5) Don’t drive intimacy away by trying too hard
I remember feeding sting rays in the sea in Tobago (well, it seemed safe!). If I tried too hard to force feed these gliding creatures, they’d run (okay, swim…obviously) a mile. But when I relaxed, stayed still, and let them come to me in their own time, then they’d take food from my hand quite naturally.
Intimacy is about sharing and making connections. I always think disclosures need to be exchanged; so rather than grilling someone and making them feel defensive (“Well, how was your day? What are you thinking? Now what are you thinking?”), we can allow people space in which intimacy can be given a chance to work.
Being intimate is like a dance. Sometimes we are close and at other times we have more space, but we are always ‘in orbit’ of one another. Demanding too much intimacy too soon can drive it away.
6) Remember: Don’t go tarring with the same brush
If you suspect you’ve had trouble making and maintaining emotional intimacy, it may be that you were hurt in the past and feel that getting close to others just leaves you too vulnerable. Actually, of course, having other close people in our lives makes us much less vulnerable (2), but it’s understandable that past hurts can make us wary of future closeness.
Your unconscious mind is there, in large part, to err on the side of caution and keep you safe. But sometimes its attempts at keeping you safe backfire and prevent you getting what you need in life. Some people let others down and some people don’t let others down. Feeling and acting as if everyone always lets you down is unrealistic and a losing strategy.
Start to think about the differences between people. If you have been wanting to get close to someone but have been afraid of intimacy, write down (and think about everyday) the differences between them and any people who let you down before. This will gently train your unconscious mind to open up more.
7) Look for exceptions
When we are labelled (or label ourselves) with the tag of having ‘problems with emotional intimacy’, we can start to feel unrealistically hopeless. But problems are seldom absolute. Think about times when you have felt closer and connected – whether that’s been with a pet, a friend from schooldays, or a family member. What does that closeness feel like? What does it do for you? If you feel that you’ve really never experienced emotional intimacy, then get into the habit of imagining what it’s going to feel like.
To help you access the feelings of intimacy, why not listen to the free guided audio relaxation below – it’s brief, but it will give you a taster of how powerful your mind can be in making great changes.
Being close to someone, having good friends, and knowing that problems can be shared is one of the most precious things in life.
Curated by Erbe