As I lie naked with my lover, I feel completely comfortable and at peace. Being naked with another person is a vulnerable experience. I’m not perfect: my hairline is receding, my skin is getting wrinkles, I have a scar on my jaw, I’m about 10 lbs above my ideal weight and I lost my left index finger in an accident. But I feel comfortable being naked with my lover because I accept my flaws. The word flaw itself simply means an imperfection, yet none of us is perfect. Accepting one’s self completely is what I call radical self acceptance: to accept everything about who I am. This radical self acceptance is what allows me to relax into physical intimacy without feeling anxious or unworthy.
In the same way, radical self acceptance of who we are emotionally can allow for greater emotional intimacy. To accept all of our insecurities, fears, quirks and preferences without condemnation. Many of us end our childhood with internal messages of not being good enough; in fact, this is so common that I’ve started to think of it as normal – part of the human condition – even though few would admit to it. This lack of self acceptance/self love interferes with our ability to be emotionally intimate with another person. We can only be as intimate with another as we are first intimate with ourselves. We don’t have to change anything about ourselves first, other than our lack of self acceptance. We may still have our insecurities, but we can accept those as aspects of who we are. Yes, we may also want to work on getting more secure, just like I work to lose those extra 10 lbs. But the present moment is all we have, and it’s only in the present that we can accept who we are right now, even as we may be taking steps toward change. Radical self acceptance is the key to intimacy.