Falling in love is grand. There’s that spark of aliveness and vibrancy, energy, passion, and epiphany, like everything has fallen perfectly into place and just makes sense. Life seems so full of meaning and beauty and purpose. To encounter another person in this way is one of the most extraordinary experiences we may share with another. It fills our hearts and imaginations with visions of lifelong bliss and unity, as if we have at long last discovered our soulmate, our partner on the path, the person with whom we can fully share a lifelong journey.
Most of us want to be close to others, to share deep connections built on trust and love and affection. We want relationships in which we can open our heart fully, knowing that another person will not stomp all over it when we do. We want to be vulnerable, knowing that intimacy requires it, yet we do not want to get hurt. We want two things really, intimacy and safety. Luckily, these goals are not mutually exclusive. We can, indeed, have both, once we answer the question, “How can I protect myself and build intimacy at the same time?”