One of the things I see again and again in my work with couples is…
Intimacy is being able to communicate without the fear of being judged and rejected, without getting defensive. It also means being understood and heard – beyond words and actions. It’s sharing of thoughts, feelings, bodies and souls on every level. It is feeling safe with each other and being able to trust. A confidence that you won’t get hurt. It’s learning and growing together, exploring your own and each other inner worlds. It’s creating a space for each other to grow and support each other’s best interests. It’s being best friends and partners.
However, people who grew up in the families where they were not completely accepted or, even worse, were abused; those who didn’t experience unconditional love from their parents (and most people have encountered this to a certain degree), believe that they have some fundamental flaw, something that will prevent other people from loving them. It expresses itself in a deep seated unconscious feeling – “If you find out who I really am, you’ll stop loving me and abandon me.”
This leads to a fear of intimacy because the closer such people are to somebody, the higher the risk that they won’t be able to hide their imaginary flaw; they are afraid that they will be “found out.” It creates a fear of the inevitable pain caused by unconsciously expected cessation of love and abandonment.
In this sense, true intimacy really starts with ourselves – with a deeper understanding and accepting of ourselves. When we accept ourselves as we are and learn how to love, we realize on a deeper level that we are worthy of love. Then the fear of intimacy (or into-me-see), of feeling naked and vulnerable with another person, disappears. It might be a life-long process, but the reward of being really close to another human being and sharing your life with him(her) is well worth it.