Everybody Is Afraid of Intimacy – Why?

Everybody Is Afraid of Intimacy

Of my many fears, the one of which I am most aware is that of intimacy. I am like a hit-and-run driver in my relationships with people. Could you speak to me of my fear of intimacy?

“Everybody is afraid of intimacy. It is another thing whether you are aware of it or not. Intimacy means exposing yourself before a stranger. We are all strangers – nobody knows anybody. We are even strangers to ourselves because we don’t know who we are. Intimacy brings you close to a stranger.

You have to drop all your defenses; only then is intimacy possible. And the fear is that if you drop all your defenses, all your masks, who knows what the stranger is going to do with you?

“We are all hiding a thousand and one things – not only from others but from ourselves – because we have been brought up by a sick humanity with all kinds of repressions, inhibitions, taboos. The fear is that with somebody who is a stranger – and it does not matter, you may have lived with the person for thirty years, forty years; the strangeness never disappears – it feels safer to keep a little defense, a little distance, because somebody can take advantage of your weaknesses, of your frailties, of your vulnerability. Everybody is afraid of intimacy.

“The problem becomes more complicated because everybody wants intimacy. Everybody wants intimacy because otherwise you are alone in this universe – without a friend, without a lover, without anybody you can trust, without anybody to whom you can open all your wounds.

And the wounds cannot heal unless they are open. The more you hide them, the more dangerous they become. They can become cancerous.

“Intimacy is an essential need on the one hand, so everybody longs for it. But he wants the other person to be intimate, so that the other person drops his defenses, becomes vulnerable, opens all his wounds, drops all his masks and false personality, stands naked as he is. And on the other hand, everybody is afraid of intimacy – with the other person you want to be intimate with, you are not dropping your defenses.

“This is one of the conflicts between friends, between lovers: nobody wants to drop his defenses and nobody wants to come in utter nudity and sincerity, open – and both need intimacy.

Unless you drop all your repressions, inhibitions – which are the gifts of your religions, your cultures, your societies, your parents, your education – you will never be able to be intimate with someone. And you will have to take the initiative.

“But if you don’t have any repressions, any inhibitions, you don’t have any wounds either.

“If you have lived a simple, natural life, there will be no fear of intimacy, but tremendous joy – of two flames coming so close that they become almost one flame.

“The meeting is tremendously gratifying, satisfying, fulfilling. But before you can attempt intimacy, you have to clean your house completely.

Only a man of meditation can allow intimacy to happen. He has nothing to hide. All that he was afraid somebody might come to know, he himself has dropped it. He has only a silence and a loving heart.

“You have to accept yourself in your totality – if you cannot accept yourself in your totality, how can you expect somebody else to accept you? And you have been condemned by everybody, and you have learned only one thing: self-condemnation.

“You go on hiding it. It is not something beautiful to show to others, you know ugly things are hidden in you; you know evil things are hidden in you; you know animality is hidden in you. Unless you transform your attitude and accept yourself as one of the animals in existence… The word animal is not bad. It simply means alive; it comes from anima. Whoever is alive is an animal.

“But man has been taught, ‘You are not animals, animals are far below you. You are human beings.’ You have been given a false superiority. The truth is, existence does not believe in the superior and the inferior.

To existence, everything is equal – the trees, the birds, the animals, the human beings. In existence, everything is absolutely accepted as it is; there is no condemnation.

“If you accept your sexuality without any conditions, if you accept that man and every being in the world is fragile… Life is a very thin thread which can break down any moment. Once this is accepted, and you drop false egos – of being Alexander the Great, Mohammed Ali the thrice great – if you simply understand that everybody is beautiful in his ordinariness and everybody has weaknesses… They are part of human nature because you are not made of steel.

“You are made of a very fragile body. The span of your life is between the temperatures of ninety-eight degrees and one hundred and ten degrees: just twelve degrees of temperature is your whole span of life. Fall below it, and you are dead; go beyond it and you are dead. And the same applies to a thousand and one things in you.

“One of your most basic needs is to be needed. But nobody wants to accept that ‘It is my basic need to be needed, to be loved, to be accepted.’

We are living in such pretensions, such hypocrisies – that is the reason why intimacy creates fear. You are not what you appear to be. Your appearance is false.

“You may appear to be a saint, but deep down you are still a weak human being with all the desires and all the longings.

“The first step is to accept yourself in your totality, in spite of all your traditions, which have driven the whole of humanity insane. Once you have accepted yourself as you are, the fear of intimacy will disappear. You cannot lose respect, you cannot lose your greatness, you cannot lose your ego. You cannot lose your piousness, you cannot lose your saintliness – you have dropped all that yourself. You are just like a small child, utterly innocent. You can open yourself, because inside you are not filled with ugly repressions which have become perversions.

“You can say everything that you feel authentically and sincerely. And if you are ready to be intimate, you will encourage the other person to also be intimate. Your openness will help the other person also to be open to you. Your unpretentious simplicity will allow the other also to enjoy simplicity, innocence, trust, love, openness.

“You are encaged within stupid concepts, and the fear is if you become very intimate with somebody, he will become aware of it. But we are fragile beings – the most fragile in the whole existence. The human child is the most fragile child of all the animals. The children of other animals can survive without a mother, without a father, without a family. But the human child will die immediately.

So this frailty is not something to be condemned, it is the highest expression of consciousness. A roseflower is going to be fragile; it is not a stone.

“And there is no need to feel bad about it, that you are a roseflower and not a stone.

“Only when two persons become intimate are they no longer strangers. And it is a beautiful experience to find that not only you are full of weaknesses but the other, too. Perhaps everybody is full of weaknesses.

“The higher expression of anything becomes weaker. The roots are very strong, but the flower cannot be so strong. Its beauty is because of its not being strong. In the morning it opens its petals to welcome the sun, dances the whole day in the wind, in the rain, in the sun, and by the evening its petals have started falling. It is gone. Everything that is beautiful, precious, is going to be very momentary.

But you want everything to be permanent. You love someone and you promise: “I will love you my whole life.” And you know perfectly well that you cannot even be certain of tomorrow – you are giving a false promise.

“All that you can say is, “I am in love with you this moment and I will give my totality to you. About the next moment, I know nothing. How can I promise? You have to forgive me.”

“But lovers are promising all kinds of things which they cannot fulfill. Then frustration comes in, then the distance grows bigger, then fight, conflict, struggle, and a life that was meant to become happier becomes just a long, drawn-out misery.

“It is good that you are aware of your greatest fear, that it is of intimacy. It can become a great revelation to you, and a revolution, if you look inward and start dropping everything of which you feel ashamed. Accept your nature as it is, not as it should be. I do not teach any “should.” All shoulds make the human mind sick.

People should be taught the beauty of isness, the tremendous splendor of nature. These trees don’t know any Ten Commandments, the birds don’t know any holy scriptures. It is only man who has created a problem for himself.

“Condemning your own nature, you become split, you become schizophrenic – and not just ordinary people, but people of the status of Sigmund Freud, who contributed greatly to humanity about mind. His method was psychoanalysis, that you should be made aware of all that is unconscious in you. And this is a secret: that once something unconscious is brought to the conscious mind, it evaporates. You become cleaner, lighter. As more and more unconscious is unburdened, your consciousness goes on becoming bigger. And as the area of the unconscious shrinks, the territory of the consciousness expands. That is an immense truth….

Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest.

“But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural – as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.

“That’s what I am trying to do: to help you unburden your unconscious, unburden your mind, to become ordinary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be just simple and ordinary. Then you can have as many intimate friends, as many intimate relationships as possible, because you are not afraid of anything. You become an open book anybody can read. There is nothing to hide….

“You have so many faces. Inside, you think one thing; outside, you express something else. You are not one organic whole. Relax and destroy the split that society has created in you. Say only that which you mean. Act according to your own spontaneity, never bothering about consequences. It is a small life and it should not be spoiled by thinking about consequences here and hereafter.

One should live totally, intensely, joyously and just like an open book, available for anybody to read it.

“Of course you will not make a name in the history books. But what is the point in making a name in the history books? Live, rather than think of being remembered. You will be dead.

“Millions of people have lived on the earth and we don’t know even their names. Accept that simple fact: that you are here for only a few days and then you will be gone. These few days are not to be wasted in hypocrisy, in fear. These days have to be rejoiced because nobody knows anything about the future. Your heaven and your hell and your God are most probably all hypotheses, unproved. The only thing that is in your hands is your life. Make it as rich as possible.

“By intimacy, by love, by opening yourself to many people, you become richer. If you can live in deep love, in deep friendship, in deep intimacy with many people, you have lived rightly. And wherever you happen to be, you have learned the art; you will be living there happily too….

“If you are simple, loving, open, intimate, you create a paradise around you. If you are closed, constantly on the defensive, always worried that somebody may come to know your thoughts, your dreams, your perversions – you are living in hell. Hell is within you and so is paradise. They are not geographical places, they are your spiritual spaces.

Cleanse yourself. Meditation is nothing but a cleaning of all the rubbish that has gathered in your mind. When the mind is silent and the heart is singing… Just listen to these birds.

“You will be ready, without any fear but with great joy, to be intimate. And without intimacy, you are alone here amongst strangers. With intimacy you are surrounded by friends, by people who love you. Intimacy is a great experience. One should not miss it.

“But before you can become unafraid of intimacy, you have to be totally clean of all the garbage that religions have been pouring into you, all the crap that for centuries has been handed over to you. Be finished with it all, and live a life of peace, silence, joy, song, and dance. You will transform; wherever you are, the place will become paradise.

Abridged from Osho, The Hidden Splendor, Talk #4 – Only a Man of Meditation Can Allow Intimacy to Happen

You can read the complete talk HERE

If you would like to explore the question of our fear of intimacy, why not consider joining this course: “OSHO Opening to Intimacy” – HERE

There is always a 45-minute, free taster you can book: HERE

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