Ask anyone who has just entered or re-entered the world of dating and  you will hear about how difficult it can be to maneuver around conversation with someone we’ve just met.  When getting to know someone, it can be awkward to dance the new dance of “talk.”  What questions do we ask?  What questions do we answer?  How much do we share?  We probably all remember a conversation in which we struggled.  On the other hand, we may be fortunate to remember a conversation which provided a sense of connection – one that was easy and carefree – almost effortless.  The exchanges that flow freely and comfortably are surrounded by an almost palpable energy level.  Be it in friendship or dating…these types of connections are not very common and yet profoundly moving.  They begin to satisfy the hunger in our hearts to know and be known.

Sometimes, however, we may miss the mark on these types of connections.  It is as if we almost arive to the point of connection, but something is standing the way.  It can be incredibly frustrating and saddening on many levels.  Often times what stands in the way of a real personal connection is a fear of sorts – a fear of being known too well.  If someone gets too close, and learns about the ‘real’ me, then I become incredibly vulnerable.  Revealing too much of myself can be frightening.  If I am too open, then I am too vulnerable – I risk being hurt.

It is often times the fear of being hurt that stands in the way of building deep intimacy.  As long as I hold back information about the real me, then you cannot get too close.  If I withhold, then I control how close I let anyone get to my heart and how vulnerable I will allow myself to become.  If I keep part of me shut away from you, then I will minimize the impact of any hurt that you may bring my way.  This shielding posture is certain to stand in the way of building a real and intimate relationship. 

For example, I see this shallowness in intimacy existing everyday in couples who come to my office for marriage counseling.  For whatever the reason, one (or both) withhold part of themselves in attempts to minimize the sense of fear – their vulnerability.  But the cost to holding back is great.  For when we hold back, we will neverexperience the honest and deep possibilities that come with a genuine exchange.   Real intimacy will never be achieved until we understand the importance of sharing ourselves on a deep and honest level.

So what do we do?  If we desire to be loved unconditionally and to share in a profound relationship, how do we get past this sense of fear?  First, let’s take a personal inventory.  What is standing in the way of you opening your heart to someone else?  Are you aware of your fears?  Where do they come from and how are you posturing yourself in such a way that you never commit to moving deeper into a relationship?  Do you know how to work through the fears that are standing in your way of commitment and deep relationship? 

We all have fear to some level.  It is time to be honest about what those fears may be.  It is time to figure out where they come from and to accept how they are getting in the way of true happiness.  For you see we are designed to be in relationships and (whether you are consciously aware of it or not) you need to know how to do relationships well and completely!  Are you ready to invest yourself?