“Intimacy is based on shared vulnerability…Nothing deepens intimacy like the experiences we share when feel flayed, with our skins off, scared and vulnerable, and our partner is there with us, willing to share in the scary stuff.” ~Dossie Easton & Catherine Liszt
Ever had that dream where you leave the house naked? That’s the dream we all dread. It’s not feasible that you would wake up in the morning and simply forget to put clothes on–but the dream still terrifies most people.Advertising
The same can be said for those who struggle with making and maintaining intimate connections. Does the thought of allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable and letting someone see your bare naked soul terrify you? Do you find yourself going from one relationship to another, but you can never seem to find true love? If this is you, you may have intimacy issues.
Many people struggle with developing an intimate relationship with others for a variety of reasons such as:Advertising
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of being hurt
- Fear of exploitation
- Past experiences
- Inability to trust
- Traumatic childhood experiences
These are all legitimate intimacy blockers and valid fears. When we lower our guard and allow people to get close, there are consequences–good and bad.
True Intimacy Keeps People Bonded
Intimacy is a close personal connection between two people that is developed over time. Typically, we learn how to develop intimate relationships as children through our interactions with out parents and close family members. As we grow older, opportunities arise to develop other intimate relationships outside of the home. We learn to establish commitment and trust, and build connections through work, play, sex, and shared experiences. The journey towards creating intimate relationships is therefore potentially never ending and everyone’s experience in learning to be intimate is different.Advertising
The one constant and fundamental truth concerning intimacy is we all have a deep, innate need to have intimate relationships in our lives. Psychologist understand and have proven that relationships matter to our sense of well-being. Throughout life, we need relationships to help us feel connected, boost our feelings of self-worth, and sustain our moods.
The Truth about Letting your Guard Down
When determining how to lower your guard and trust people, there are a few things you must consider, understand and accept.The first of which is that intimacy involves risk. This is just a hard truth about intimate relationships. You could get hurt. But on the other hand you could enter into a relationship and experience love at its deepest level–the kind of love musicians sing about and laureate wax poetically about. You could find yourself in a deep meaningful relationship and experience the euphoria of being totally and completely loved and accepted exactly as you are–flaws and all. Consider the possibility of experiencing true, unbridled, intense and passionate love. As intimacy grows, the intensity of the love and passion grows as well. This happens over time.Advertising
Intimacy Takes Baby Steps
The next fact is that developing an intimate relationship takes time; intimacy is a gradual process. Take baby steps. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bare your soul and present your heart on a platter on a first date. You are begging for rejection. We all want to be loved and accepted but we must be considerate of the other person. Believe it or not, you are a lot to take in all at once. Throwing all that you are at a stranger or mild acquaintance, all at once isn’t fair to them. Divulge your true self in small doses. Get to know them as you allow them to get to know you. Evaluate their response and then proceed a little further. As you see them begin to open up, you do the same. Mirror their level of intimacy until you are comfortable and it feels safe to share a bit more of yourself.
Mirror Your Expectations
As you begin to gradually open up and connect to the other person, you will have the urge to pull back. During these times it is critical that you remember that you have to give in order to receive. If you want acceptance you have to give it. If you want trust you must first be trustworthy. If you want someone to open up and expose themselves to you, you must do the same. You have to model the behavior you are expecting. Ask questions and genuinely become interested in who your partner (or potential partner) is without judgement. Intimacy occurs when both people share and are transparent and honest with each other. The relationship is not truly intimate if only one person is open.
Learn to Express Yourself
Lastly, understand that as intimacy builds shutting down and refusing to share can quickly kill the intimacy. Learn how to express yourself. Expressing our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and traumas is difficult. Talking is only one mode of communication. Write out your dreams, journal your feelings and fears and then, let your significant other read it. Illustrate your feelings in a painting or drawing and use that as a catalyst for conversation. Find songs that evoke deep emotion or remind you of an experience you had and allow your special someone to hear it and then explain why it is so meaningful to you. There are so many avenues to generate conversation and get naked emotionally–use whatever vehicle that best suits you. Find a way to be open.
A Wise Word on Intimacy
Intimacy is cleverly described by some in the faith community as “In-to-me-see.” When you refuse to allow yourself to be truly seen, you are preventing yourself the emotional sustenance you need to be your best and most complete self. Intimacy is risky but the love and connection that results is definitely worth the risk.
Last Updated on June 24, 2019
Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression
A study  published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.
Social Media Could Lead to Depression
Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression worse explains the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.
Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”
If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:
• low self-esteem,
• negative self-talk,
• a low mood,
• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,
• and social withdrawal.
If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.
Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem
We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D., social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.
Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions
Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.
Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.
Why We Need to Take This Seriously
Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.
Advice on Social Media Use
Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression, they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.
One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.
Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.
Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media
If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology:
Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.
Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.
Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.
Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.
The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.
|||^||NCBI: Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults|
|||^||ConsumerHealthDigest: Having Multiple Social Media Accounts Tied to Depression|
|||^||ConsumerHealthDigest: Depression Symptoms – Can Depression Lead to Suicide?|
|||^||Health: The Complex Link Between Social Media and Depression|
|||^||NCBI: Online Social Networking and Mental Health|
|||^||NCBI: Online Social Networking and Mental Health|
|||^||ConsumerHealthDigest: Bad Experiences on Facebook Tied to Depression|
|||^||Links Psychology: How do I keep my social media use healthy?|