Dr. Glenn A. Sisk on How to Open Yourself Up For
the Relationship You Desire
Speaking from my own experience as a man, and from what I’ve learned from other men, I think it’s safe to say that we struggle with intimacy more than women do. In my life I’ve only recently developed an understanding of what it means and become able to go there with my wife and partner.
I had my first aha moment some years ago when I looked up the Latin root of the word and found it defined in simple terms: “to make known the in-most.” That really clicked for me. To relate to someone on a meaningful level, you have to be able to reveal your deepest self, from your desires to your dark side. In true intimacy, there are no secrets.
In his book Trusting Oneself and the Other, my mentor Osho describes intimacy as, “A willingness to expose our deepest feelings and vulnerabilities, with the trust that the other person will treat them with care.” For many men and women, that kind of trust does not come naturally. We’ve had experiences with past relationships, within our families, or simply from growing up in society, that have taught us to keep our guard up. And especially for men who are valued for being stoic and tough, vulnerability can be a state we avoid at all costs, and don’t know how to access freely.
Learning all of this gave me a new perspective on how I had been living my life. I realized I had kept walls up that stopped me from connecting with people not just romantically, but in all kinds of relationships. With my former self, everything was a secret. I certainly wasn’t willing to let anyone know who I really was. I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but on some level I suspected there was some obvious fault in me that if uncovered, would ensure my downfall.
I know I’m not the only one who’s had this kind of fear underlying how they relate to others. Fortunately we all have the opportunity to grow past our prior conditioning around it. As with anything we wish to cultivate in our lives, intimacy is a muscle that can be strengthened.
Ultimately it starts with knowing and loving yourself. You can’t reveal what you don’t know, and you can’t expect others to respect your truth if you’ve yet to face it. Once you’re intimate with yourself and you’ve gotten to the point where you feel being alone is not a problem, but a blessing, that’s what will give you the courage and the inner strength needed to take the risk of opening up to others. With that foundation, you will become confident that even if you are betrayed, and your inner-most revelations aren’t received with care, that you will suffer no permanent damage.
Part of the work of knowing yourself is becoming conscious of your fear in the first place, so that you can pick it apart. I love the acronym that boils fear down to “false evidence appearing real.” If you’re fearing rejection, imagining that opening up will result in your loneliness, you have to ask the question, is that true? If you really think about it, most of the time you’ll find it’s just your ego drawing anxious conclusions based on false evidence. It’s not actually protecting you from anything, but holding you back from greater love, depth and connection.
I’ve also learned that the work of intimacy doesn’t stop once you’ve found your soulmate and entered into a committed relationship. There is always a new level of openness, and greater depths for both partners to explore. I’ve recently experienced how conflict can be a catalyst for intimacy, and vice versa, how intimacy is key to conflict resolution.
Keeping in the theme of transparency, I’ll share the story with you. One issue that’s been coming up for Gina and I lately, being a couple that also runs a business together, is that sometimes when I disagree in meetings I will get into this mode of beating my chest, expressing this kingly attitude that wants to rule with total control. It doesn’t go over well and it never gets me what I want, but it’s a pattern. Gina and I knew we had to move past this, so we sat down to talk about it.
Now Gina could very well have confronted me with a wall of her own, saying, “I cannot be treated like this, it needs to stop.” But instead she very gently and queenly invited me to open up, asking, “what’s this really about for you?” Her softness gave me permission to dig in and open up, and through our conversation we realized the behavior goes back to a father issue. I grew up feeling like my opinion was never respected, so I spent much of my life overcompensating by not only telling people I was right, but forcing it.
In that moment I felt the connection of this total trust between Gina and I—trusting that she was honoring my feelings and helping me get to the bottom of them. Amazingly, being able to release all that created a total 360 and I realized, wow, my wife really values and respects my opinion.
So as you move into this weekend of romance, know that the power of intimacy to transform your life never fades, whether you’re single, dating, or in an established relationship. All things are possible in the present, and when you release your wounds of the past and your fears of the future, you too can be strong enough to open up with total honesty. Have faith that no matter what happens, speaking the truth in love is always the right choice, and in fact the most powerful choice. It’s not going to scare people away—it is much more likely to bring them closer.
to Inspire Your
The Way of the Superior Man
by David Deida
One of the most transformative books I’ve read when it comes to relating to women as a man. I highly recommend it for all men, and all the women I know who’ve read it have also found it extremely valuable.
Trusting Oneself and the Other
This book by one of my mentors is absolutely phenomenal in teaching you to trust yourself and preparing you for an intimate relationship.
by John Bradshaw
by John Bradshaw
If you’re still working to discover what’s holding you back from true intimacy, these two books by John Bradshaw are truly illuminating. You’ll learn how to free yourself from the old rules of your family dynamics and create your own way of life.