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It’s OK to feel “young at heart” as long as your emotional tool bag
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Growing Self Awareness

The Magic Restaurant - Metaphor for Relationships

The Magic Restaurant has the most amazing food and an incredible range to choose from. All of your favourite foods are on the menu as well as many others that you have always wanted try but have never had the chance.

There are however two very strict rules at the Magic restaurant.

The first rule is that you cannot eat alone, you must always share your meal with a partner.

The second rule is strictly enforced by the restaurant. Whatever you're eating your partner must eat at the same time, off the same plate, and the same amount, spoonful for spoonful.

If you feel like eating health food your partner must eat health food. If your partner wants to eat chocolate you have to eat chocolate. If you absolutely refuse to eat liver ever, then your partner will never get to eat any liver at the Magic Restaurant. If your partner isn't hungry and does not feel like eating then you have to wait until they get their appetite back because you're not allowed to eat alone.

You're actually quite familiar with this restaurant, you have dined here often during your lifetime. Its more common name is "A Relationship".

Some of the things that are hardest to understand about a relationship can become clearer if you think of what goes on as if it was more like the Magic Restaurant.

One of the most common problems in a relationship centres around people's appetite for closeness and intimacy. I'm not necessarily talking about sexual intimacy here in fact as far as this article is concerned I am not looking at sexual intimacy except as just another side of the big picture.

In many relationships, sadly, sex may be the only time that people experience anything approaching intimacy, and even then it's not really as intimate as it could be. In some relationships even sex can be much like another night at the Magic Restaurant, with the two partners satisfying their physical appetites but not sharing real intimacy. Anyway, for the time being let's talk about closeness and intimacy in a more general way.

What is intimacy?

It’s not quite the same as love because it’s common for people to experience close intimacy without being lovers or being in love with each other. You can experience intimacy with out any sexual content. But if two people, regardless of gender or sexual preferences share real intimacy they will also share love and a deeply connected friendship of one kind or another.

For me, intimacy is a very personal linkage, a special and noticeably different sense of being connected with very few if any barriers. The sharing is close and warm, often very private, the level of openness and honesty is high. That means each person is allowing themselves to be vulnerable, and yet it still feels safe for them to be in this state. It's a combination of things like emotional linkage, closeness and devotion all rolled in together. It is a very special kind of connection.

More connected but less protected - personal

To be intimate with someone you have to turn your protection systems down to the lowest possible yet still safe setting. You are more connected but that means you are less protected. However though you are feeling extremely vulnerable you also need to feel very safe and no matter how safe it seems there will always be some risk of being hurt.

So if intimacy is to continue both partners have to work hard to make sure the risk of being hurt remains as low as possible. The most common problem is going too far or too fast or both and suddenly feeling they cannot back out of the deep level of intimacy they find themselves in. For many people the feeling is one of pure panic, very much like going swimming and finding the water has suddenly got very deep, you can’t feel the sand under your feet.

More protected less connected - impersonal

So a first essential for a successful intimate relationship is to know how to turn your protection systems on or off as quickly as needed. You are then back to the impersonal state of being less connected but more protected. You can feel the sand under your feet again.

Different appetites for closeness and intimacy

For any two people the appetite for Intimacy can vary tremendously. Let’s go back to the Magic Restaurant again. You cannot experience linkage intimacy and closeness by yourself.

Some people have a very strong Intimacy appetite, they are hungry for closeness and intimacy. Let's call them the Intimacy-A type of person. If they find a partner with a similarly Intimacy-A appetite they will dine well and often at the Magic Relationship Restaurant. Even after a substantial meal they will soon be ready from another course of delicious Intimacy-A.

But all too often that's not the way it happens. Some people have a very limited appetite. They get indigestion from too much intimacy too often. Let's call these types Intimacy-B. And unfortunately there are many people who are almost anorexic when it comes to closeness and intimacy. Let's call them Intimacy-X.

All too often people the Intimacy-A people, the ones who are extremely hungry for closeness and intimacy find themselves caught up in a relationship with a Intimacy-B or even an Intimacy-X. The result is a very uncomfortable mealtime for both people at the Magic Relationship Restaurant. There are reasons why these two opposites are so often attracted to each other and I’ll explain more in another article but it is a very common situation not just a sad coincidence.

It's not intimacy if someone just drops all their boundaries and barriers and lets somebody get close to them. For example while we are following this restaurant analogy it's worth noting that even the Intimacy-X (intimacy anorexic) people don’t always starve themselves, After a long period of abstinence they will occasionally develop a sudden appetite for Intimacy and go on an intimacy binge provided they can find an unaware and hungry Intimacy-A who will meet them for a night of feasting at the Magic restaurant.

Afterwards the Intimacy-X has to purge all the excess intimacy before going back to their original state of intimacy anorexia again. This is devastating for the poor Intimacy-A who enjoyed their hearty meal. together and assumed it would be like that again and again. They assumed of course that they were dining with another Intimacy-A and they left the table looking forward to many more lovely feasts to follow.

Sadly that wasn't happen, not at least until the Intimacy-X feels like another binge at the Magic restaurant.

It’s very much the same when an Intimacy-A gets together with a Intimacy-B, just that things can happen a little more slowly but the end result is just as devastating for the Intimacy-A.

It’s not much fun for the Intimacy-B ether.

Some people panic when they find that intimacy has suddenly gone too far or too fast for them, usually driven by the over-enthusiasm of the Intimacy-A The Intimacy-B will enjoy this for a start but then suddenly start to feel trapped or stuck in this deep and scary level of what to them is just too much intimacy at the one time. For the Intimacy-B the feeling is like going swimming and finding the water has suddenly got very deep, Once they can’t feel the sand under their feet they panic.

Dynamiting the Bridge

One of the more common reactions at this point is known as “dynamiting the bridge”. .

The Intimacy-B has to get out of the situation as fast as possible and they may have found in the past that the fastest (not the best) way to do this is to set up a horrible fight with the person they are now feeling too close to!

That way the Intimacy-A person may be devastated but it also means that he or she will back away. In many cases their anger may even add some dynamite to the charge and so the intimacy bridge is blown sky high.

Intimacy X people do the same thing but with TNT and other of the latest explosives instead of ordinary old dynamite.

For more on Healing your relationships, go to -