Of my many fears, the one of which I am most aware is that of intimacy. I am like a hit and run driver in my relationships with people. Could you speak to me of my fear of intimacy?
Everybody is afraid of intimacy. It is another thing whether you are aware of it or not. Intimacy means exposing yourself before a stranger. We are all strangers – nobody knows anybody. We are even strangers to ourselves, because we don’t know who we are.
Intimacy brings you close to a stranger. You have to drop all your defenses; only then, intimacy is possible. And the fear is that if you drop all your defenses, all your masks, who knows what the stranger is going to do with you?
We are all hiding a thousand and one things – not only from others but from ourselves – because we have been brought up by a sick humanity with all kinds of repressions, inhibitions, taboos. And the fear is that with somebody who is a stranger – and it does not matter, you may have lived with the person for thirty years, forty years; the strangeness never disappears – it feels safer to keep a little defense, a little distance, because somebody can take advantage of your weaknesses, of your frailties, of your vulnerability.
Everybody is afraid of intimacy.
The problem becomes more complicated because everybody wants intimacy. Everybody wants intimacy because otherwise you are alone in this universe – without a friend, without a lover, without anybody you can trust, without anybody to whom you can open all your wounds. And the wounds cannot heal unless they are open. The more you hide them, the more dangerous they become. They can become cancerous.
Intimacy is an essential need on the one hand, so everybody longs for it. But he wants the other person to be intimate, so that the other person drops his defenses, becomes vulnerable, opens all his wounds, drops all his masks and false personality, stands naked as he is. And on the other hand, everybody is afraid of intimacy – with the other person you want to be intimate with, you are not dropping your defenses.
This is one of the conflicts between friends, between lovers: nobody wants to drop his defenses and nobody wants to come in utter nudity and sincerity, open – and both need intimacy.
Unless you drop all your repressions, inhibitions – which are the gifts of your religions, your cultures, your societies, your parents, your education – you will never be able to be intimate with someone.
And you will have to take the initiative.