There are times when we struggle to understand someone’s inability to be intimate; in their levels of affection, in their daily investment in the relationship, in their level of being attuned to our needs. As everything exists on a continuum, as does intimacy. Our ability to be intimate with others, to be vulnerable and open correlates directly with our level of feeling safe. If we don’t feel safe in that position, we will maneuver, avoid, step around, shut down.
The level of safety that someone has for intimacy has been formed by many factors – temperament, experiences from childhood and repeated relationship patterns all can play a role. Traumatic experiences, even in adulthood can also greatly affect our level of intimacy. When in relationship with someone it is important to remember that not everyone can be at the same level at the same time. If there is too much of a difference, or the two people become stuck, it may be time to take space, seek professional help or move on from the relationship, depending on who and what that person represents to you.
And other times, it is acceptance we strive for – knowing that the person is giving us the best of themselves, even though it might not always feel like enough. In either case, we are best served to remember that our ability to be intimate directly correlates to what feels safe. This can help soften and support the process of growth.
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