Cultivating Stable Partner Intimacy
Cultivate lasting intimate partnerships through mindful kindness.
For additional details on this page’s content, go to author Doug Carnine’s website here.
Becoming capable of mindfully cultivating & protecting intimacy with a partner is the holy grail of personal discoveries. Once you understand the direct correlation of this to the quality of your life, you can’t regress to what you used to do. In previous generations, few survived the epidemic of starving for stable intimacy. The divorce rate spike of the 70’s and subsequent psychology studies of the 80’s & 90’s are proof we are not satisfied.
“If I had to summarize over 60 years of excellent relationship research in just one sentence, that sentence would be: If you can find and be someone kind and respectful, your relationship will probably work; and if you can’t, it won’t.”
Duana Welch, Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do
The Top 2 Most Powerful Traits of Lasting Partners
#1 MINDFUL KINDNESS WINS EVERY TIME
Thousands of partner relationships have since been studied by the famous Gottman Institute spanning four decades, founded by research psychologists Julie & John Gottman for the mission of improving relationships. They observed a specific pattern in the most loving and resilient couples: When observed partners initiated engagement, or ‘bids’ for attention, the responding partner’s response pattern was tracked. Two types of response patterns classified as a ‘turning towards’ and a ‘turning away’ score were highly accurate in determining the health of a relationship.
It’s worth noting that a ‘turning away’ response included anything from mild acknowledgement to hostility, expressing annoyance at being interrupted. ‘Turning towards’ responses were warm, fully engaged acknowledgements. The couples with a ‘turning towards’ pattern ended up having a strong lasting relationship 6 years later. The ‘turn away’ couples with low positive engagement were either divorced or struggling chronically after 6 years. Hence, small discussions or ‘bids’ to notice the hummingbirds, turned out to be important micro moments for kindness validation, which meet the partner’s emotional needs. The strongest relationships were proven to be meeting each other’s emotional needs 87% of the time on average through this simple kindness of ‘turning towards’ bids, while crumbling relationships were ‘turning towards’ meeting emotional needs a mere 30% of the time.
#2 EMOTIONAL GENEROSITY
Apparently it’s more important to be generous with joy when things go right, than to ‘be there when the going gets rough.’ In 2006, research psychologist Shelly Gable studied young adult couples for patterns in partner response to good news. They identified four primary categories of responses:
- Passive Destructive
- Active Destructive
- Passive Constructive
- Active Constructive
For example, say partner A announces they got into their top choice veterinary school, partner B responds:
Passive Destructive = Ignores, not giving it acknowledgement.
Active Destructive = Questioning the cost, difficulty, and any other joy-killing detail.
Passive Constructive = A half-hearted positive response while texting.
Active Constructive = Stopping what they are doing and wholeheartedly celebrating the success.
When it was time to follow up later, the only couples still together were the ones generous enough to practice active constructive responses to each other’s news.
Enhancing Partner Intimacy: Components of Being Loveable, Loving and Loved
The things worth mastering to be capable of cultivating stable intimacy are not things. We don’t give near enough credit to the immaterial qualities that give us the most contentment. Contentment allows us to feel like we are enough, and what we’re doing is enough. The resulting personal peace is an overlap gift, meaning that giving it to yourself is nearly the same as giving it to your partner. Because you can’t give something you don’t have.
Mindfulness is being present without being judgmental, which is the opposite of being self-absorbed in thoughts about what you like and don’t like. Applied in a partnership, mindfulness allows a special type of personal alignment, in which you deeply examine your desires and find what’s blocking you from acting with kindness. Maintaining personal balance during wild circumstances is critical, but not easy to do. This centered state allows you to remain receptive, loving and able to move forward with maximized creativity for solutions.
- Uncomplicated Harmony
- Reserving Mental Clarity For Solutions
- Not Wasting Energy On Reactive Emotions Such As Anger
Kindness applied as a constant in partnership is practicing your personal cure for ‘reaction’ based thinking and habits. Reactions create and pour fuel on emotional fires. Kindness is the water that prevents it, puts it out, and helps us better understand each other.
- Preventing Emotional Harm
- Strengthening Connection
- Maximizing Room For Sacred Moments Of Connection
Emotional generosity means consistently making the most generous assumptions about your partner’s intentions, actions and words as possible. This continually reinforces the safety of the relationship and increases how often partners communicate in constructive ways.
- Trust Building
- Passion Invoking
- Feeling Loving & Loved