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Intimacy and Connection

“My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.”
~ Gary Shandling

When most people hear the word intimacy they conjure up images of adults in “adult situations.” Because of the sexual connotation of the word intimacy, it can be difficult to engage someone in a conversation on this topic without becoming at least mildly uncomfortable. So let’s start by clarifying what I’m talking about when I refer to intimacy. I like to define intimacy as:

closeness and familiarity; closeness that comes as a result of having the courage to be completely engaged and connected

But how do we become completely engaged and connected in a relationship? It starts with a better understanding of ourselves.
Many people today have grown up in families with varying degrees of dysfunction. Whether due to alcoholism, drug addiction, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or sheer coldness, many of us have been exposed to factors that have left us in a state of self-protection. In spite of these factors, many people are able to let go of their pasts and move forward in their lives by building close and intimate relationships firmly rooted in trust and love.
They are able to do this by realizing that they are not slaves to their family’s behavioral patterns or genetic pre-dispositions. Although these patterns and predispositions clearly have an effect on an individual’s behavior, they are not the only determining factors. They get to a point of finding their own definitions of success and happiness and begin surrounding themselves with people who support them in their decisions. Once you let go of your past, you too, will be able to identify the differences between what is a negative pattern or predisposition and what you want in the here and now.

Here are some simple things you can do to improve the level of intimacy in all your relationships:

  • Clarify your definition of happiness. Don’t borrow someone else’s, find your own
  • Write down the significant relationships in your life and determine whether they support this definition of happiness
  • If you decide a relationship doesn’t support you, deduce what changes you can make to alter the nature of the relationship

Remember that the level of intimacy in your life is predicated on your willingness to be open. A fear of intimacy is often created by circumstances out of your control, but you can seek help to resolve these issues whenever you choose. Intimacy and connection go hand in hand. As you become more open, the joy and happiness you experience will increase exponentially.

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