Integrity [in-teg-ri-tee]: noun
- adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
- the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.
There are many ways we violate our integrity in relationships.
Over time, our primary relationship will challenge us to maintain our integrity. One of the first symptoms of an integrity leak is when the worst in us begins to drive our thoughts and behavior. We become stingy, mean, withholding, resentful, retaliatory, dishonest or disdainful of our partner’s perspective. We may pretend not to know what your partner is asking for. We might let contempt permeate your interactions. We may withhold the sweetness of connection with our partner while we go through the motions of sex (if we are having sex at all!). Some degree of this type of lack of integrity is commonplace and, I would argue, inevitable in long term, committed relationships.
Own your behavior.
The first step back toward integrity is to own up to what you are feeling and what you are doing! Only the best in us can talk about the worst; the worst in us always pretends it isn’t there. This is not a comfortable thing to do. Many of us have learned to hide, deny or become oblivious to our own darker sides, and the thought of showing those parts in the light of day is scary. It takes tremendous courage and integrity to come from the best in you and call out the worst.
We stifle ourselves by accommodating too much.
Another integrity trap in long term relationships is a lack of wholeness. Often, when we start relationships, we present the best in ourselves. We are keenly aware of how our partner is responding to us – what they like and what pushes their comfort zone. Frequently, we accommodate their preferences in order to keep the peace; we put away some of our needs, our desires, and our basic nature so that life goes smoothly and our partner is at ease. The problem is that, over time, we miss those parts we put away. We begin to feel resentful. Or entitled to more. Or empty and disconnected.
The answer, again, is to show up fully as ourselves, with the good and the bad, with the needs and desires our partner is happy to meet and those that push their edges. This takes the ego strength to claim what you want and who you are. And don’t be surprised when your partner at first pushes back and then rises up to meet you with his or her own needs and desires!
These integrity issues show up in sex.
What does all this have to do with sex? We tend to demonstrate the same lack of integrity in our sexual interactions as we do with all the others. We come to sex from the worst in us – resentful, withholding or disconnected – and we show up with only a small segment of our erotic selves. One key to bringing your sexual relationship back to life is to bring your integrity. Be honest about how you have let the worst in you dominate your behavior. Show up and talk about what you really want in sex and who you really are sexually. And keep working on it even when it’s hard!