No doubt, you\’ve heard it said that love can happen in an instant. You
see a stranger across a crowded room and, whammo, your heart flutters,
temperature rises, your stomach is suddenly popping and fizzing, and
what feels like destiny is taking you for a ride. How awesomely sweet.
You hadn\’t planned for it, hadn\’t even expected it, but there it is.
Love at first sight. Wow!

The truth is that some relationships which begin in that swept-away
surge last a lifetime. And in some of those, two people remain
enchanted with each other, lovers and friends to the end.

But it\’s also true that many, if not most, of those hot, hot, hot
beginnings fade, often quickly, into disappointment, leaving behind a
trail of mistrust and bitterness.

What is it that keeps a relationship alive over the long term?

Historically, it was not expected that the purpose of a relationship
and especially a marriage was the emotional and spiritual closeness of
two people, as it is today. Rather, marriage was more like a business
contract.

She had her duties. He had his. If they performed well their marriage
was considered a success. If they loved, let alone liked each other,
well that was a wonderful side benefit.

But times have changed. Now, new assumptions have become part of how
our culture defines what romantic love is supposed to provide. We call
it a new intimacy and it\’s established on the basis that:

** Love is the indispensable foundation of a good relationship.
** Two people voluntarily choose each other without any interference from their family, friends, or community.
** They know they are being loved for who they really are, so they can drop their masks and not have to play games.
** They recognize and respect each other for their values and
ambitions, giving and receiving compassion for their fears and
hesitations.
** And they know their love gives a spiritual purpose and meaning
to their life, as they consciously create their relationship together.

This vision of romantic love is very different from what has come
before, requiring a different vision of what is needed to succeed. So
understanding the role of emotional intimacy — what is really a new
intimacy — has now become essential.

Intimacy requires that you let yourself be known. But that\’s not all.
You must also want to know your partner. Otherwise the circle is not
complete. There must be two of you, each open and paying attention to
yourselves and each other. You might think this means that trust has
tocome first. But that\’s exactly backwards.

Trust in a relationship means a sense of emotional safety. That cannot
come to be without your being willing to be present and emotionally
available. Does that involve risk? Of course. But if you want love to
take you into its depth, you must face into the risk of sometimes being
exposed. And, as your lover continues to love you, not in spite of but
including those parts of you that you might not be sure are lovable,
then trust emerges–because it can.

There is no such thing as intimacy at first sight. Becoming truly
intimate involves emotional generosity and grows over time. The more
you show yourself the more you make yourself available to be loved.
In other words, you must bring yourself to the relationship.

Like Cinderella, many women wait to be discovered and spend years alone
and lonely–even if they are in a marriage–wondering when things are
supposed to “get good.” And in all fairness, much of what is circulated
as romantic truth encourages the hope of being rescued by love. So why
wouldn\’t you wait to be spotted by that perfect person whose love will
make everything
right? Unfortunately, that approach means that you have to remain passive.

Aroused by simple curiosity, real intimacy is active, prompting you to
extend yourself beyond what you already know, urging you to uncover
more about yourself and your lover. If not, if your relationship has
become worn and predictable, intimacy has been reduced to physical
proximity. Have you ever known a couple who has lost interest in each
other? They live under the same roof, but they\’re even less close than
roommates.

Keep romance alive and exciting by staying open to new and always unfolding intimacy. Real intimacy.

Remember that intimacy is lively and adventuresome, always open to new
possibilities. It is a creative, imaginative experience. Not an escape
from life but a plunge into it. Not a game of hide and seek. But rather
a lifelong adventure into being known for who you really are and being
loved for exactly that.