distant intimacy

Over the past 20 years we’ve developed a kind of barrier that allows people in, and keeps them out at the same time. We want to have friends, but not too many close friends. We want to be known, but not too known. We want to be loved, but we want to return love on our terms. We want to fully give ourselves to another, but our confidence in trustis cautious. A paucity of depth in our relationships has woven in us the threads of doubt, fear, and hesitancy. So above all else, we seek to protect our hearts from the outside world, even among those who are close to us.

This has resulted in a kind of distant intimacy between lovers, husbands & wives, siblings, and within many other relationships. We’ve grown careful with how much we bare our souls with another, how much and what kinds of information we pass on, and we think twice about our degree of openness with others. This blocks uncluttered communication and further damages the nurturing of any safety we might desire. Even the excitement of a first date with someone carries some relational tentativeness into it. And long-term commitments…, well, the idea has become a rarity.

Broken relationships, the dissolution of our families, and life shattering events have all but relegated intimacy to short-term sexual encounters with little thought to the context for that kind of intimate connection. Thus, some reflection on moving intimacy from distant to deep—

Deep intimacy takes work: it does not just happen.

  1. Deep intimacy takes time: it is more than a one night stand or a series of dinners out.
  2. Deep intimacy takes forgiveness: admitting you are wrong, versus pointing the finger.
  3. Deep intimacy takes trust: putting your life into another person’s hands.
  4. Deep intimacy takes courage: it is a risk. But, nothing ventured… .
  5. Deep intimacy will hurt at times: that’s where you will be put to the test.
  6. Deep intimacy will cost you— everything. Holding back leads to distant intimacy again.

So, is it worth it? The deep intimacy? Of course it is! But it cannot be possessed without giving something of yourself, with little thought to what you might, or might not, receive in return. Personally, I need God’s help to make every relationship work. You may be different, but I doubt it.