To develop a close, intimate relationship with someone else requires honesty, openness and transparency; being truthful, even when it is painful. Of course, there are many other definitions of this interpersonal phenomenon that depends upon one’s willingness to be vulnerable, choosing to allow someone else into their private world. Intimacy is a close, personal, private relationship that is warm and friendly.
Positive, intimate relationships are built upon the foundation of trust that is defined by certain assumptions. Consistent, predictable behavior over a long period of time that reinforce those assumptions breeds a trust that goes deeper than a vow and a promise, penetrating right to the heart of everyday behaviors. Getting caught doing the right thing fosters reassurance and security…and trust.
While there are many things that stand in the way of intimacy, perhaps the most pernicious is lying: making an untrue statement with the intention of deceiving someone else, creating a false or misleading impression. It is the poison of intimacy. It is a toxin that will injure or terminate a relationship, for trust cannot blossom where words and actions are designed to deceive and mask true intentions, not reflect them.
Nonetheless, a recent Psychology Today article ventures into the gradients of lying, suggesting that we all do it to one degree or another.
Studies show that the average person lies several times a day. Some of those are biggies: “I’ve been faithful to you.” Others are par for the course: “No, your new dress looks good.” Some forms of deception aren’t exactly lies: comb-overs, nodding when you’re not listening. And then there are lies we tell ourselves, as part of healthy self-esteem maintenance or serious delusions. In the end, it appears that we can’t handle the truth. (Psychology Today: Deception)
People look for intimacy in all sorts of places. Logically, they expect to find it in their families; and, in most cases they do so. At other times, our hope and desire to find love and acceptance in our family of origin may blind us to the fact that their communications, behaviors and attitudes convey exactly the opposite.
Much of Marriage and Family Therapy involves examining the relational realities of life. This often means assessing the best ways to address the positives and the negatives in a way that respects boundaries, acknowledges tensions, accentuates the positives and adjusts behaviors to those influences that are toxic. Many tools are available to the seasoned therapist ranging from personal interviews with individuals, couples and families to a variety of testing instruments.
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