Have any of you struggled with intimacy in your relationships? (Why did the guys suddenly get more interested?) Maybe you wonder if you lack in emotional or sexual compatibility? Maybe you carry around a lot of pain due to being hurt by someone you trusted.
True Intimacy is being seen, known and unconditionally loved. It is the strength of self, surrendering to the safety of another, without fear of being abandoned or controlled.
The Problem with Intimacy
We all, at some level, are afraid of intimacy. Intimacy requires a depth of vulnerability that most resist. We feel self-conscious and silly. We feel weak, exposed and needy. What if we are truly seen, but then seen as “less than?” What if we are truly known, but known as “nothing special?” And what if we make ourselves vulnerable and trusting, only to be controlled or abandoned?
You can see the flow, right? If they truly see the real me, I will undoubtedly disappoint them. And if they know the deep things in my life, (my weaknesses or shame or the ugly underside) then they surely will not stay. And if I am vulnerable to the point of being seen and known, then rejection is likely, if not guaranteed, and I will be more lost, more lonely, and more afraid than I was to begin with.
Often, these are not formulated thoughts of which we are conscious. These are buried beliefs informed by past experiences dating back to infanthood. Becoming aware of these buried fears enlighten us to our blind spots and give us more power to overcome them.
What if he/she isn’t Safe for Me?
This is a real pickle, people. Every step toward intimacy requires risk taking. Sometimes you don’t know if the other person is an emotionally safe person to share with, until you actually share. Sometimes you have to put your heart out there in faith- with no guarantee that you will get it back in one piece. Sometimes you just won’t know if the other person is able to, worthy of, or ready for the intimate sharing of your deepest darkest.
Let your inner People Picker weed out safe and unsafe people. Remember this Key Formula: (WORDS + ACTIONS) x TIME = SAFE PERSON. This just means that what a person says and does must match and be consistent, over the course of time, to determine his/her trustworthiness. If the words and the actions don’t match, and behavior is unpredictable over time, this is not a safe person to trust your intimacy with.
Intimacy Builds on Itself
Once you’ve determined that your inner People Picker has trusted a safe person, you can give yourself permission to try a little more intimacy. Here are some steps to increase emotional intimacy in your relationships.
- Structured Exercises: Small Groups, Support Groups, Bible Study, Marriage Groups, Retreats, Work-out Groups, etc. offer a structured and guided opportunity to help people engage in shared experience, spirituality, and growth together.
- Marriage Counseling: Facilitated and mediated communication can help improve a couples’ ability to truly hear one another, problem solve and draw closer in a safe environment.
- Consistent Meet Ups: Whether you’re seeking intimacy with your spouse or your friends, putting something on the calendar with some frequency is a pro-active way to prioritize intimacy in your relationships.
- Daily Devotionals: Spending quiet time each day with yourself and with God is paramount in keeping yourself centered, focused and open to closeness with others. When you feel safe and confident with yourself, you will be more able to take intimacy risks with others.
Let me know what steps you are taking to increase your intimacy quotient with God, with yourself and with others. Cheers to you, and all your relationships!