All relationships require a level of honesty.
The honest data that’s conveyed allows each person to conjure up a response and posture for one another. It’s this initial exchange of information that builds the foundation for any relationship. We find attraction and even safety in one another’s interests, goals, accomplishments, and character.
I call this introductory phase the “resume” phase, for obvious reason.
We magnify our credentials as a sales pitch to win over the prospective significant other, the way we would with any desired place of employment. I mean this with no negative connotation, as this phase is an essential link in the grand mechanism of healthy relationships.
The aspect I want to focus on is the phase directly following, which I deem the “full time employment” phase.
The “full time employment” phase of the relationship is the point at which the significant other goes from being dissected to decided. The questions of relational life span and compatibility graciously exit as they make room for the conscious decision to plan a relational life together. This evolution of the relationship is a beautiful thing, however, it births new responsibility and obligation not yet required. That requirement is the need to expose not only strengths and facts, but also one’s innermost vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and struggles. A new, deeper level of emotional intimacy requests deeper information. Just as a child needs a higher dosage of food as they grow and develop, so a relationship needs deeper roots to survive and flourish.
The “resume” phase establishes attraction but the “full time employment” phase is where safety and commitment are built.
Some experience a smooth transition from phase to phase, while others like myself, did not have a very easy transitional period.
My fiancée and I had an absolutely stellar introductory phase in our relationship. We indulged in many late night conversations and thoughtful dates.
We grew to be utterly infatuated with each other and were both naively convinced that this relationship was perfect. The more time went on, however, it began to magnify quite the opposite.
At the point in which greater intimacy demanded greater depth, I became a very different person. My sensitivity grew cold, my empathy turned into apathy, and my desire for deep conversation became a hesitance to talk about anything of substance at all. What my fiancee saw on the external was a confusingly new inability to connect emotionally but what I saw internally was far more elaborate.
In the exploration and revelation of each other’s lives, we as humanity tend to compartmentalize the necessary topics needed to build a solid understanding of each other. Family, hobbies, interests, religious beliefs, goals, past relationships, the list goes on. I picture all these topics as rooms in a big house. That big house is our complete inner self: our emotions, thoughts, past, weaknesses, strengths, fears, ambitions, etc. In relationships, we are essentially walking our significant other on a grand tour of this house. That being said, there’s always that one room all the way in the back, with the lights off, that we keep shut and locked. We have absolutely no desire to go near that room and open the door to what’s inside for our self, let alone give permission to another. We can keep occupied with showing other rooms and their grandeur, but the more doors that get opened, the more evident that dark and unexposed room becomes. That is the place where I stood.
I was terrified to have to go there. I knew inside that room was pain, neglect, abandonment, confusion, shame, anxiety, and torment. I thought surely, my beloved would abandon me at first sight, so I aggressively ended the tour instead of waiting to test the opportunity. I did not want to be known or exposed anymore but hypocritically, I wanted this relationship to work out. Days led to weeks, weeks led to months, and the conflicting paradox was at its boiling point. I knew that either I was going to have to open “that door” with her or the relationship would stand no chance of survival.
I opened a door that many men can relate to and dread its exposure, I confessed to my fiancée that I had been addicted to pornography & sex since I was a teenager.
As painful and daunting as that task was, it was one of the most liberating feelings to be able to release all of that bottled up pressure of shame. What were once years of shame and confusion was now an opportunity for deeper intimacy. We expand our definition of intimacy to great measure when we realize that it’s not just based on adoration and praise, but acceptance and grace.