We all have ways of shutting intimacy down when we don’t feel we have the time or inclination to ‘go there’ with whoever is demanding it from us. Here at iSpot HQ we call these the Intimacy Killers and those who employ their use Intimacy Assassins…
Why You Can’t Be Intimate
So why is it we try and avoid intimacy some/most or – like a good many of us, we suspect! – ALL of the time?
It often starts with a difficult experience in childhood when our early efforts to be ‘seen’ and vulnerable may have been exploited in some way – laughed at, ignored, belittled, ridiculed or bullied out of us.
Unsurprisingly, we interpret these kinds of responses as a sign that being seen by others when we’re vulnerable is ‘dangerous’ or humiliating…in short, we experience intimacy as a pretty vile experience: “Haha!”, we think, “Best we tuck ourselves in and not show any fragility, vulnerability or emotion. At all. Ever”.
The sad part is, is that in trying to protect ourselves from being shamed for showing ALL of us, especially to the grown ups we trusted, what we do is deny our very own ‘humanness’ – those emotional, connecting parts which make us ‘us’. Consequently, as adults we miss out on showing and sharing the very parts of us that are the foundations for deep and honest connection, love, trust and friendship.
Basically, we’re scared silly to be really ‘seen’, spend the rest of our lives at once desperate to be seen but utterly terrified of it and consequently miss out on all the mind-blowing, heart-racing, soul quenching joys that are part and parcel of this intimacy malarkey!
So, if you, like us, want to rectify this situation and start living life in the blowing (!), racing, quenching fast lane of intimacy it’s time to start addressing the ways you’re keeping yourself running scared…
What Are Your Intimacy Killing Weapons Of Choice?
TV/Games/Computer/Phone. Yep, all the mindless scrolling, viewing, button-pressing (of the wrong variety!) activities you engage in are slowly killing off your chances of intimacy.
Now don’t get me wrong…I can bash out a game of Tekken on the Xbox, get endlessly lost in Suits, search for shit I don’t need on Amazon and read about people’s lives I really don’t care about on Facebook like the best of them…But one look at Lea’s face and I can see the intimacy effect!
Does this mean we shouldn’t do any of these things? No! But the key word is often ‘mindless’ – pretty big clue there that avoidance is at play!
Practise some radical honesty with yourself and note if any of these are your avoidance tactics for killing off intimacy in your relationships – including with yourself.
I don’t know about you but sleep has always been a pretty good weapon in the intimacy avoidance stakes for me! Leave sex until last thing at night when I’m too tired – Ooooh I’ve successfully avoided intimacy! Lea starts talking to me about intimacy: Oh YAWN…I need a kip.
Obviously there are several things at play here…
First expecting ALL your needs for intimacy and connection to be met purely through sex is never going to work. Intimacy is something that can be created in micro moments throughout the day.
Second, leaving sex – especially as a primary way of reconnecting and being close – until the very end of the day when you’re half-baked is never going to lead to happy endings, if you catch my drift!
Finally, when we want to avoid something it’s easy to believe we’re tired when really it’s just a way out of having to face the difficult stuff! To be honest, I could add eating, talking, being a clown and many others onto this list but I’d rather move on to one of Lea’s classic intimacy killing tactic…
Yep, Lea’s oft-used intimacy killer is to get herself worked up into a big fat rage. It’s highly successful as funnily enough I’m never that keen to be around her when she has the look of a deranged, plate-throwing psychopath in her eyes and it’s a full moon. (Obviously I’m painting her out to be a raging beast to cover my shame at my own intimacy killers!).
Anger as a strategy is a fast, effective and dangerous way of slamming shut the door on intimacy – it’s difficult to deal with, very disconnecting and often frightening for others to face, and while it sometimes can be a useful emotion, it’s an isolating one designed to keep others out very effectively (just ask Lea!).
The above tactics and tools are our weapons of choice – do you know what yours are?
How Do We Put Down Our Weapons?
If the above is sounding a little too familiar AND you’re already wondering if there’s something you can do about it because you, like us, know intimacy could be our superpower, we have some advice, based upon our own experiences after 3 hard-fought years through the battlefields of intimacy!
As you’re going about your usual business this week, follow this 3-pronged, intimacy-reviving advice:
1. Notice ALL the ways in which you might be avoiding intimacy – what are YOUR intimacy-killing weapons? Do you notice any patterns around where and how you use each of your tactics? As with everything, the first step to creating change is awareness of what is…
2. Ask yourself WHY you’re avoiding intimacy. What would happen if you were more intimate/seen? What are you gaining by keeping yourself ‘safe’ and hidden? What are you losing by keeping yourself ‘safe’ and hidden?
3. Commit to making one small change. Allow yourself to continue engaging in the avoidance behaviours – after all this is probably a form of self-soothing your fears and may have, at one point, been a useful tool for you and helped you survive. BUT, if these behaviours are no longer serving you well and are instead keeping you from living a fully connected, fully intimate life, set a timer on allowing yourself to continue to meet those needs through your avoidance behaviours and then move out of them and into something different.*
And us? ?We have worked hard on noticing our intimacy killers and from observing them moved into addressing them. It’s been hard. Sometimes we fuck it up and have another blazing row about it but it all moves us down the path of radical honesty that we’re both committed to with each other. And seeing the micro shifts we make is so rewarding – being able to come out of our triggered places as intimacy assassins, and forge a way back into the realms of love and connection is amazing and often brings a tear to my eye.
Author’s Note: I’m aware that I’ve brought my usual dose of humour to this post but really I have found it quite a sad and poignant one to write. When I think about how much time I’ve wasted (and on occasion continue to waste) on avoiding intimate connection and closeness it nigh on breaks me. Moreover, knowing that there are some key people in my life that I’d love to be much closer to but that they will probably never want to practice any form of radical honesty is truly devastating. For them and me.
* For more support in achieving this, we explore the nuts and bolts of HOW to actually change those behaviours and move into something different in Into Me I See.