Avoidance of Intimacy Through Activity

There is something I’ve been mulling over a while and journaling about and that is how people seem to have a constant stream of activities and little to no alone time. As someone who values alone time I have found it difficult to understand why someone would want to fill up their available time with activities rather than connecting with themselves or those in proximity. I’d like to investigate with you some possibilities for what is occurring for people in that situation.

Something I have observed is that the person who is engaged in a lot of activities will seem on the outside very happy to be doing all of these things. They will extol the virtues of getting out and being social and possibly even ridicule the notion of spending time alone. This, to me, is the first indication that the person is avoiding self knowledge and what I mean by that is avoidance of feeling difficult emotions and what their motives might be for the activities. This can be further explored with the very social person, if you are interested, by asking them about their motives for doing activities like dancing, bar-hopping, classes, or yoga.

I’m not at all saying that social activities are bad or are for a fact a way of avoiding self knowledge. There are some ways to discover if that is the case by asking the person who is heavily engaged in social activities to spend some time alone and observe how they react to that situation. Is it possible for them to sit in silence or even meditate? Many who are asked this question will come right out and say that they don’t like to be alone because it makes them intensely uncomfortable.

People who’s main topic of discussion is their fantastic list of activities and no downtime is a clear indication that the person is not comfortable with the stream of consciousness flowing through their mind. When someone does not value their time alone or deep connections with the self and others it can be pretty striking how their subconscious will steer their behavior. It’s usually not enough for the person to have these activities but they also want others to validate or join them in their pursuit of emotional pain avoidance.

Another way that people can avoid intimacy is by never asking questions. Have you ever encountered someone who speaks using only assertions and never asking questions? Or do you ever hear when someone will tell stories but never check with you if you are following or even interested in the subject? That is another indicator that the person might be avoiding intimate relationships.

Physical intimacy like hugs or cuddling can be difficult for many of us. I’ve heard some people say that a possible cause for it is not being held very much as an infant. It would make sense that if there is a childhood trauma like a lack of physical intimacy with parents that a person later encountering situations where they are to be close with someone else will have a visceral reaction and disgust to it. That reaction is a triggering event emotionally where the person in an instant can have difficult feelings and also not even be aware of them because it’s so early and deep.

I know with myself I have felt very uncomfortable in the past with physical closeness and avoided it by fidgeting and trying to move away from my girlfriends in order to avoid the difficult feelings I was experiencing. It caused me later to think about what could be the cause of it and address it so I do not carry that pattern into future relationships. While I was experiencing a great degree of insecurity I know that would also be hard for my partner to witness.

It also doesn’t help when our partners take our problems with intimacy personally. Not only are we having an internal struggle but now we are in the position to have to process what is happening for them. I would imagine that it’s too overwhelming for people to get into what is occurring for them on the inside so avoidance patterns can be setup to mitigate the difficult feelings. I wonder how many times people will engage in activities like TV shows, Sports, and reading in order to avoid topics requiring intimacy.

That raises another thought in me which is the level of safety required and other factors which contribute to a person feeling able to be intimate. If we are aware that there is some avoidance of a topic like our health, or motives for choosing one action over another, what needs to be in place for us to consider discussing it? In my experience having a friend that is consistently honest and does not judge me but is rather curious about my experience makes me feel comfortable to explore with them. On my side I think it requires me to have some courage to explain my discomfort with important subjects. Judgments and moral factors are a big deterrent for a lot of people when discussing their important life decisions.

We have to know that the person we are speaking with is not going to offer an anachronistic script of emotional avoidance. There is no intimacy when someone is trying to offer us an easy solution or any solutions. For intimacy we cannot be afraid of attack and waiting for the other person to ridicule us or trivialize our challenges. Our friends and romantic partners, our closest allies, need to be able to have their own emotions in check in order to really hear us, to be with us, and connect with what is happening for us.

When you look at all of the activities that people do to numb our their emotions like gaming, drugs, clubs, and meetups it can be a startling picture to see at first. It can also shed some light on why many relationships don’t work out and why divorce rates are high. People are not connecting in a meaningful way which encourages intimacy. The norm is to block out any personal topics in a calculated dance of avoidance.

Some things which can be done to foster intimacy in a relationship are not offering any immediate feedback when someone is telling us something. It can be difficult if we have our own thoughts which contradict the other person’s but if you listen long enough they may be trying to work out those things with you if you let them. Another way to allow for intimacy in a relationship is to be honest about our thoughts and feelings right in the moment. So if we are feeling uncomfortable with a topic or on the other hand really enjoying it we can say so right then.

Connections created through intimacy are honest and have a real foundation which is literally the true expression of each person’s life and experiences. When people are willing to discuss any subject that is a good indication that they allow intimacy in their lives. It’s not that everyone deserves your intimacy, they don’t. But for those who earn the right to enter your inner world through their virtuous connection with their own emotion and yours it will be a life-changing relationship. I have experienced this myself that when I have this connection with someone we are both empowered and energized by it. There are tough times but we can work through our challenges and become a bolder person through love and security. Our honest self expression can be a uniting force allowing for growth and happiness.

Avoidance is the legacy of human past. Our entire society is setup through distractions involving entertainment so far in that the majority of people we meet are simply parroting whatever they heard in the actor’s and reporter’s lines. How could it be that people are more interested in the lives of fucking strangers than of their own life or the people around them? I refuse to allow people to drag me into their sticky net of vapid discourse. Due to my hard work in journaling and connecting emotionally I realize now there is a whole world of interesting and joyous connections I can make with friends through closeness.

Before I close this one out I wanted to briefly mention that children are suffering when the adults around them act out their lives by avoiding tough topics. It is literally a tragedy and a negligent way of living a life, if you could call it that, to deny children the opportunity to witness two adults negotiating for their needs and discussing what is most alive in them. When children are subjected to these kinds of homes, which is most homes, they will never observe the very loving and critical component of human life called intimacy.

Each and every one of us needs this healing intimacy and love as a human and thinking person. Life is viciously discarded without intimacy because the person cannot know themselves or others without it! That is how I was raised but not how I choose to continue. I will not deny the truth experience of those around me. I will not push people away because it is too hard or inconvenient. I choose to love. I choose intimacy.

Author Tony Crowe, Salt Lake City, UT
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