On the Fear of Intimacy

If ever there was a fear with a justified place in the human experience, it is fear of intimacy. This pen is not referring to sex. People have sex every day in this land and beyond without a single iota of emotional intimacy. Sex and love-making are two different worlds.

This pen is talking about emotional and intellectual intimacy. I’m talking about allowing oneself to be yourself with another person and trusting it is safe to do so. No relationship of any kind can be a healthy, flourishing place to be if both people can’t fully be themselves with each other. 

When you’ve absorbed enough wounds in life, such intimacy feels like an impossibility. However, because it feels like an impossibility does not mean it is one. For many of us, myself included, taking the risk of trusting is not a chump change endeavor – not by any measure. There is a close-to-my-heart saying I believe in. It’s okay to be afraid, don’t let it scare you. Meaning, if any of us wait for the fear to pass before we take the risk, we will remain stuck in place.

I have a relationship with my past wounds, my history. And, if there is one thing that gets my back up, it’s the very notion of giving my past wounds decision-making power. Yes, caution and patience are worthy allies. And with them at my side, I’ll be damned if I will allow my history to obliterate the possibility of a deeply loving relationship.

The Courage to Love

Maybe I am a foolish dreamer but I believe love – real love – is very likely the greatest gift life offers us. I think if you are afforded the possibility of real romantic love you are, well, a fool if you allow things like a single tattoo (which I don’t have) or facial hair (which I do have) to be deal breakers. You are equally foolish if you let the size of a woman’s breasts or the length of her legs guide your decision making.

It seems to me many have a plethora of reasons, some conscious, some not so conscious, for avoiding real love. What is his or her schooling? Have they been to college? What did his or her parents do for a living? She or he has a child already? He or she has been married before? She or he is five feet tall? Six feet tall?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the human species is ineffably gifted at coming up with reasons to avoid real love. I remember many years ago going out with a woman for a brief time. We liked each other and all was going well and one evening over dinner she said, I’ve been meaning to ask, what sign are you? Not seeing the bear trap on the ground in front of me, I said, Libra. A look of unutterable horror came over her face. Oh Peter, she said, in a tone so troubled you’d have thought every one she knew just died, We don’t get along. Instantly realizing I was facing a mountain that called for oxygen tanks to summit, I said, What the hell we been doing up to now? She shook her head, put her fork down on the table and said, I should go. I agreed. She left. I finished my meal.

Now I know there are underlying reasons for why we run from or avoid the possibility of love. Nearly always these reasons are found in the soil of our histories. We’ve been wounded before, we’ve been betrayed before. We’ve turned our hearts loose before only to have them gutted. In some instances we were raised in ways that taught us we weren’t much worth loving. So, if you find yourself falling in love, or faced with the possibility of falling in love and being loved, just think, if you run, your history wins – again. Your history does not deserve that kind of decision making power. You do.