You Me And Intimacy
Shields up! We’re getting close. Avoiding contact in three, two, one… Now, switch to evasive action mode and power out. Phew! Intimacy threat successfully denied.
Life is like that. Our need to be close gets hijacked by our underlying fear of being hurt. With rejection just around the corner, anything can happen, and that’s a threat we want to block.
Never mind YouTube clips of cats playing piano, fear of intimacy has the ultimate virability (my word). You pick it up this fear quickly as a kid, then hone it over a lifetime, watching it play out time and again in the lives of everyone around you.
That’s why it takes courage to reveal your ordinary self. Rejection stings (And we don’t want to feel excluded, do we?). Belonging is more important than authenticity any day. At least, that’s how we play it.
By putting on the “Teflon”, we minimize the risk that being intimate brings. So we keep up the image and promote the “3 C’s” of cool, calm, and clever.
Facebook is full of it, as is Twitter and the rest of social media. The fact that we like to impress is not just about getting pats. It’s also very much about avoiding brickbats.
Opening yourself to the threat of rejection feels like you are inviting a direct hit. So we pitch an image, which typically makes others else feel a little inadequate. And so it feeds an extra bit of distance.
Never mind that you’re fat, frumpy, and feeling broke. Like feeling unloved and unappreciated… that’s just the upside! Beneath where nobody sees, the fear of being singled out shamed for your inadequacies would be too much to bear. So we fear intimacy of all kinds, getting clever to avoid the risks.
Yet, intimacy is exactly what we need and, inevitably, we head into conflict. Craving acceptance, our longing for love converts into trying to impress. But doing this pushes people away because affectionate tenderness rests on honesty and vulnerability, not impressing.
Being blunt, people need to see your fat rolls, that food speck caught between your teeth, and all the other stuff that reveals you being… well… real. Some will recoil and reject you, it’s true (because they are desperately inadequate themselves). So your open honesty goes too close to the bone for them to cope.
But most people warm to authenticity. They see in you what is also in them, and your open sincerity comforts them. How ironic then that the very genuineness that would give us the most satisfying connected intimacy gets pushed to the back. While we practice our very best game face to win over a wary audience.
Remember this: you are worthy or being loved. You deserve to live with dignity, and you are okay being imperfectly human.
Equally, love others, including all those dreadfully imperfect folk you know. Let go of the need for perfection (it’s stealing so many joys and robbing you of intimacy) and accept that your power is in caring, not impressing.
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