The one thing that most limits your relationships may be something you’ve completely overlooked. You may fear that you are not funny enough, or attractive enough, or intelligent enough. You may doubt your abilities to carry on conversations. But these things pale in comparison to the number one killer of relationships: fear of intimacy.
Fear of intimacy drives us to avoid connecting deeply with other people. We are afraid of the thought of people knowing us too deeply, perhaps because we fear people won’t like us if they know us that well. This fear can affect our romantic relationships, our family relationships, and even relationships at work and with friends. If you find yourself backing away from people that you know you should be able to trust, here are a couple of things to think about….
Intimacy isn’t bad, but people sometimes can be.
It may be that you’ve been hurt before (most of us have), and you may have come to believe that the reason you were hurt is that you allowed yourself to open up to someone else. It’s possible that you were simply trying to continue to grow in the relationship, but when you opened up, someone used what you shared against you. Relationships won’t grow without trust and intimacy. Intimacy is not bad in and of itself. People on the other hand, can act in very bad ways, and many times they can use your attempts to relate, to hurt or betray you. It may be that your problem isn’t intimacy, but the people you’ve chosen to try to relate with. Although opening up again to someone in the future may be scary, it’s a necessary step if you want to have a healthy and satisfying life. Don’t let bad past experiences distort your present choices!
Intimacy isn’t bad, but too much of it too soon can be.
Intimacy, like a brick wall, must be built one brick at a time. Trust grows over time, and so does closeness in relationships. Opening up too much and moving too quickly can put you in a dangerous place. It will either overwhelm the person you are trying to relate to, or it will de-value what you are sharing (sometimes both). Remember, even small things can build a relationship. Every talk doesn’t need to be an earth-shattering, heart-exploding, share-everything sort of talk. Take your time and share the small stuff. You need to be patient as you open up, and the person you are relating to needs to prove themselves worthy of your trust.
So, if you find yourself lonely, hurt, or both, don’t just shut down and try to live off surface-level, empty relationships. It won’t be satisfying! Intimacy is good even though it’s risky. So, take your time and allow people to earn your trust. The fears you’ve accumulated over the years will lessen, and you’ll find quality relationships emerging in your world.