Why do you need both closeness and distance in relationship? Whether it’s a personal or professional connection, everything will flow much more easily when you not only understand this but also behave in a way that demonstrates it.
As a leader, you want those who follow your lead to feel connected to your vision. But it’s also important that they feel connected to you. On the other hand, you also want some distance so you can maintain your connection to yourself as not only a leader, but a person with a life beyond leadership.
Two Powerful Drives Lead The Way
Like it or not, as a human being you are subject to the whims of these two powerful inner drives.
- One drive demands that you move closer to others in order to feel connected and taste the riches of sharing and intimacy
- The other drive demands that you create distance between yourself and others in order to retain your sense of individuality, separateness, and uniqueness
This is one of the most compelling and disturbing dilemmas you probably experience every day. It’s compelling because the need for both is so strong. It’s disturbing because 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, it is a struggle indeed – even when you’re very clear what this inner tug-of-war is all about.
To make it worse, at some point in time you’ve probably claimed one of these two experiences as a description of who you are – either a relationship person or a loner/recluse. It then becomes your assumed identity in the world of relationships, whether in your awareness or outside of it.
Drawn To Your Opposing Desire?
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 annoying, if not the antagonistic opposite.
This scenario sets the stage for the arrival of “relationship issues”. Without awareness of the need to balance closeness and distance in relationship, frustration can easily take the shape of a power struggle. What are you struggling for? To determine who is going to win once and for all and declare either closeness or distance as the main relationship dynamic.
This particular power struggle plays out every day, even though most folks don’t feel comfortable calling it a power struggle. It’s usually perceived as the other person being difficult, in some way or another, At the center of so many common struggles and disagreements are each person’s need for the relationship to be based on either being close or being distant.
You can call this polarity blindness: a situation where you actually cannot see the function, purpose, or value of the other person’s need. You simply take a stand against it and label it as the problem.
Fundamental Needs Can’t Be Ignored
The reality here is that each of you needs both closeness and distance. They are fundamental needs that, when filled, lay the foundation for 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 means you’re actually blind to what is actually happening. Then you end up struggling to be right. When you’re right, you’ve gained power. And that’s when you feel you can influence the situation, make it different, and finally get what you believe you need. However, as your own experience probably verifies, this rarely solves anything long term.
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, out of touch, and isolated, is it in fact your own Being telling you that it is time to reach out and connect with another?
Managing The Dilemma Of Being Alone & Together
To manage this specific dilemma that permeates everyone’s life, I invite you to investigate your own experience. Discover how closeness actually changes into a desire for distance. Then watch how distance actually changes into a desire for closeness. There is a pattern here. There is a dance here. The desire to come together and the desire to move apart have partnered up. This means they’re now moving in a rhythm all their own.
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 pearl of practical wisdom. This wisdom dictates marrying and divorcing many times in a single day. It means coming together and moving apart again and again and again. This opens the door to yet another dilemma illustrating the same dynamic. The required movement between feeling separated and connected is another fundamental essential to happy and productive relating.
With this rhythm clearly in your awareness, you can manage this dynamic shifting of needs in a relationship with more clarity and confidence. Investigate for yourself. Discover how closeness and distance are in fact, an organic unity. This realization offers you the opportunity to drink of true intimacy with yourself and others.