I have long believed that “the
three R’s” – reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic – which we
supposedly learned in the schools, were never really enough to get
along in life.
One ‘R’ seemed to be missing –
Let’s face it, we simply are not
trained to effectively negotiate our relationships.
By and large, what we do learn is
usually achieved through various experiences with others.
Such experiences are frequently
the result of trial and error, of fumbling around in the dark.
Often, we come to develop certain
convictions on the basis of very limited data.
A cynic might even argue that our
belief systems become shape and fixed by one-trial learning, that
is, by a single event.
This may, especially, be true in
terms of how we view the best way of getting our needs met for love,
understanding and challenge from others.
I have heard people say that they
desire close relationships but “fear being rejected.”
When inquiring into the history
of their fear, I often find that one, or more, important
relationship(s) did not work out.
There may, indeed, have been a
“rejection” or, more generally, some trauma or other emotional
distress associated with the relationship.
Consequently, from that point on,
an inappropriate, generalization occurs which result in the
‘traumatized’ person fearing getting too close to another.
He or she might get hurt or
rejected or ‘burned.’
Thus, intimacy – which in my
opinion is perhaps the most crucial task (and joy) in life – fails
Our relationships are hollow. Our
physical, intellectual and emotional needs are only minimally met.
Now there is another perspective,
which may really help to point the way out of marginally gratifying
The psychological fact-of-the-matter
is that nothing lasts forever.
What we have, own, possess or achieve
is really only a temporary loan, or gift, in the broader sense of our
What this means practically is that
the people we care about may not be around when we need or want them to
They may not be available. They may
move to another location.
They may develop different interests
from our own.
They may change their feelings toward
They may die.
The risk involved is to become
vulnerable enough to allow yourself to accept the experience of the
agony, along with the ecstasy, of all of your relationships.
What this means, simply, is to make
the most of what you’ve got without running scared.
To paint the picture in different
words, it is my contention that the reason we so often fail to develop
intimate relationships is not because we fear rejection, but rather
because we fear intimacy and the potential loss of it!
We delude ourselves in believing that
our running scared protects us from getting burned.
In reality, it prevents us from being
loved, understood and challenged.
And in reality, it prevents us from
ever achieving and experiencing true intimacy!
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