The New Intimacy


Be Loved for Who You Really Are

When we were writing our most recent book, "Be Loved for Who You Really Are," we were aware of just how apt that title and its meaning was/is for our time. Men and women are expecting more from a romantic relationship than ever before in human history. Also, never before have men and women been as free to seek love, a love that they determine to be real on the basis of their own perceptions and feelings.

Almost all cultures of the world have believed that romantic feelings were dangerous to developing a family and a stable community because those feelings were out of our control. A man or woman would be "swept away," carried on a torrent of emotion, desire, lust and abandon.

So in all cultures, and in many today, marriages were arranged by third parties -- matchmakers, parents, clergy. It was believed that only a third party could make a sound enough decision about who should be mated with whom. As far as the couple was concerned, there was no freedom and their only responsibility was to obey the dictates of their elders.

Today we take it for granted that a relationship should:

  • be made by two people each choosing the other of their own free will, not influenced by family, church or community;
  • they will share their lives in its intimate detail, and their sharing will be the basis of the how and why their relationship thrives;
  • their choice will be based on the love they feel for one another and on no other considerations;
  • that being togther is the context for the sweetest happiness possible;
  • that sex will provide the transformative power of ecstasy and will continue throughout their life together;
  • that their love will open a vision of spiritual transcendence and encourage and support their lifelong efforts.

And we, Judith & Jim, concur. A relationship can be the context for all of the above. And love is nothing if it is not free. But freedom is more than simply a matter of unrestricted choice. Freedom is always coupled with responsibility, in other words, with the impact our choices have on us and those around us.

Today, we have almost limitless personal freedom to choose our mate and our lifestyle. What we lack is the training to live with the personal responsibility it takes to mine the riches available within such freedom.

However, a real life relationship, based on real love freely chosen, requires lovework -- so that two people:

  • trust each other with their real feelings, the only basis of being loved for who they really are;
  • feel determined to face into the inevitable conflicts all couples experience;
  • relax their resistance to the lessons of love;
  • enjoy and treasure the esteem and mutual regard that comes from true respect and interest rather than fantasy;
  • acknowledge and accept each other's differences, while still reserving the right to want some things to change;
  • and finally, feel less need for romantic illusion and more desire for real romance and intimacy.

Being loved for who we really are is what we seek most deeply. But please keep in mind that, even though we are human and assume on that basis, and often on that basis alone, that love is something that comes naturally to us, all of us need to learn about the art of love. Loving, like anything else we do, is an art. If we are to love fully and feel love's full satisfaction, we must learn about what love requires of us and practice, practice, practice!

© 2005, The New Intimacy

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Intimacy is spelled "in to me you see". - Stan Dale

I have always made a distinction between my friends and my confidants. I enjoy the conversation of the former; from the latter I hide nothing. - Edith Piaf


Husband and wife psychology team, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski, are the bestselling authors of "The New Intimacy" and "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year." Their latest book is Be Loved for Who You Really Are: How the differences between men and women can be turned into the source of the very best romance you'll ever know. They provide corporate trainings on breaking through resistance to success and relationship workshops about The Magic of Differences--romance based on respect and value for each other's unique ways. As guest experts they've been on over 600 television and radio shows including Oprah, The O'Reilly Factor, 48 Hours, Canada AM, and The View. Visit their website at

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