"Intimacy Adversity is the fear of getting
what we actually need"
We get that this is not
how you want things to be
The pain, the fear, the shame, the not knowing
what is wrong or why, stop intimacy in its tracks
With Our help...
This is what it can be like
for You and Those in your World
"Intimacy is not just about romantic relationships. It’s also not just about how you relate to other people. All of that stems from how you relate to yourself"
Intimacy Adversity, Briefly
Intimacy Adversity is a Spectrum, or Continuum, that consists of
Healthy Intimacy at one end and ranging through Intimacy Hesitancy, Resistance, Avoidance, Aversion to Intimacy Anorexia through a new category, Intimacy Enmity:
Common Indicators of Intimacy Adversity
Takes Some Effort to Share
Listens but in/out of Presence
Feels like more Take than Give
Often Offered Solutions over feelings
Lack of Presence
Sex Feels Disconnected
Relationship feels largely
Spouse is always "About Me"
Sex mostly doesn't happen
Feels Like We are Living Separate Lives
Feels Like We Are Enemies
Sex is Reluctant or Using Me
For a more detailed discussion of Intimacy Adversity, please scroll down to the next section
What is Intimacy Adversity?
We now use the term "Intimacy Adversity" because the terms we used to use "Intimacy Avoidance," and "Intimacy Anorexia" were each a bit narrow in scope and seemed to imply that difficulty being emotionally or physically intimate was simply a conscious choice - a way of thinking that allows for judgment and, worse, deep personalization (and why wouldn't the person who so badly wants to connect, feel that it is personal?). Either of these might result in labelling a behavior that is, frankly, based in fear and early negative experiences... Meaning that most intimacy "avoidance" is not consciously thought through, malicious and is actually unconscious and thus not really any kind of "choice." It is, perhaps, consciously known to the "avoidant" only as a feeling of discomfort that they immediately (like any pain humans feel) want to avoid... and do. For a deeper explanation of Intimacy Adversity terms:
That a person experiencing intimacy adversity may
appear to do nothing about the problem,
even when it is made known to them,
does not necessarily mean that they are
actively and willfully withholding intimacy
It may surprise you to know that people who have the kind of intimacy difficulties that result in avoidance types of behavior actually want nothing more than to be closer to their partners, children, and friends. Typically, what they learned, somewhere in their formative years (0-12-18 y.o.), was that the feeling states that closeness (intimacy) required were dangerous and they could be hurt, shamed, made wrong, belittled, bullied, and, potentially, punished.
When we associate any naturally connective behavior with pain, emotional or physical, we quickly learn to keep ourselves safe (aka "Survive") in the only ways that children can (absent a parent/other who teaches them helpful, age-appropriate coping skills): Hide; Don't share, or show, my bids for connection: my emotions, my interests, my pain, my wants, my desires... who I am.
Most adults have brought what kept them safe as a child into their adulthood and, quite often, they only show these defenses, unconsciously of course, when a relationship settles into its journey. Even if you've never been the source of pain, the unconscious, childhood fears for their existential survival that became deep drivers of behaviors as an adult, can cause your partner to actively push you away, simply hold a distance or you feel like no matter what you do, you can't break through their wall and can't seem to change even when you tell them what you feel is happening. The odd thing is that they feel that they can never quite reach you either... as though they are reaching out their hand toward yours, fingers extended but there is always just an inch of space between you no matter how much they may want it. And then, in pain and shame, they give up - settling into what they've always known as a very lonely "comfortable," safe place; Distance.
Intimacy Adversity is the, usually, unconscious, withholding of intimacy from one's relationship partner
(and, typically, everyone else in that person's life).
It is often unknown or unseen by the person experiencing it, yet causes significant emotional pain and difficulty for them
and their loved ones.
If it feels frustratingly intractable to you, that's because it is... It is also where we can help.
By making it conscious, by healing the blocks from those early years,
by holding space for a person to be vulnerable and hold that vulnerability,
and their courage in sharing, both safe and sacred;
helping them re-story and re-parent that earlier experience
and learning that you can also hold that space for them.