The other day, I ran into a woman I went out with once. We were friends for years. It’s been about a decade since I saw her last. And as I walked away, I was thinking, I hope I had good reasons for not pursuing her. I hope I wasn’t just a scaredy cat, that because she was available and interested, I got scared. I remember a lot of dancing around on my part about whether or not she would date. I would flirt and withdraw. Once at shul, I was opening my wallet to pay for an event, and a condom fell out. “Oh no,” she said. “We can’t take this.”
I hate facing loss. When I see how I’ve wasted my life, it’s almost unbearable. I want to distract myself.
Robert Weiss says: “An intimacy disorder is the inability to find, tolerate, or stay in relationships that involve the risks that come with being fully known. Having such problems denies our most basic human need to deeply bond with others. Humans are meant to be social. From the very first moment we’re paired with mom, and throughout our life span we seek various pairings or social groups to fit in or belong—it’s an essential part of being alive. Even from the beginning, to achieve health, children need connection, not only for nourishment and protection, but so they know what it’s like to have intense engagement with an interested person. It’s part of the human condition to enter into deep social and intimate relationships; we are not meant to be isolated creatures, and those of us who spend a lot of time alone tend to be the most troubled people in our culture. The challenge for most of the people I work with is that while these men and women are quite intellectually intact or even very gifted, and some of them even able to build a strong career and are interesting, engaging people, they are unable to choose, grow, and maintain healthy relationships, especially intimate ones. This is a major problem because we all need healthy relationships for our survival—it is that important. We do not do well alone.”
* “So there no problem I want to solve right now, no one particular situation, no task,” I say to my therapist last night and she starts smiling and segues into giggles. “I had a girlfriend who got panic attacks at the thought of stepping into a hospital or court room. I’ve never been like that. I’ve never been disabled by emotion and unable to do the tasks in front of me.”