The Intimacy Trap: Attraction or Distraction?

In photography, as with everything, I like to get really close.

The Intimacy Trap

Don’t get me wrong, intimacy is one of the nicest things in the world. Whether it’s the intimacy that comes from connecting with a friend, the intimacy that comes from studying something deeply with a teacher, or the intimacy of a partner relationship, sharing is a beautiful thing.

But all war starts over the desire for nice things. It is not intimacy per se, but the attachment to it that makes us suffer.

This Came Up in Inquiry Circle Recently

For whatever reason, there have been fewer people active in Inquiry Circle for the past few months and it started to feel a little empty. I watched my own thoughts about this and then heard more from others. 

One of the thoughts that came up was a desire for an intimate group of people doing The Work together. A desire for people who show up regularly to share vulnerably together. In fact, that is what happens in Inquiry Circle, but it’s been less full recently.

When fewer people were participating, it gave the feeling that others don’t care, thus interrupting the feeling of connection and intimacy.

But Why Are We Actually Here?

When I look at my years of doing The Work, I can see that I used to have a strong desire for intimacy in doing The Work with others. It was a reason for doing The Work for me. After all, what a perfect setup for it! Sharing my stressful thoughts with another person who listens and shares is a formula for closeness. 

I think some of my early motivation in doing The Work was to connect with people in that way. I was attracted to the intimacy. But over time, that has changed. Though I enjoy connecting with others, I don’t crave it anymore. And I don’t hold it as a kind of highest good. 

Instead, the real reason I do The Work is to become more intimate with myself. I don’t care that much if someone else witnesses my work and connects with me when I go inward. And I don’t care so much about being close to another person as they do their work. I actually do find myself close when I join them, but I don’t care so much. This is really freeing.

Inquiry Circle Is a Mediation Hall

Inquiry Circle is primarily a place for each of us to dive inwardly to find greater closeness with ourselves. It is simply a place for us to do The Work online together. In that way, it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t join me. 

But if intimacy is the primary purpose of the group, then my happiness depends on others being present and attentive. 

The question is, why am I showing up? To connect with others? Or to connect with myself? This makes all the difference. When my only purpose is to connect with myself, I am happy to be the only person in Inquiry Circle. And ironically when I do connect with myself, I automatically feel more connected with everyone else, regardless of how they show up.

How About You?

Why do you do The Work? Is it for intimacy or for self-awareness? Maybe it’s both. Both are good. I’m curious to see how your experience changes over time.

And who would you be if you didn’t crave intimacy in friendships, relationships, and groups of all kinds? Does the desire for intimacy bring you peace or stress? Each situation is different. Take a look.

Want to Join Inquiry Circle?

If your heart is into simply doing The Work on an ongoing basis, Inquiry Circle could be a match for you. The prerequisite for joining Inquiry Circle is to take The Work 101. I’d love to meet you there (and I won’t mind if you don’t). 

Learn more about The Work 101, my in-depth online training in The Work.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Eventually, every Band-Aid stops working, and our painful thoughts ooze out. Only the truth can set us free, only the truth can stop the pain, and only with the truth can we be truly intimate.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

Further reading: Turning Around my Approach to Friendships

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.