Sunday, July 25, 2010


In a previous blog I briefly mentioned that codependence destroys intimacy. I need to restate that comment or, as Sarah Palin would say, “refudiate” it. While codependence can destroy intimacy, more likely it will just prevent intimacy from happening.

Intimacy, according to Harriet Lerner in The Dance of Intimacy, is when “we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same.” An intimate relationship, “is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way”. Intimacy, therefore, requires a healthy dose of self care.

Codependent relationships, on the other hand, tend to negate self rather than care for it. It reminds me of the old Dusty Springfield song, Wishin’ and Hopin.’ “Show him that you care just for him; do the things he likes to do; wear your hair just for him, 'cause you won't get him thinkin' and a-prayin', wishin' and a-hopin'” Indeed. In codependence, a certain investment underlies our behaviours: we do things for (or to) another in hopes that the other will like, love, respect, care for, and/or, among other things, see us—we care for self by caring for the other. Within this investment there also lies an inherent self betrayal as our well-being is dependent not on what we feel about ourselves but what the other thinks or feels about us. By focusing on the other as an indirect form of self care, we lose sight of who we are. The relationship is no longer balanced and intimacy is constrained.

The question, however, is not so much what is intimacy but do we want it? Intimacy can be scary and challenging as it asks us to be open and vulnerable not only with our partners but, more importantly, with ourselves. To be loved by another, to share a deep form of shared intimacy, our biggest challenge lies in loving our self.

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