes out soon. She has currently finished her memoir. Visit her at gameofyou.com.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://lookingtobusiness.com Daniel Wood

    I see life as a journey and luckily so does my wife ;)
    We both know we need to grow, to become better versions of ourselves, but we are both willing to.
    We are partners on the journey, working together, helping each other, mentoring one and another and sometimes complaining about the other.

    But we both know that we love each other and in this we accept our faults and the others, we try to improve our faults all the time and as we do we grow more and more perfect for each other.
    And probably less perfect for someone else, we are molded by the other.

  • Elizabeth

    Reading A Society Without Fathers or Husbands, a real eye-opener about an ethic group in china that does not have patriarchal marriage, but rather matrilineal households.  Makes you realize what BS the whole “romantic” Disney idea of relationships is. A lot of our mistaken ideas about relationships are due to the mystifying ideology of patriarchy.

  • http://www.kennedyink.blogspot.com Michelle

    What a great post.

    My husband and I approached marriage differently than most people.  We researched how to communicate before we got married.  We asked other couples what we should get out in the air before we got married.  And we made a few pacts, along with our marriage vows.  Never to fight in public or in front of company.  Never to cheat on the other – if we are drawn to that, we’ve promised to talk to the other first before so we can be truthful, but not hurtful.  Never to call each other a nasty name.  Never to be enquitable about money.

    It sounds funny to research about issues in a marriage before being married, but I have to say it’s a sad testiment to our society when in looking for books on marriage and having a good one, there were more books on the wedding and on divorce.  And I know our effort to communicate and keep truth alive in our relationship has paid off, not only for us, but for our friends who look to our relationship as a good example of a solid one.  Sure he annoys me sometimes.  And there is no way I don’t annoy him sometimes as well.  And that’s okay.  Because it works; we work.  I am because we are.

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  • http://adeleuddo.blogspot.com Adeleuddo

    For most of my life I’ve been caught in the Fantasy Fairytale you describe, and until recently, sabotaging every adult relationship I’ve attempted. My father lived far away while I was growing up, and early on he became like a rock star to me. I deified him ultimately, making HIM the ‘fantasy man’ in my life. He was my hero and our relationship was more like a romantic drama. Unfortunately it did not end in ‘Happy Ever After’…but the lessons were rich and ever-unfolding: http://tinyurl.com/3opbxtw

  • http://ponder-the-pre.posterous.com Kate Britt

    Thanks for this excellent post, Lynn. It seems like everybody is seeking the magic formula for making relationships work. Based on my own experience, I have to say that fairy-tale romance and relationships are possible, but they don’t happen via magic wand or any other kind of magic. They happen through hard, loving work. You’ve outlined some excellent points to direct that work, Lynn.

    I’ve had two long-term relationships (17 years; then 24 years & counting). It’s not simple, but for me the key for success in both has been Respect. Mutual Respect. Respectful approach in all relationship things. Respecting the Other for all s/he is, right now in this moment.

    Try this: Use the phrase “Respect helps you…” before each of your points above. It works!
    (Or more fully, “Respecting yourself and your partner helps you…”)

  • Sarahtsaraht

    This is just beautiful! “True love only exists by loving yourself first…”
    Embracing the ordinary is huge. Thank you for this.

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  • Cynthia

    Terrific post. Always a good reminder no matter how long you have been in a relationship. Thanks.

    Cynthia
    http://coffeeonthepatio.com
    http://www.cynthiasblog.com

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  • Flakas

    My father passed away when I was 15.  He and my mother always had what I considered (and still consider) to be a true PARTNERSHIP in their marriage.  One of many statments I remember my father making is:  You must love yourself BEFORE you can really LOVE another!
    I was fortunate in that my husband asked my mother for her advice as to how to have a lasting high-quality relationship prior to he and I marrying.  Her answer was brilliant yet simple.  Think of what is best for the relationship first, the children second, the other person third, yourself fourth and the rest of the world absolutely last.

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  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    Michelle, that doesn’t sound funny to me to research issues before being married.  That sounds really wise and admirable.  Your pacts are really thoughtful and realistic and I think you are a great example!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lee-Nicholls/1418028675 Lee Nicholls

    This is a fantastic article. It’s changed my thinking towards relationships.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lee-Nicholls/1418028675 Lee Nicholls

    This is a fantastic article. It’s changed my thinking towards
    relationships.

  • Mmarzolo

    looking for that awesome video someone posted.. played piano on “man in the mirror” with a missing left hand

  • guest

    I don’t fully understand #5. What do you mean with creating separateness, and creating drama and avoiding intimacy?

  • Lynn

    hi! just saw this sorry i didnt respond. what it means is that sometimes couples need space from one another so they create a fight to get space in order to then have a reason to come back together in a romantic trance.

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  • http://laterthis.com/ritabowersox Debra Collins

    Wow! This is tremendous post. I like it very most.  Thanks for the beneficial information.

  • Lynn Zavaro

    You bet! xoxoxo Lynn

  • Iamtangie

    It is not at all often that I read anything that helps me understand how to apply practicality to my to my life. This post does that! I am grateful. Thank you.

  • Iamtangie

    Research is good. Often, traditions teach nothing and marriages fail- so if research makes you a more informed spouse…have at it:-)

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  • Lynn

    you are so welcome:) xoxo lynn

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  • Joenyakasi

    wow thank you for that insight.  Its good to know to know that we have to love ourselves in order to be able to love others better.

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  • Avi_for_u2002

    Thank u somuch for these informations. I was badly in need of these. i was searching this and i got it. i will try all these steps slowly.  the reason is it is lil difficult to get my feelings controlled. but slowly slowly i will come to that stage. i will start giving love instead of more and more expectations. i will find the good quality in me, so that my partner will be quite happy n may come more closer with me. i am sure one day she will be with me so close that no one can depart us ever.

    Thank u sooooooooooooooooooooooooomuch. Hope for the best. wish me good luck. i was feeling total insecured and now i will surely try these stpes. let’s see it must work positive and i will get my partner back with too too too too much of love for me only.

    Love u,my friend.

  • Dangelo Cosper

    my name is dangelo i love these 10 steps i think this is what people need to keep a realitionship but you forgot 1 more trust

  • Honny Baby

    Encouraging!

  • Greg R

    She couldn’t let go of her expectations of what the relationship should be. It destroyed us and now she is gone. She thought I was the Knight in Shining Armor, but I am just me: Loyal, loving, compassionate and human with faults and defects. I didn’t slay the dragon, but I took the bullet for her only she squeezed the trigger.
    I will take these 10 ways to my next relationship.

    Thanks

  • Hcamiwet

    this is so helpfull thoughts to any relationship, thank you for sharing your wisdom in a deeper sense.

  • Susan

    Thanks so much for this! These are steps that make sense to follow and understand. It’s an awakening.

  • Mara

    This is exactly what I needed right now. Thank you for your insight. (: Love & light to you

  • Brana

    bien!!

  • disqus_tfuL7aNo6d

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel and think that this encompasses any relationship -whether with one’s partner, with friends and/or with children. I so agree when you said “True love only exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you’re willing to give yourself.” I know it is tough, but it’s gotta be done, so that the love we give others will be genuine, unconditional, and what each other truly deserves.

  • sarah

    thank you for the inspiration.

  • Lisa

    I respectfully disagree. Women especially should have expectations of their partners. Not having any expectations allows so many men to put in a minimal effort in their relationships and marriages. I have seen too many women serving as the pillars of their marriages, taking on most of the domestic, care-taking and parental responsibilities, acting as good friends and partners, putting their careers on hold so their husbands’ can thrive and eventually getting a divorce because the resentment ends up destroying their marriages, or/and the husbands cheat. I hardly know anyone who is not divorced and that’s because too many men think that it’s perfectly fine to take advantage of their wives and girlfriends.

  • Dylan

    Dr Stanley helped my marriage. The problem was not between my husband and I, but from jealousy brought on by his family. Ever since we met, they have tried to sabotage our relationship. It felt to me as if I wasn’t just married to him, but also his family, which was slowly dividing us. We were on the verge of divorcing, I consulted drstanleyspelltemple@gmail.com to find out if he could help save our marriage. I’m happy to say that he did and I can’t thank him enough. So if you have a marriage problem contact drstanleyspelltemple@gmail.com………Dylan

  • Paloma

    I see where you’re coming from but I think you misunderstood a little bit. They say to let go of expectations because they’ll get into a relationship expecting to be swept off their feet, taken on countless dates and expect the other to be romantic towards them and their attention directed towards them all the time because they are attached and don’t love themselves. They depend on the other to fill that void. Attachment is not a form of love. Self-respect is related but at the same time a different story. It has to do with how you treat yourself and how you let others treat you. People need to recognize when their relationship is toxic. Unfortunately, many choose to cling on to their relationship, not because of love, but because of attachment. When it comes to expectations, I think what they are trying to say is to not expect people to cater endless affection towards you all the time, or you will be sorely disappointed and feel deprived. When you love yourself, you don’t feel the desire for the constant catering of endless affection because you won’t have that void. I don’t think it means to dismiss a toxic relationship and just take what people do to you. Most definitely free yourself from those situations.

  • jacky

    awesome and motivational pos

  • Tom

    I can’t find a partner; does this bullshit advice still apply to me?

  • becca

    Hi…thanks for your article. I am a 56 yr old female who has had a closed off heart, and really only able to have sex not intimacy….I want to learn, grow and find someone special to share the mundane things of life with….

  • LostInDreamland

    I do actually expect too much from my relationship. I guess being a literature lover has made me who I am, wanting my boyfriend to be that romantic hero. But life is no barnum and bailey world. I have too many trust issues. We have had many goof-ups in our relationship of 4 years. He is never romantic, and i mean NEVER. I don’t want the ‘i love you’ everyday because it feels more like a mantra than a feeling expressed. He looks at each and every girl and that hurts me… And when a boy looks at me, he warns me from looking in that direction. ‘You can’t go there while I can because I’m a boy’ is a daily phrase that I hear from my bf. What do I do?

  • happiestgirl0819

    If you feel like it isn’t right and it isn’t what you want, you should let him go. Expecting too much in terms of daily affection is one thing, but feeling worthless and unattractive are huge warning signs. You should leave while it is still “easy” (in that you are not married, no children, etc).

  • Scott Newman

    For those who feel cynical about marriage, my wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer. We love each other more than ever. A happy marriage is still possible.

    We have found true intimacy because we both hope for the same things in life. Our shared faith in Jesus shaped our parenting values (six wonderful children), gave a deep sense of purpose in life and reason amid hard times, and has satisfied our hearts at the profoundest level.

    “Be strong and let your heart take courage, you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

  • Ella

    I feel that Both Lisa and Paloma are correct. I dont think that lisa mis understands..Shes right about expectations. However, There is a such thing as having expectations set too high, especially if your not worthy of those expectations, and also the problem of trying to see someone as somebody they are not. Everyone I think naturally has expectations when they get into a relationship or searching for someone, whether they apply it… thats a different story. However NOT ALL woman get into relationships hoping for a fairytale life and being treated out everywheres and wanting the most gushy love. I think thats just some woman. A lot that runs through a womans head is – Do we like to do the same things – How does this person carry themselves – What do they do on a daily basis – What kind of career do they have – What have they done in life. Clinginess can come from not just attachment and wanting to be loved, but also the though of losing that person to someone else, or there interest straying away because of not enough time spent. Where I think Paloma is definitely correct is loving yourself FIRST before trying to love someone else. If you don’t know yourself as well as you should, you cant possibly know anybody else enough to really LOVE that person.

  • heba

    Hi I am heba ..I am 23years old.I love someone and I felt he is love’s me but ..after 3years he didn’t came to me..to say he’s love’s me….so I don’t know?????what i have to do????…….please help me…….with love

  • marisa

    this is a nice piece of quotes

  • princess fernandez

    In a relationship support would be abundant. Part of
    understanding that your partner has different beliefs, habits, and ideas
    than you is supporting them in them. You may not believe in the law of
    attraction, but that doesn’t mean that you should make them feel bad
    because they do. If you do not support your partner then they will feel
    disconnected from you.

  • faith

    I’m short of words here, I don’t know what to say about what Dr Ukpoyan has done for me. My lover Scott left me for almost 2years, I really loved my husband Scott because he was my first love, When he left me I thought the world was over. But when I came in contact with dr Ukpoyan he just told me that my lover will be back to my arms within 40hours and that he will love and respect me forever. So the most surprising thing is that my lover is now back to me and we are now together. My lover bought me a nice car and now I also have access to his bank account to show me that he will never leave me or hurt me again. Am so grateful to dr Ukpoyan. Please Dr Ukpoyan is a great man..contact him for any kind of help and he will never disappoint you. His private email [Dr.ukpoyanspellhome@hotmail.com] Thank you farther for making me happy in my life, God will bless you and your family.

  • Kingston

    A friend once told me to higher your standards and lower your expectations. I thought that was a very wise concept, and perhaps, speaks to both Lisa and Paloma’s insights.

  • BETH

    I want to give thanks to the great doctor Lawrence who help me in getting back my ex-boyfriend i saw a testimony post by miss Kate from Spain about how the great doctor Lawrence had helped her, i decide to email him and to my greatest surprise my ex-boyfriend came back to me after three days of contacting him.i simply want to say thanks for what he had done for me and am so happy may he live long. if you have any problem just email him :drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com and you will not regret contacting him.

  • Jessica Theroux

    This is an amazing post! Thanks so much Lynn.

    I just watched a video on Rebuilding intimacy in a marriage, check it out: http://youtu.be/oJzQpuz-yZM

  • JOVITA

    I am here to testify on how Dr Lawrence help me to bring back my ex-husband who left me 3 months ago i got his email on the internet on an article how he had help so many people,so i emailed the Dr and tell my problems to him and after that day he gave me assurance of 3days,to my greatest surprise my husband came back to me in third day of contacting him,i want to say a very big thank you to drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com

  • JOLLY

    Pualina42 USA in honest and in truth i wish to express my heartily regard to Dr OKORO of okorohomeofrefuge@gmail.com in his home there is no problem what a solution i never thought my husband will come back to me again until i contacted him for help he help me to reunite/re emerge my broken marriage of 6yrs by spell-casting today my husband is back and stick to me forever i am so happy i found a solution to my marriage problems of 6yrs and that is when i contacted you for help if he can do it for me he can also help you out in your marital/relationship problems…his email is okorohomeofrefuge@gmail.com

  • http://dbakeca.com Dbakeca Italia

    great tips

  • Ana-Molly

    Wise and brave, eyes open. kudos!! I was uncertain of my role models early on for sturdy, healthy, interpersonal relationships. As a teen I became aware I was attracted to the wrong people for friends and intimate relationships. So I started reading relationship books, marriage books. I haven’t been married, yet, and have been engaged a couple times, have had some wonderful (yet dysfunctional) long term relationships, all of which have at some point contacted me in the future post break ups, and have openly thanked me for teaching them so much about how to be in a relationship, becoming better at fighting fair (even if it was a struggle), and discovering much about themselves in the process, wanting to become better people. As much as I would like to brag about such fortune and appreciation, and I do consider these sentiments a greater success than I could have expected or hoped for, and fills my heart. On the other hand, what they really say to me is ” I know we were two imperfect people hoping that our compatibility could over ride our mutual dysfunctions, and you were wise enough to see when we stopped growing together to compassionately and lovingly let us part”. That most likely never would have happened had I not been so introspective, willing to do the work, and push, and the discomfort of learning while in love, renegotiate, re-research, and try again. My childhood friends have all had multiple marriages, kids in therapy for nasty divorces, addictions, you name it. As well have many of their friends. These were “kids”, who were honors students, with multiple Majors on top of academics, multiple University scholarship offers, etc…and they (we) all came from profusely dysfunctional homes, married young, dumb and in love. One of the dysfunctions many people from these family unit dynamics have is an Inability to form appropriate boundaries for having improperly conditioned expectations or none…. Often having NO expectations, or an inability to properly articulate expectations leads to abusive relationship patterns of being used and lied to. expectations are not bad, what is ineffectual is believing we have none, and in effect of denial. lack of self awareness/ understanding, or falsely claiming no expectations leaves open the door to absolutely everything and anything… You say well, no because if someone did this or that i would still love so and so, but surely there are limits to me receiving abuse and I would have to reconsider the partnership agreements /Pacts (because a hidden/ unspoken expectation of respect/ commonality was broken) period.
    Thank you for your Post Michelle: It is exceptionally encouraging!!

  • Ana-Molly

    I may have a few hang ups on the working definitions of standards and expectations, the lack of defining healthy and dysfunctional expectations, and more irrational reality of generalizing to No expectations. Though please understand … Lynn Newman wrote such a fantastic and useful article I have been inspired to commented multiple times.

  • railym

    you should know first the personality of the person that you love so that you will not be hurt again :)