I'll start with a story, one that is a thousand percent true. I'm planning a trip next month to visit some dear friends in Chicago. They just got married (yeah)! We started talking about what to do while I was there and I jokingly said, "find me a date and we can double, she doesn't have to love me forever, just for one night." And I was being serious. What was said back to me was, "OK, but you need to talk! The last time we tried to set you up, you didn't talk." Then last night, after hanging up the phone at around 1:30 in the morning, I said to myself, "wait, you can talk, you just did!"
Today, I sit here, and I wonder to myself what the difference is. Why can I pick up the phone and talk for hours to someone I barely know and then placed in another scenario, clam up and barely speak at all. And I'm starting to get it sorted out. And I think it has to do with being intimate. What is intimacy? Well, thanks to the Internet, I get a head start.
in·ti·mate (nt-mt) adj.
1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity.
2. Relating to or indicative of one's deepest nature: intimate prayers.
3. Essential; innermost: the intimate structure of matter.
4. Marked by informality and privacy: an intimate nightclub.
5. Very personal; private: an intimate letter.
6. Of or involved in a sexual relationship.
So what does this mean? I'll skip the sexual definition, that's an area of intimacy that I know nothing about. It's been over three years and the 3 seconds I would last would be more like the movie American Pie
than anywhere close to intimate. Stop laughing, I understand that statement was too much information (TMI), we can talk about that another day. You can call me pathetic if you want, and I will politely, with passion, tell you to go eff yourself (which could be intimate for you). So let's talk about what being intimate really is and try to figure out why this applies to all kinds of relationships and why there are times when I cannot talk.
From the definitions, three words stand out the most.
Close. Personal. Essential.
First, what does close mean. Close is not just a physical thing, it's more than just saying that we are near each other. It means that we can connect. I get you. You get me. We can be close on different levels, for instance, we could be close in our political views, we share the same beliefs, the same theories. In this scenario, we may also be a battleground state and completely disagree on religion. At the end of the day, we are still being intimate with each other because it is personal. It really starts to become all about opening up. Being personal. I am certainly a person that has walls I put up for some people. I don't want to let them in, but for some reason, I need them. I also have a blanket fort (not my idea for an analogy, but it works) and as long as we play nice together, you are more than welcome to come in. On some days, you may be in my blanket fort, others, you may be on the other side of my wall. However, once you are inside, we can share deep dark secrets because at that point, I've accepted you and trust you to be intimate with me. As for those other days when there is an eight foot thick wall between us, I'll just toss over a note if I need you. Lastly, it's essential to be intimate. You may be one that is intimate with a favorite author, you are close to their words, their writing affects you personally. It could be intangibles, I'm intimate with discovering ways to teach children how to think and reason. No matter how you chose to have it, it is absolutely essential that you have intimacy in your life.
Intimacy changes though. For example, I have been intimate with a software product. We were really close. I even slept with the code, literally, I fell asleep one night working with the code. I could tell you how every wheel turned inside. We were close. And since I was also passionate about it, it was essential that I stayed so close. Over time, we grew apart, she changed, I got bored and moved on. But! We still stay in touch, and she allows me to be in her blanket fort sometimes, I just can't spend the night any more. It's OK for intimacy to change, we are not stagnant creatures, we evolve as I am doing here. I'm stepping back and wondering who and what I wan't to share my intimacy with. And maybe it's just for a little bit of time, maybe it's forever. One way or another, it's there, I cannot escape it.
So how does this all go back to my scenario of being able to talk to some people like we've been friends forever and others I just cannot talk to? It is forced intimacy. Maybe I take things too seriously. If I sit down for dinner with you on a date, I expect that date will be intimate (No, I'm not talking about that
kind of intimate), but in all seriousness, it "should" be intimate. And that kind of scares me. I am all of the sudden completely speechless. There is this hampster in my head that just stops spinning the wheel. He gets scared. Maybe my hampster should instead run like hell!
A few years ago I ran into an old high school classmate. Yeah, I'll admit, I did have a crush on her then, but we are all grown up now and I got past that. The point is, though, that we went out to dinner. We ate, had a few glasses of wine and we talked. As I drove home that night, I thought about our dinner. It's hard to describe, but as we sat there, every thing else just seemed to fade away, there was no one else at the restaurant, there were no wars going on, no one was starving, it was just the two of us, enjoying each other, being intimate. Those moments where the "rest" of the world goes fuzzy, yeah, that's intimate. That night, I could talk, and I did, and she did, and we still do, but I was in a situation where I knew the outcome, we would have dinner, we would go home and we would chat another day. We were just two friends hanging out.
So then I started thinking maybe it's the unknown that I'm scared of. In the case where I was on a date, I did not know what the outcome was going to be. Would we run off and get married? Would we have a huge fight? I didn't know! And I had the expectation that the evening should be intimate as we started to learn about each other. In the case where I was out with a friend, I knew exactly what was happening, we were eating, we had a great time and we will probably (and did) do it again. Not knowing what the outcome of a situation or a relationship is going to be, not knowing if you are, or should be intimate, well that absolutely scares the shit out of me. I need to learn how to believe (next time).
Cheers my friends.