Are you aware of that powerful inner drive to create both closeness and distance from others? This is one of the most compelling and disturbing dilemmas for us humans, for both experiences bring satisfaction and frustration.
Friendships and intimate relationships are the most fertile ground for this struggle to take root and grow. And for most of us, it is a struggle indeed – even when we’re very clear what the inner tug-of-war is all about.
To make it worse, most of us, at some point in time, claim one of these two experiences as descriptions of who we are – either a relationship person or a loner/recluse. It then becomes our identity in the world of relationships.
As this is one of the most consistent life dilemmas, you have undoubtedly found yourself drawn to people who appear to be your opposite. Whether you want intimacy or distance, they undoubtedly want what you may perceive as the antagonistic opposite.
This scenario sets the stage for the ensuing “relationship issues” that usually take the shape of a power struggle over who is going to win out and create either the closeness or the distance.
This dilemma plays itself out every day, with each person’s need for being close or being distant at the center of most of the struggles and disagreements.
This is called polarity blindness: a situation where you actually cannot see the function, purpose, or value of the opposite pole. You simply take a stand against it and label it as the problem.
The reality here is that each of us needs both closeness and distance. They are fundamental needs that, when filled, allow the desired state of true intimacy to arise. Most of us mistakenly choose closeness as evidence of intimacy and distance as evidence of a fear of intimacy. This blinds us to seeing what is actually happening and we end up struggling for more power so we can influence the situation, make it different, and finally get what we believe we need.
Managing The Dilemma
To manage this specific dilemma that permeates our lives, I invite you to investigate your own experience to discover how closeness actually changes into a desire for distance and how distance actually changes into a desire for closeness. There is a pattern here, a dance of desire to come together and to move apart.
When you begin to feel suffocated or irritated by your partner, is it in fact your own system telling you that it is time for some distance? When you begin to feel lonely and out of touch and isolated, is it in fact your own Being telling you that it is time to reach out and connect with an other?
Because closeness and distance define each other, you cannot have one without the other. They are an interdependent polar pair. Together, they create the two sides of the coin we call intimacy. Understanding this calls forth a practical wisdom that dictates marriage and divorce many times in a single day – a coming together and moving apart again and again and again.
With this rhythm clearly in place, you can manage this dynamic shifting of needs in relationship with more clarity and confidence. Investigate for yourself and discover how closeness and distance are in fact, an organic unity that offers us the opportunity to drink of true intimacy with ourselves and others.