Intimacy and Independence

  • Inspired by conversations between Esther Perel and David Whyte

Intimacy and Independence are two highly desired qualities in any human life. Bringing them together in conversation reflects one of the great dualities and sources of tensions in our relationships. It’s also one of the most common sources of tension within ourselves as individuals.

Intimacy with another must co-exist and develop from a strong sense of self. The ability to have closeness with another comes from a deep sense of connection and inner knowing of ourselves; a sense of an inner foundation necessary to feel we have an independent life within the context of a relationship, work, or any of our duties and commitments in the outside world.

How do I stay connected to an inner sense of self without losing you?

How do I stay connected to you without losing me?

The holding together of this duality is one of the great paradoxes of love. To hold the conversation successfully: to find the place inside us where we feel we’re living our life with integrity, one that we can call our own while enjoying the joy of our close relationships may be one of the most important triumphs in a human life.

After the first three years of life we have a very basic, rudimentary understanding that we have ‘a self’. “You’re not the boss of me!” shouts the very young child who’s experiencing the pain of his rejected, new found independence. From there on we straddle two sets of contradictory needs: the need for security and the need for freedom. Both are sacred.

“We all commonly struggle with a sense of a big, wide world that invites us into so many corners of it. We desire to be freely in it while we also commonly have the human need to make intimate promises to one other person in one very particular corner of that world.”

We love. Love in its most inclusive form, not only the form that it takes with one specific person, but across the full spectrum of experience.

The goal is to find that place within ourselves where we are living our life with integrity, allowing ourselves to have important conversations while working to expand our capacities to manage the emotions regarding the vulnerabilities we feel.

Life constantly challenges us to find ourselves, to find our grace as we learn how to ‘hold on’ and how to ‘let go’. We may find ourselves in what feels like a dance of ‘surrender’ and ‘will’.

Allow yourselves to ask these questions without losing sight of the paradox:

How do I stay connected to myself without losing you? How do I stay connected to you without losing me?

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