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Excerpted from The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. Copyright 1989 by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"It is when we stay in a relationship over time - whether by necessity or choice - that our capacity for intimacy is truly put to the test."

Harriet Lerner, 
The Dance of Intimacy
, Part 1

I was cleaning my attic when I came across a poem I wrote during my sophomore year of college in Madison, Wisconsin. I vaguely recalled the brief attachment that inspired these lines -- a steamy start which turned into an unbridgeable distance before either of us knew what was happening:

Once you held me so hard
and we were so close
that belly to belly we fused
passed through each other
and back to back
stood strangers again.

Neither the poem nor the romance was memorable, and my words certainly did not capture the anguish I felt when an initially blissful relationship failed. But I was reminded of what intimacy is not. And also what it is.

"All beginnings are lovely," a French proverb reminds us, but intimacy is not about that initial "Velcro stage" of relationships. It is when we stay in a relationship over time - whether by necessity or choice - that our capacity for intimacy is truly put to the test. It is only in long-term relationships that we are called upon to navigate that delicate balance between separateness and connectedness and that we confront the challenge of sustaining both - without losing either when the going gets rough.

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