For many men, keeping their
shape goes no further than concerns about physical appearance: am I too fat,
am I too thin, should I diet or try to build up more muscle? If desired, our
physical shape can usually be altered with a little effort and will power.
But in a world where men often place great value on physical attractiveness
and external desirability, the shape of our inner selves is often neglected.
How familiar are we with a sense of our own inner boundaries and how easily
are we able to hold on to this shape when entering intimate relationships
Our personalities and sense of self are formed in childhood and adolescence
and this has an influence on the nature of our intimate relationships in
If we reach adolescence with an impoverished sense of our own self, then it
may be more difficult to keep our shape within an intimate sexual
Falling in love can be exhilarating and we can feel happier, more confident
and more alive.
However the patterns of our early childhood relationships help to inform our
current, adult ones.
If the early patterns of intimacy are healthy enough then we are able to
deal with the more uncomfortable aspects of being in a relationship. That
is, the times of uncertainty, frustration, doubt , anxiety and confusion
which are perhaps common to all relationships, particularly in the early
We can project all sorts of fantasies and feelings from our childhood onto
our present day loved one. For example, feelings of low self esteem could be
expressed as; "how can he possibly love someone as worthless as me?" or you
may find yourself brimming with anger because he never does the dishes.
Both can be just as disabling. It can mean that you give away our own
potency as well as radically alter your shape. You may feel inflexible and
rigid, or may experience feeling overwhelmed and out of control. You might
respond by becoming withdrawn and uncommunicative or by feeling insecure and
becoming demanding and possessive.
These dynamics are common to most long term relationships and need not be a
problem if you are able to untangle yourself enough to be aware of what is
really going on.
Such feelings might not belong to the other person, but could say more about
how you feel about yourself. Feelings aroused and ways of behaving within
relationships may have originated from earlier experiences in childhood
If you feel that you fall into the same, painful patterns every time, then
you can ask yourself- what is it that make me feel this way and what can I
do to change.
It may mean that you have to spend more time considering the boundaries of
your own shape. Do you need to be more flexible, more tolerant of
differences? Or do you need to nurture your own qualities of assertiveness
and self confidence.
What do you like about yourself and how can you accept or change the things
that you dislike? How are you able to hold onto your true shape?