The Paradox of Intimacy

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“When we all play it safe, we create a world of utmost insecurity.”  (Dag Hammershold).

Unless we are willing to risk the loss of a relationship, we cannot rightfully navigate within it.  If we are preoccupied with playing it safe, afraid to rock the boat, we lose the very juice that lubricates  genuine union. Although true intimacy requires an authentic exchange of thoughts and feelings, and an environment that supports this kind of deep sharing,  it is unfortunately common to find ourselves in relationships that value harmony over truth.

I meet with hundreds of men and women who are afraid of their own voices. They are afraid that

expressing their needs, their expectations and their frustrations may destroy the foundation of harmony that sustains their relationship. They fear their partner’s reaction. Will they get angry and defensive? Will they withdraw and shut them out?  Will they threaten to leave or have an affair? What will be the fallout?

Continually silencing our feelings, we are willing to neglect our deepest selves in order to be “loved”. We give in, time and time again, to a partner who intentionally or unintentionally ends up in control with unilateral decisions, thoughtless behavior, put downs, neglect or even verbal and emotional abuse. If harmony dictates the rules if a partnership, truth most assuredly will get lost in the shuffle. And when there is no truth, genuine intimacy dies. If one person allows the other to dominate, both people lose because the loser will make the winner pay. Resentment eventually takes root. Affection, generosity, and trust get withdrawn, and the relationship starts its downward spiral.

If we allow our fear of conflict and our need for harmony dictate the foundation of our relationships, there will be nothing left of ourselves to genuinely share!  Love is a wonderful thing, but sacrificing ourselves to get it makes it an impossibility.

If we feel that our relationships don’t allow the expression of our needs and feelings, let us not be so quick to blame our partners.  Maybe we are the ones who need to believe in the value and the power of our truth. Maybe we are the ones who need to understand that without truth, real intimacy is a sham. Maybe we are the ones who need to plug into our courage and move beyond our fear.

And if after all that, if our relationship still doesn’t allow for the beauty of our voices, perhaps we shouldn’t be in it!

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