Intimate Relationships as a Spiritual Growth Tool

Each of us is here on earth to fulfill our inner design, according to the soul. It makes no difference in that process whether we have one intimate relationship for our entire lives, numerous intimate ones, or none at all. Of course, we will always be in connections; the whole nature of human life is interdependent and relational. Regardless of our individual relational circumstances, our essential work is to become more fully ourselves.

Most of us, however, have a strong need for personal connections – or, at the at least, for pair-bonding, which we think will provide us with the emotions of protection and comfort that we frequently misinterpret with intimacy. True closeness, in fact, rarely produces what the human personality self perceives as “safety,” and the kind of safety that appears appealing to some aspects of the personality actually leads to stagnation of other parts of us, and of our soul. This is one of the reasons why many of us find love relationships to be a cause of considerable confusion and pain.

True intimacy is a deep touch experience in which one consciousness gratefully encounters another. We can experience closeness (or lack thereof) within ourselves or with any other living thing because each of us has various levels and elements of consciousness. Although closeness might be present with someone we know well, a quick exchange between strangers can also result in a momentary flash of intimacy.

Intimacy occurs at the level of consciousness, where the soul resides. As a result, it simultaneously necessitates and encourages authenticity, the removal of social masks. This is one of the reasons why many individuals prefer to experience intimacy with animals, who do not wear social masks and do not respond to such masks in us. It’s also why many of us find it so difficult to be intimate with our mates or partners. People in defined “intimate relationships” frequently slip into damaging intimacy patterns, such as attempting to force specific feelings or behaviors from one other or from ourselves, or when fear causes us to hide aspects of ourselves. In most “intimate relationships,” the intimacy, if present at all, has a very short life-span.

Many of us have preconceived notions or assumptions about love relationships. We may believe that our partners should or must exhibit specific physical and emotional features, conduct their lives in specific ways, and be with us in ways that our human selves find delightful or reassuring. While none of these attitudes or wants are inherently “bad,” they have nothing to do with love or intimacy. They are built on a transactional model of interaction, which is fine in a market environment (“I’ll give you one dollar for one avocado”) but irrelevant, if not contradictory, to true connection.

“But having a spouse who is X or does X would bring me delight,” we may argue. That’s not quite correct. Our human selves have various preferences, and as we’ve explored, it’s more harmonious for us to organize our lives around those preferences than than against them. However, focusing just on constructing a life that satisfies our tastes leads to a never-ending search, because no matter what we choose, our inner work will always present itself to be done, frequently in ways that are challenging or uncomfortable. And joy is an inner soul movement that can and does arise whether our wishes have been met or entirely disregarded. No parent would want to have a kid with Down syndrome or severe disabilities, but many parents of such children claim that their children offer them immense joy.