How To Discover Your Intimacy Shadow [EP085]

All of us have essential aspects of ourselves that we’ve learned to hide or suppress in order to protect ourselves. When we claim these “shadow parts,” we profoundly increase our capacity for love and we find access to a tremendous sense of personal power. In this episode, you’ll learn to identify your own intimacy shadow and use it to lead you to love – and your own unique life-genius.

Table of Contents

How To Discover Your Intimacy Shadow

How To Unshackle Your Potential For Authentic Love

Discovering and embracing your intimacy shadow is the key to unlocking your potential for authentic love. Stay tuned to this episode to learn more.

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. This is Ken with his croaky cold voice. I’m a psychotherapist and a coach and the author of the book Deeper Dating, the co-founder of the online meeting event, and the host of this show. Today in this podcast, I’m going to help you understand how you can discover and embrace what I call your intimacy shadow. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the real skills of dating are just the skills of intimacy. If you want to learn more about this approach to finding and keeping love, just go to You can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, and get transcripts of every episode.

If you like what you’re hearing here, it would be a fabulous thank you if you could leave a review on iTunes or elsewhere. The last thing I want to say is that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature, it’s not medical or psychiatric advice. If you’re experiencing any serious psychological symptoms, please do seek professional help. Okay, let’s jump in. Thank you for bearing with my croaky voice. I’m excited about recording this podcast and I’m just going to go with it in my current croaky voice but hopefully, we’ll have my regular voice back really soon. Something I talk about a lot is that the parts of ourselves that we think we need to airbrush out in order to be attractive and to find love are actually, and this is just such a mystery, are the keys to finding love. They’re the keys in a few different ways. One way that these parts of ourselves that we feel timid about revealing are the key to finding love is because they are our genius.

They are our deep sensitivity and passion. That’s why we’re so careful around them. That’s why we can be hurt so much there, but they are the land of our genius. They explain what hurts us. They explain what fills our hearts and they teach us who is right for us. Another reason though that they are so pivotal, so important, is because they are essential parts of our being. When we cut them out, when we airbrush them, when we deny their ferocity, their tenderness, their original truth, it’s like we are shutting our beings down. When we don’t honor those parts of ourselves and honoring doesn’t necessarily mean speaking because these parts of ourselves are not meant for all company. They’re deep, they’re tender, they’re powerful. We don’t just run through life expressing them everywhere. It’s a journey.

Your Intimacy Shadow

DDP 85 | Intimacy Shadow
Intimacy Shadow: As we learn, as you learn, as I learn to perceive these parts of ourselves that are our shadow parts as gifts and not as liabilities, life starts to really make more sense.


It’s an entire life journey to learn to bear the tenderness and the ferocity of those parts of ourselves but always, always the place to start is with the naming them, the identifying them, and the developing a sense of their power and their beauty and their worth, no matter what we’ve been told or taught. When we don’t do that, there are repercussions. Some of the repercussions are that we choose people who do not know how to honor these parts of us. We get involved in a drama where we try to get them to love us for who we are even though it’s an essentially failed task because it’s based on our not being able to dignify those parts of ourselves. It’s being enacted with someone who also doesn’t know how to dignify those parts of ourselves.

The beautiful thing, and I talk about this all the time, is that the more we name and treasure and honor those parts of ourselves, the more our attractions change. This is the single greatest piece of good news that I know for anybody seeking love. The more you name these parts of yourselves, we’re going to talk more about how to do that in this episode, the more you will find yourself attracted to and meeting people who know how to treasure these parts of you. It’s an amazing and essential truth but it’s not one we really get taught.

Other kinds of repercussions are that when we bury these parts of ourselves, we often feel shame and we often feel anger. We might not let ourselves consciously feel that anger but it’s there, because who wants to be imprisoned? Who wants to be crushed? Our gifts certainly get pissed off if that happens to them. Who wants to be confined to a container that denies us freedom and self-honoring? There’s an anger that may be consciously felt or not. Also, what happens is when we can’t honor these parts of ourselves, which I call our intimacy shadow and I’ll tell how to know them in a few minutes. When we can’t, our ways of handling these parts of ourselves in the world will be essentially immature.

They will be a child’s method of self-protection. They will include kind of acting out, suppressing, shame, and indirect expression of our frustration, and our pain, and not being in a place where we honor the very core of our being, which is constantly emanating expression, experience, and aliveness, and the desire for authentic connection with the world. When we shut that down, it creates a number of cycles of pain and then modern dating advice does not help us because it doesn’t tell us that this radical authenticity is the path to finding love. It tells us, no, we have to fix ourselves. We have to change ourselves. We have to flirt better.

We have to become these people that will just make women fall to their knees or make men worship us at our feet like all of this crap that ultimately deeply, deeply takes us away from the serious, beautiful journey of finding love through authenticity. These essential parts of ourselves that we have learned to hide or suppress in order to protect ourselves are our shadow parts. When we claim them, we find our heart, we dramatically increase our capacity for love, and we find access to a tremendous sense of personal power and also creativity, sense of freedom, Eros, and just aliveness. This reflects the most profound and meaningful paradox that I have encountered in my three and a half decades of practice as a psychotherapist. It’s this, the parts of ourselves that we fear will scare love away are actually, in the end, the missing link to finding that love.

At the end of the day, the parts of ourselves that we feel will scare love away can be the missing link to finding deeper love.CLICK TO TWEET

Your Core Gifts

I’m going to give you a question that’s going to help you find your own intimacy shadow. On the surface, it’s going to appear really innocuously simple but if you tackle it honestly and you could do this, just like with all the other podcasts, you can like do it as you walk, do it as you drive, do it as you’re just listening, do it right now. Just answer the questions right as you go along. When you do that, it will point you to potentially the most exhilarating challenge of your life. Here’s the question? What aspects of yourself are you the most uncomfortable, hesitant, or timid to reveal in your relationships? All of us have parts of ourselves where we feel things more deeply than other people. Life just affects us really more deeply around these attributes and I call these our core gifts, and they’re the heart and the soul of the path that I teach. In fact, I’m starting new sets of intensives now, and these are six months intensives, and we spend almost half of the intensive on the discovery and the naming of our core gifts.

You can learn so much more about this from my book Deeper Dating, or my audio course as well, or any of my other courses. These core gifts are the rudder of our being. We feel joy and pain most intensely at these points and the intensity of our experience with the joy or the pain often makes us feel uncomfortable and also somehow different than the people around us. Let me give you some examples and see if any of these hit you or feel true to you. An unrelenting desire for connection, a passion that is so intense that it could feel aggressive, a generosity of spirit so powerful that it can hurt, a quietness or softness of nature that you might have deemed as weak. A passion for truth that has gotten you in trouble again and again and again, a sensitivity so strong that sometimes even seemingly tiny experiences knock you down at the knees, or just gusts of emotion so strong that they bewilder you or embarrass you.

These are your core gift places. These are the language of yourself. These are the places that the world does not teach us how to embrace their wildness, their tenderness, their vastness, essentially. They are the key to deeper love including essential love of self, but often those parts of ourselves are taken advantage of, or abused, or neglected because they’re so unique. They’re so vulnerable and people milk those qualities sometimes in us, instead of honoring them like milking our generosity, our competency, our capacity.

In addition, like all special gifts and talents, like all genius, these parts of ourselves demand inordinate amounts of fuel, maturity, and wisdom, and training, which most of us never receive. As a result, these parts of ourselves become repositories of our deepest insecurities but they also hold the key to understanding why love evades us and Jung explained this beautifully through his seminal concept of the shadow. According to Jung, the shadow is our disowned self. It’s the parts of ourselves that we think are unlovable, unworthy, too strange, unacceptable.

They’re the parts of ourselves that really do spawn our deepest insecurities but they’re also the parts of ourselves that hold our greatest gifts. How amazing that we have been built this way, that the universe works this way, that this is kind of the deeper physics of finding and keeping love? How amazing that is that the last place we want to look is the first place we should be looking, which is in the magic that we’ve been hurt by inside us, so we’ve pushed aside. How powerful, what an amazing story that is. It’s kind of an epic journey and it is the epic journey of deeper love. Ultimately, when we suppress those parts of ourselves, it protects us from immediate pain, but it keeps deeper love forever at arm’s length and it leaves us with a sense of emptiness and insecurities that eat at us.

DDP 85 | Intimacy Shadow
Intimacy Shadow: The more you claim your shadow parts, the more you will find yourself attracted to people who know how to treasure those parts of you.


To protect these parts of ourselves, we create immature defenses that are self-sabotaging, but they’re the best we could do that push away the very love we desire. Another thing that happens, and this is like, it’s an amazing corollary, the degree to which we push those parts down is the degree to which we’re going to be drawn to people who can’t love us for who we are or that we find that we meet people who can love us for who we are and we can’t sustain the dynamic joy of true intimacy in our love relationships. That’s because hiding these parts of ourselves is more than just avoidance. It is an act of quiet violence against our very nature and it creates a terrible vacuum where our authenticity is supposed to be. In the long run, that vacuum ends up being filled with relationships and situations that just diminish us. This is how Jung said it. He said, “That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our life as fate,” or you might say those core gifts that we do not learn how to treasure appear in our lives as crappy romantic relationships, as painful romantic relationships.

Your Life Genius

In my work as a psychotherapist and a teacher, my most essential task is to help my clients discover that those very parts of themselves they feel most hesitant to reveal, reflect their life genius. A genius that the world probably never taught them to cultivate channel and express in positive ways. The act of discovering the tremendous worth of these orphaned parts of ourselves creates an absolute sea change in our lives. This is something that I have the privilege of seeing happen again and again, and has happened in my own life and continues to happen because God knows it’s not like I have done it. It is a constant ongoing process and that’s why I believe in practices like my exercise, my favorite exercise, which I teach in episode three, which is The Inner Mentor™ Processes. It’s one of my most powerful ways to help me kind of continue to deconstruct the shame and grow wisdom and capacity, in embracing and expressing my core gifts.

As we learn, as you learn, as I learn to perceive these parts of ourselves that are our shadow parts as gifts and not as liabilities, life starts to really make more sense. It’s like the underlying story of our life begins to come clear. These things are really true. I’ve seen this again and again. We start to lose our taste for people who chip away at our self-esteem. We choose relationships differently and single people really do start to find themselves meeting and being attracted to people who accept them for who they are. People in couples begin to risk revealing feelings of deeper passion, or intensity, or vulnerability, or need, and relationships that have been stagnant begin to come alive as authenticity, which is the key to true intimacy, starts to reemerge. People develop a sense of inner dignity that comes naturally.

It’s this experience that I describe as kind of being lit from within and a sense of self-worth comes with this as well as finding our tribe which is the people with whom these parts of ourselves are essentially deeply, automatically appreciated, and respected. This journey of learning to honor, and dignify, and cultivate a wiser discipline around your core gifts, around your shadow self is not for the faint of heart, but it is, I believe without a doubt, the true adventure of deeper love. Thank you for listening, including to my raspy voice this week. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. Again, you can go to to sign up for my mailing list. Thank you all.