Intimacy is the ability to be yourself with other people, and allow them to be themselves with you.
It’s the most difficult of the three alternatives to controlling.
Two reasons for this.
First, it requires us to practice the other alternatives as well. Being intimate means both surrendering control over another person (including their thoughts and feelings) and at the same time responding as authentically as possible.
For control addicts that’s akin to learning to play violin while roller skating.
Second, intimacy is scary. It means coming out of hiding, feeling intensely, and exposing ourselves to rejection and other hurts. Hard for anyone. But if you’ve been traumatized by other relationships the idea of such vulnerability can be paralyzing.
Why bother, then?
Sadly, most of us don’t.
Most people I meet have been so wounded in relationships that they’re afraid to trust them again. They’ve decided feeling and vulnerability are just too damned dangerous. So they stay in hiding emotionally, and around other people they armor up.
It’s how they became control addicts, and why they remain so.
Others are forced to learn intimacy in order to recover from some illness that’s even scarier. Thus recovering alcoholics learn to stand in meetings and share painful secrets, and depressives learn to express feelings in group. Hard work, yes. But they do it because they know that the alternative is even harder.
There are some people, though, who set out to learn this most challenging of skills because they understand that intimacy is as good as it gets.
That, for human beings, nothing in life is as rewarding, nurturing, healing or strengthening as a truly intimate relationship.