Physical attraction is usually the springboard for romance. But for true intimacy, authors Robert W. Firestone and Joyce Catlett say in Fear of Intimacy, it's important to look for someone who is:
*non-defensive and open
*honest and has integrity
*respectful of the other person's boundaries, goals and priorities
*not afraid to show physical affection
*willing and able to see their mates as they are and not how they'd like them to be
*not controlling, manipulative or threatening
*Don't avoid or repress your feelings. Be willing to show vulnerability. Men, especially, tend to ignore feelings of hurt or sadness. Instead, talk them out in a non-aggressive way, using statements starting with "I" to express yourself, such as "I feel sad we're not connecting" or "I feel lonely for you." Criticism and blame push people away.
*Don't use the Internet to avoid face-to-face communication with others.
*Rushing into a sexual relationship is likely to lead to a false sense of intimacy. Strive for emotional intimacy first.
*Explore the past, but don't dwell on it. Regardless of what happened when you were growing up, take responsibility for making changes in your behavior and actions.
*Evaluate your expectations of your mate. Don't expect that person to meet your every need.
*Be aware that certain periods in a relationship, such as getting married or having your first child, require difficult adjustments.
SOURCES: Dr. Robert W. Firestone, Joyce Catlett, Dr. John Amodeo, Dr. Les Parrott, Dr. Althea Horner, Dr. Ralph Earle