Why intimacy isn’t scary anymore

I’ll shut up about my relationship status sometime soon. But, not today.

A month ago I was catching up with my friend Jen*, and telling her I was feeling pretty certain about proposing to Nicole. She was freaked out by that. Well okay, maybe that’s fair — I only started dating her in February.

*Jen is my placeholder name for any girl in these posts.

Jen went on to explain that the notion of marriage terrifies her altogether. She says she doesn’t know herself well enough to go anywhere near that, doesn’t know what she wants, is afraid of intimacy, commitment, being tied down, yada yada. The usual stuff.

It is the usual stuff, after all, and I can’t blame the girl. But, I was surprised to notice that I didn’t feel any of these misgivings. I did once, I’m sure, but they are long gone. Something changed in the last few years.

So the question is: what changed?


Let’s back up: intimacy is scary why?

There are a lot of reasons I’m sure. One good reason is that there’s a selfish nasty animal inside of you, and another inside of me, and frankly who wants to deal with that? What I mean is, old wounds, neuroses, phobias, insecurities, selfishness, apathy, greed, etc. Got it? I don’t want to sift through your crap. I hardly want to wade through my own. So why would I want to join hands with you and march toward our mutual doom? Right? Like I said, there are other reasons people avoid intimacy, but this one is the most fun.

When we don’t deal with our shit, it bubbles up in awful ways, at terrible times — e.g. in the middle of a relationship, where you’ll devastate somebody else. But, on the bright side, there are other ways to get to the bottom of your cesspool besides a relationship.


The way that I began my dig toward bottom was to go on the World Race. Don’t close this tab yet! — this blog is not a Race advertisement. The Race is just Exhibit A.

I’m not going to tell you what the Race is, but I’ll tell you what happened. See, it was the best and hardest thing I ever did. The Race messed me up, it made me bleed and ache and hurt and limp in ways I never knew. I was the least pleasant person that I can ever remember being, while I was on the World Race. My shit hit the fan in a bunch of ways.

But then I came home, and reassembled for a while, like the way your brain solders together your memories while you sleep. And when I woke up, I realized I had gotten a lot of crap out of my system, while I was out there. And more important than that, I got to know my ugly parts real well while I was out there. And that right there is the key, more than anything.

I am not fixed. I am jankety-ass broke. The point is now I know it, and the question is settled.


Now, let’s bring it around. Earlier I laid out why a lot of people fear intimacy. I wondered why I don’t share that fear. The reason I don’t share that fear is because I have already met the ugly parts of me, and I shook hands with them.

Quite conveniently, Nicole did the Race too, a bit after me. She sorted through her toxic waste as well. She knows she’s a mess now too, just like me. And it’s interesting when two people meet that have both been pre-broken already. As my friend George said, “It kind of lets you skip some steps”.

Most people have to spend a long time together to test how awful the other really is. Nicole and I, thankfully, have already been to the bottom of our own respective abysses, and we looked ourselves in the face down there. We don’t need years to discover that we are awful irritating human beings — we already know it. We know that about each other. Thus, we get to skip some steps. Advance five spaces, collect $200 etc.

Please hear me here: I’m not saying I’m done growing, maturing, or healing. But the idea is that the Race has accomplished in one year what might have taken 5 years in another life. Moreover, it taught me that I am limping, and will forever limp, and that’s okay.


Let’s conclude with a happy little extended metaphor:

Everybody has skeletons in the basement. Most people don’t go down there. Most people are also afraid of intimacy, because to really get it you have to let the other see the basement. Yikes.

A good way to let some light into the basement is something like the Race — that is, something so wild and powerful and difficult that your house gets blown down and you have to take shelter in the basement. Once you survive that, suddenly it ain’t so difficult to invite someone else to take a look. Voila.

So … who else has been down there? What was it like? Leave your comments below. Or, if you want to disagree, that’s welcome too.

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  1. well, ian, i feel a big gypped. you allege that you were the least pleasant person on the race, but i found you delightful enough to befriend you. so i must conclude i’m now missing out on this more pleasant ian post-race. you must remedy this, sir!


  2. yup..its official..truth speaks and revelation occurs. and without a word being spoken life happens. keep living bro..proud of ya!


  3. you had me at “jankety-ass broke” hahaha! This blog is a keeper…found it right after the Hot Girl Myth. Ian, I’m loving your insight and the way you communicate your heart and insight. Super excited for you and Nicole–I just got engaged to an incredible man last week too! Excited for all of this intimacy stuff, though it’s not easy! Bless you!


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