Your Life Through the Lens of the Need for Intimacy

Girl looking in mirror, considering the need for intimacy

God created you with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy. What have you done with that need for intimacy? Looking at your life through this lens explains more than you may realize.

Does your mind immediately go to “sex” with you think “intimacy?” Stop right there. That’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re addressing the way in which God created within you the desire to experience connection and oneness as He experiences it within Himself and that He desires to have with us. Being fully seen and known.

Evil has hijacked this aspect of our souls in ways perhaps more damaging than any other human dimension. You’ve been hurt here, and you’ve undoubtedly hurt others here knowingly and/or unknowingly. But that desire and need remains.

Imagine telling the story of your need for intimacy and the good, bad, and perhaps even ugly about what your experience in this regard has been. It might be uncomfortable, and yet it will be enlightening. How would you label the various chapters of this story?

What You Learned

As Dr. Curt Thompson says, every baby comes into the world looking for someone looking for them. How were you received when you were born? Of course you don’t remember facts from that time, but your soul embraced messages that have stayed with you. Am I wanted? Am I desirable? Can I count on the world to provide safety and care? Is someone coming for me? What do I have to do in order to get what I need?

Fancy psychological labels have been created to describe these formative experiences, such as attachment style, stages of development, etc. But you don’t have to understand all that to reflect on what you learned before you knew you were learning anything.

Those formative experiences continue as you grow up. Here are just a few of the messages that may be part of this early chapter of your intimacy story:

  • I’m too much. I’m too needy, and the only way I can connect is to ignore, deny, cover up the parts of me that are unacceptable. I must pretend to be someone else.
  • I have power. Using my power I can exploit and manipulate the world around me, including people, to get what I need and want.
  • It’s no use. Regardless of what I do I will never be cared for, seen, or understood. It’s easier to just hide and learn to exist half-alive.
  • Repair is possible. While the world is not always as safe as it should be, I and others can address broken parts of our relationship to build something that is good and life-giving.

If your life feels confusing, take time to consider what underlying assumptions you came to believe early on around relationships, people, and your need for intimacy.

Getting Hurt and Hurting Others

Every single one of us has been hurt when it comes to intimacy. What has that looked like for you?

It might have been parents who didn’t understand you so you didn’t feel seen or known. You might have experienced trauma as a child or adolescent such as bullying, abuse, molestation, exposure to porn, etc. You might have been objectified or shamed in response to your attempts to connect with others.

Sex certainly becomes an issue here. But don’t think of sexual harm as primarily physical acts done to you, although that may be especially devastating. Consider also the assaults on your heart, your sense of safety, your ability to experience being seen and known and connect with others. Part of that assault may include coming to believe intimacy is dangerous, or impossible.

And you’ve also harmed others and yourself in response. Remember, you didn’t wake up one day and decide to cause harm. But you did. You belittled or bullied others in trying to cover up your own sense of inferiority. You shut yourself off from others out of fear. Or you became angry or prickly to keep others from getting too close.

And sex? You’ve caused harm to yourself and others there too. You got addicted to porn. You’ve been less than the intimate partner your spouse needs. You’ve become self-righteous because you’ve kept within the sexual “lines” while refusing to address the deeper matters in your own heart. You may have acted out sexually with multiple partners or exploited others sexually. And maybe you’ve experienced some of the fallout such as abortion, STDs, betrayal, or broken marriages.

You did not intentionally choose to respond badly to being hurt in the area of intimacy. The unfulfilled need for intimacy keeps driving you and you wonder, How did I get here?

Where is God in All This

Your story does not surprise God. But the solution He offers is not some superficial intellectual belief in a set of “truths.” His solution is walking with you deeply into the places in your heart that carry the lies you’ve believed, the wounds you’ve accumulated, and the empty places that are still unfilled.

In fact, the whole plan of redemption, the entire way God deals with human beings, is a love story. He designed our need for intimacy to drive us to Him, not in some sappy emotionalism, but in a deeply transformative process of becoming who we were originally created to be.

It would be worth some time and mental effort to consider your story around intimacy. How have you been seen and known? How have you been harmed in your attempts to be seen and known? And how have you responded to what you’ve experienced?

And then invite Jesus to be with you. Take the risk of letting Him truly see and know you. When He is with you things change. You can come to replace lies with truth, not only truth you know with your left brain but truth you experience with your right brain. Your wounds can be healed and your empty places filled.

That’s how to deal with your need for intimacy.

Your Turn: What has been your story around your need for intimacy? Have you invited Jesus into your story to be with you?  Leave a comment below.

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Married and Feeling Disconnected?

You said “I do” expecting lasting love, connection, intimacy, and joy. But you may now be feeling more loneliness, frustration, or anger. What happened to “happily ever after?”

In one important sense it’s not your fault. Nobody ever taught you how to do marriage, intimacy, sex, and relationships well. Our Fully Alive Marriage online course shows you how to overcome marriage challenges, learn to love well, and build an intimate and Fully Alive marriage that lasts!