“Our souls crave intimacy“—Erwin Raphael McManus. I believe that is true. We are a relational species and the majority of our activities can be traced back to managing or creating relationships. Even in our work. If we are a service provider we are looking at ways to connect to sell our services and we understand that it is critical to continue to engage in order to maintain the relationship so we can sell more services. If we are selling widgets, we can best do that by discovering the values and beliefs of our customers. Simon Sinek, in his TED Talk video, Start with Why, helps us understand that the ‘what and how’ of our products and services is not as powerful as the ‘why’ – actually connecting ‘intimately’ with the buyer.
The word intimacy itself brings up different emotions in each of us. Definitions of intimacy vary depending on the source but use similar terms including: a close association with, a deep understanding of, a familiar and affectionate relationship, a connection with. Tim Wilkens, in his blog Uncommon Sense, defines a relationship continuum as
He defines an adversary relationship as less happy, less effective and less productive than participants would be without the relationship. The neutral relationship is equally happy, effective and productive whether or not the relationship exists and synergy defines relationships that cause people to be more happy, effective and productive with the relationship, than without it. Levels of intimacy would naturally overlay that relationship continuum, with a lack of or no intimacy in adversity, no need for intimacy in neutrality, and a desire for intimacy in relationships that ensure we are happier, more effective and allow us to produce more.
Dirty Girls Consulting is passionate about supporting women (and men) when life is messy. Our experience is that life gets messy in our intimate relationships. At first we could limit using the term ‘intimate’ when describing our spouses and lovers. We might expand that to our close familial relationships and perhaps even to our closest friends. As we begin our series of blogs on intimacy, I want you to think more broadly about intimacy. If intimacy is really about depth of relationship, understanding and connection, we experience that in both our personal and business relationships. We all agree that ‘people buy from people’ and that the best references are referrals. We also know that if a connection is not made early on in any business interaction, that the impact can be ‘fatal’ either in the short or long term of that business relationship. This is certainly different than the intimacy you experience as you interact with your lover, but the underlying uncertainties and responses we experience are interestingly similar.
Intimacy requires us to be vulnerable and open – willing to risk without expectation or control over the response. We can tell someone we love them but can’t control if they will love us too. We can bare our souls but have no control over the empathy or judgement we will face. We can take the time to embrace the client or customer with no guarantee that there will be acknowledgement or validation. For those things in life we cannot control, we cannot predict the outcome. Therefore we may fear.
Wikipedia – in all of its wisdom – defines the Fear of Intimacy having three defining features:
In essence what this source is saying is that the fear that can ‘show up’ when moving towards an initimate relationhip has three distinct components:
- Do we have the words (content) and can we articulate what we really want to share?
- How do we feel about sharing this type of information?…which is impacted by our previous experiences in sharing personal information, as well as how we have observed responses as others have shared similar information.
- How vulnerable are we feeling about sharing this information with the specific person in this relationship?
As we explore intimacy over the next few months, we will talk about it in ways that will be familiar, as well as not so familiar. Our hope is to tap into the places where you feel deeply intimate and understand why that exists. We hope to explore the areas where intimacy is a struggle, and perhaps even where our fears keep us from being intimate. What is it we can understand about ourselves that will help us pull from what is working to enlighten us on where our biggest struggles can be?
Dirty Girls believes that we can’t separate who we are and how we experience life personally from how we show up at work and in relationships outside our friends and family. This includes how we experience intimacy in our lives.
Dirty Girls Consulting: When life gets messy.