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Why do we resist intimacy?

Updated: Jan 16

I want to start this blog saying that I've tried writing it 5 times. FIVE TIMES. Why? Because all of my intimacy barriers arose as I was writing.

Resentment towards those who have stifled, neglected or abused me in the past. Resistance to receiving love. A need to control others so that I feel safe. Fear of speaking my truth.

Intimacy = Closeness

True intimacy is embodying and expressing your whole, true self, and allowing those you're with to do the same. It is presence with another person while being vulnerable, honest and open with them. Allowing them to see you in your wholeness, which may include a range of emotions, thoughts and feelings that are difficult to reveal. I have feared judgment from people including those close to me because I experienced judgment from parents, friends and classmates as a child. I tried to be perfect for my parents and make sure I was "okay" so that they were okay. It was a coping strategy that helped me get through rough times growing up.

Just writing about this makes me squirm... Let's take a pause to resource, which may benefit you as you're deepening in intimacy.

Notice your body right now, and see if you can allow any energy you're holding to pass through. As I soften and bring my attention inwards, allowing myself to relax, I shake. I let myself shake.

Then I notice all the sensations, emotions and feelings within. It can be difficult to slow down when we're feeling discomfort. It often feels easier to distract or cover up the discomfort with food or activities. It can be difficult to slow down when we want to be productive, find the right relationship, achieve or acquire something. But this slowing down is the necessary yin to the active yang, a key component to healing and growth.

If we can slow down,

and be with the discomfort

that leads us to avoid intimacy,

we can make space for it to transform,

and we can open to intimacy.

Allowing this change is scary as f***

because what's on the other side

is unknown.

We know the patterns of childhood and blocking intimacy. Maybe we don't like it, but at least it's familiar, and there's a degree of safety in that - some part of us knows we can handle it.

For me, opening to intimacy feels massive. Opening my whole, true self feels like a big feat. Opening to intimacy means telling people what I really think, which may be offensive to them. It's having clear boundaries, which may cause them to go away or project their beliefs on to me. However, when I learn ways of healthy communication and I learn what my truth is, I can more easily dance with discomfort and stay connected while moving through the pain.

Opening to intimacy also means allowing my pleasure to be seen and experienced. I've been afraid that I would be too shiny and end up being used. I've feared judgment from others, judgment that my pleasure was "too much."

I've realized that I've let people use me, AND I've used others to get my needs met. I've realized that I can have healthy, clear boundaries and desires. The more clear I am in my truth, the more clear and nourishing my connections are with everyone I engage with. And as far as being "too much" - just because someone might be uncomfortable with something I'm doing, does not mean that I'm "too much." Part of letting go of people-pleasing behavior is letting go of controlling other people's experiences of me. And part of welcoming my pleasure is letting go of shame around it.

Shame - that's an intimacy barrier. It causes us to shut down and hide. At times I've actually indulged in my shame because it seems like part of me is so attached to being unworthy of love. There's the part of me who aligns with the "Existential Kink" point of view and wants to feel the pleasure of shame. If you're unfamiliar, the basis of "Existential Kink" is that some part of us subconsciously enjoys all of our habits, and once we realize the 'benefit' of them and consciously feel the pleasure of what they're doing for us, much like those who take pleasure in being flogged or receiving pain in other ways, we can find freedom from our pain when we allow it to move through us. I have struggled at times with the "de-shamifying" work of Somatica when all I want with my shame is presence. But sometimes I really do want someone to help me out of it by normalizing what I'm feeling and validating that I'm a good person. That's a vulnerable place to be in.

Vulnerability is a key to intimacy, and something most of us have to train ourselves to be comfortable with. Here's another therapeutic resource: Pendulating.

Pendulating is a way to move into and out of discomfort in a way that ultimately creates resilience and transforms the discomfort into ease and pleasure.

To pendulate, you'll spend a bit of time settling in a calming and enjoyable state of mind and body, then moving into to the discomfort, and back and forth several times until the discomfort eases.

Can you focus on something enjoyable for a few minutes? Let your mind and body rest in the pleasure and ease of something pleasant: perhaps a memory, an imagined "happy place," or a physical experience such as movement or nourishing touch. Let yourself be fully immersed in the experience and feel it through your whole body. When you feel pleasantly relaxed, try imagining an intimate experience, and notice what shifts in your body. If discomfort arises, see how fully you can be with it, and move back into your resourced state when needed.

Our reasons for resisting intimacy may be vast and our strategies may be strong, but with presence, skill, clear intention, patience and consistent practice, we can have intimate relationships that bring us more alive.

If you're ready to try something new, book a free call with me. Together we can discover your growth edges, and what the pathways are to accessing what you desire. I applaud you ahead of time for your bravery - diving into these relational waters is some of the deepest work. I intend to hold you in presence, welcoming you to grow in your own unique way at your own unique pace. Click here if you're ready to explore.

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