Time and time again, people tell me they are not experiencing real intimacy in their relationships. Sex? Yes. True intimacy? No. They long for a soul connection, a deep, tender love, a satisfying and fulfilling sexual love. They long for a deeper level of communication, not just the chatter of everyday life.

Seeking Communion

Human beings are hardwired to seek a deep love connection with another human being. I call this deep level of connection we all seek “communion.” And communication is the key to keeping us moving in an upward direction toward communion.

When you meet someone, you begin to form a connection by talking with each other. That’s communication. As you talk and listen, you get to know each other. As you get to know each other, you find you like each other. And since you like each other, you want to communicate even more. That is how the upward spiral toward communion begins.

Communication is the key because it is the only part of the process you have any control over. You can’t just decide you’re going to know someone better. You can’t just decide you’re going to like someone. The only decision under control is whether or not you communicate with them.

Accepting Your Partner, Warts and All

While it is true that good communication is the key to moving toward communion, we need to look more deeply into the roots of intimacy. True love is not that all-too-familiar but temporary state called infatuation. Infatuation fades over time. True, intimate love deepens over time.

The foundation of true love is acceptance. Can you accept your partner for who he or she is, warts and all? Acceptance of each other is and always has been the basis for love. Intimate love can’t flourish without it.

When a couple is in trouble in their relationship, at least one of them is probably having difficulty in accepting something in the other. Nonacceptance leads to criticism, judgment, and damaged communication. Nonacceptance provides the road map to alienation.

Accepting the reality of your partner’s shortcomings doesn’t mean you have to like all aspects of that reality. But accepting reality, whatever it is, is the bedrock of good mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. And accepting the reality of your partner is the bedrock of a good relationship.

Your partner’s behavior and its effects on you are both parts of reality. So if your reality is that your partner’s behavior is hurting you, it would be unhealthy to pretend otherwise. You need to communicate this reality with your partner. Do it without judgment, but do it.

Accepting Yourself As You Are

Before leaving a relationship, or for that matter, before entering one, answer this: How completely do you accept yourself? Your inability to accept as reality something in another usually stems from difficulty you have in accepting the reality of who you are and what you are like.

Do you consciously give yourself permission to experience and be responsible for your actions, feelings, and emotions? Do you do this without putting yourself down? Can you be conscious of and be okay with your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, even when you don’t particularly like the reality of some shortcomings you see in yourself?

True self-acceptance is based in consciousness of reality, whatever it is. If you tend to be a bit judgmental, for example, your easiest course would be to deny it and remain unconscious of it. Being conscious might be uncomfortable because as you come to accept who you are, you might decide you have to change and be less judgmental. That might be difficult and uncomfortable. It would be much easier to remain unconsciously judgmental.

Your road map to personal change is self-acceptance because it is based in consciousness of reality. Self-acceptance pays huge dividends in self-esteem and freedom. If you can fully accept yourself, it is easy to accept others. Then your entering or leaving a relationship is guided by the reality of the relationship itself, not by your need to avoid consciousness of things you might not like in yourself.

When both you and your partner can consciously accept yourselves and accept each other, it is possible for love with true intimacy to flourish and grow over the years.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways2.html.

Author's Bio: 

Neill Neill, PhD, RPsych, D-CEP, maintains an active psychology practice on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to serving the needs of his clients in their psychological and spiritual healing and growth, he is Consulting Psychologist to the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a residential alcohol and drug treatment facility for men (http://www.SunshineCoastHealthCentre.com). Dr. Neill is a columnist, speaker, and author of a new self-help work, Living with an Alcoholic: Dr. Neill’s Survival Guide for Women (http://www.living-with-an-alcoholic.com). For a free copy of his e-book, Codependency and Addiction, visit http://www.neillneill.com.