Human beings have an inherent need to share who they are with others; they need to be seen and heard. When this happens, one will share what is really taking place for them and not what they think someone wants to hear or what will make them 'look right’.
However, in order for someone to open up, they will need to feel safe in the other person’s presence. If one doesn’t feel safe, it might not matter how comfortable they are in their own skin.
So in order for intimacy to take place, each person will need to feel at ease. This is not to say that one can’t open up if they don’t feel safe; as it could be what leads to intimacy.
In this example, it could be said that one is showing a greater level of vulnerability than usual. Whenever one opens up and shares who they are, they are being vulnerable; there is no other way to experience intimacy.
There will be times when has the need to open up even though they don’t feel safe and there will be times when they will need to maintain their boundaries. Overtime, one will gain a better understanding of when it is a good idea for them to open up and when it isn’t.
If one knew that it wasn’t right for them to open up and they went along with it anyway, they might end up harming themselves. This is why it will be important for them to listen to their own guidance.
When one is in touch with their true self, it will be easier for them to experience intimacy. This will mean that one is in touch with their body as opposed to be being stuck in their head.
One’s true needs and feelings will be found in their body and not their head; so unless one has this connection, they won’t know who they really are. And if one doesn’t know who they are, they won’t be able to share who they are.
They won’t be able to share how they really feel and this is because they won’t know how they feel. One is likely to be living on the surface of themselves, and this is going to mean that it is not possible for true intimacy to arise.
Instead, one might be focused on doing what they can to protect themselves and this is going to mean that it won’t be possible for them to be vulnerable. Their intention won’t be to open up; it will be to do what they can to say the right thing and to come across in the right way.
Image over Substance
Yet, just because someone operates from their false-self, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be in relationship. To the outside observer, they could come across as though they are in an intimate relationship with someone.
If one was to go by appearances alone, everything would look fine, but if they were to dig a little deeper, they would see that there is more than meets the eye. It won’t matter how each person feels, what will matter is how each person looks.
This doesn’t mean that other person has the same level of disconnection, as they might be in touch with this need. However, until they are both willing to embrace how they feel, it won’t be possible for intimacy to take place.
It is then similar to how one can be in a room full of people and still feel as though they are alone. One’s need to connect to another person has been replaced by their need to look good in the eyes of others.
And when one is generally disconnected from their need to experience intimacy, it will give them a sense of control. This is because they are likely to attract people who are in touch with this need.
The other person’s vulnerability is likely to trigger one’s issues around being vulnerable and this could cause them to put the other person down. One person is then willing to open up and the other person is focused on doing everything they can to maintain their image of being invulnerable.
The need to control can not only take place between lovers, it can also take place between friends and family. If intimacy was purely about having sex or one person sharing their body with another, then this wouldn’t be the case.
So while one might not be in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, the need to keep people at a distance can still take place. The people they associate with may only get to know about what they won’t them to know. On one hand, this will stop them from forming deeper connections, but on the other, it will allow them to protect themselves and to maintain a certain image.
Having the need to protect oneself is normal, but when this stops one from experiencing intimacy, it shows that something is not right. Yet, although keeping others at a distance will create pain, it is a way for them to keep their own pain at bay.
One may be aware of this pain or they may have disconnected from it, however, all the time it remains within them, it is going to stop them from being able to experience intimacy. The need to feel safe is stronger than the need to experience intimacy; so unless one feels safe, it won’t be possible for them to fulfil their higher needs.
This could relate to something that has happened in their adulthood and/or it could go back to their childhood. One may have experienced some kind of loss and as they haven’t been able to grieve this loss, they have closed their heart.
During one’s childhood, they would have been dependent on their caregiver/s and this would have meant they were extremely vulnerable. So if their caregivers lacked empathy and the ability were unable to respect their boundaries, they may have been violated. As a result of this, one would have learnt from an early age that people can’t be trusted and that one has to protect themselves at all times.
These are just a few reasons why someone can stop themselves form opening up to another. Unless one’s body feels safe, it won’t be possible for them to open up.
In order for one to embrace this pain and to open up, they may need the assistance of a therapist, healer and/or a support group.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.