“We are all, in a sense, experts on secrecy. From earliest childhood we feel its mystery and attraction. We know both the power it confers and the burden it imposes. We learn how it can delight, give breathing space and protect.” –Sissela Bok

People don’t do friendships well. We don’t lend ourselves well to making friends (or have no idea of what making/being a friend is) and thus call people who should be acquaintances “friends” or BFFs, though they are as disposable as an unfriending on MySpace.

Part of the problem is out inability to handle intimacy well. When we ask ourselves why do we insist on continuing to date after so many heart wrenching, near life-destroying, pain-inducing, love experiences (and then remain hopeful that the next dating experience will be different)? our answer boils down to one word: intimacy.

We know that intimacy can be abused, but some people start off with a fear of intimacy. The idea of becoming close to another human being causes us to (mentally or emotionally, if not physically) flinch. T o run away. To not give people a chance. To let someone in, to care about them and let them care about you can only lead to two things: 1) the laying down of roots as you invest in a relationship and 2) the possibility of future loss, because at best all relationships are til death do we part.

This lack of intimacy can sometimes be the result of self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of your experiences in the past, you’ve become reluctant to meet/let new people in. Not entirely unreasonably, your instinct tells you that they will be like the rest: they will get to know the real you, not like you, judge you, or otherwise abandon you and rather than wait for them to do so, you push and push and push new people until they finally have had enough and move on; then you pat yourself on your back for being right in not trusting them. In effect, you reject them before they can reject you and thus intimacy never occurs.

Some people can go through life as lone rangers, rootless in their life and relationships. However, I basically think that this points to the lie, or at least to the end, of American-styled individualism. That whole “I am an island”, “I don’t need anyone”, “you can only depend on yourself” ethos that eventually runs its course. Just like systematic theology can’t answer some ultimate/basic questions about faith, and when we come to the end of its usefulness and move on; in life, experience often teaches us that there are limits to what our own bootstraps can carry us through.

Yes, in the end, people will fail you. Despite our best intentions, sometimes even for the noblest of reasons, folks will let you down. That’s no reason to never let them in. Life is full of regrets. You, too, will fail others, but I’m sure that failure doesn’t define you, nor your relationships, and you’d like the chance to be forgiven and try again.

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