I met with a fellow from one of my programs today to hear their 5th step. In my mind, hearing someone's 5th step* is a high privilege, probably the highest privilege there is in a 12 step program. During the course of our conversation the topic of intimacy came up, and we discussed how many of us get confused about the difference between intensity and intimacy. I used to think that the intense romantic relationships I had were intimate. As a result of my recovery, I've learned that they were not because I was never vulnerable with people. It's my understanding, and my experience, that intimacy requires vulnerability. But I wasn't capable of that pre-recovery. As another fellow said today, I was basically like a house of card internally - flimsy, awkward, unstable. I've typically thought of myself as having been fragmented pre-recovery, and coming to wholeness as a result of my recovery. But I really like the house of cards metaphor too.
Anyway, back to intensity vs. intimacy: my therapist gave me a formula to think about to help (hopefully) prevent me from getting into codependent relationships again.
I + S = U which means Intensity + Speed = Unstable.
I know that doesn't exactly work out like a mathematical formula, but the idea is that if your relationship is too intense and too rapid, it can only be unstable. There has to be some balance with both the level of intensity and the rate of speed.
To develop a more stable relationship, don't just have really intense experiences and conversations - lighten it up sometimes! Have fun! Do dumb stuff. Spend time with others. And don't go too quickly. If you have a history of going too quickly in relationships, s-l-o-w i-t d-o-w-n. Give them time to contact you back, don't just contact them (I call is "chasing people"). Do things with other friends to put space between the time you see each other. Live your life as if you're still in it!
* Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Barb Nangle is the founder of Higher Power Coaching and Consulting, an entrepreneur and an eternal optimist. She loves motivating others to become better and better versions of themselves, just as she has become better and better versions of herself.