The Dangerous Intimacy Game By Sheryl Aronson, MFT



In today’s world of relationships, a very dangerous game is being played in regards to intimacy or the human connection. I have had many conversations with women who have reported that they thought they were deeply engaging in a relationship with a man via phone conversations, texting and going on dates, then the next minute, that person is gone. No communication. No answers as to why he is gone. No taking personal responsibility as to ending the connection. Then that man moves on to his next relationship leaving the woman questioning and doubting herself.

Unfortunately, this behavior is now the norm, not the exception! There is an epidemic in our society that allows people (because I am sure women do this as well to men) to discard relationships like throw away garbage because of people’s inability to truly engage in intimacy on a mature and responsible level. This careless and narcissistic way of treating another person damages our human condition as we continue to survive on the planet.

As I have written in previous articles, our addiction to using social media to conduct relationships contribute heavily to this problem. Before we had texting, Facebook Messenger, online dating services, Smartphones, etc., we had to rely on meeting our future mate face to face … there were no distractions when two people were out on a date … a man and a woman had to rely on their ability to connect in each other’s company.  If a problem occurred, they had to work at getting through the problem face to face or perhaps the phone. In most cases, if the there was a breakup, both people had to face one another to talk. Yes, face to face relationships can be painful, difficult, stressful, but here, we develop ourselves as human beings to grow, evolve and mature. True intimacy is created when we don’t run away from our problems but struggle together to share our core selves with another person.

How easy is it to text a love message to someone or send an emoji, a love sticker?  How easy is it to message multiple women or men with the same heartfelt line without that person knowing you are sharing these sentiments with many others? How easy is it to just cut off a person and disappear like a ghost when you feel your intimacy tolerance has been challenged, or you’re bored?  How easy is it to move on again and again so you continuously feel that high of falling love? The answer … TOO EASY!!!


Every human being has a tolerance for intimacy. Our ability to be intimate with another person (intimacy includes sex, but it involves so much more than sex) is based on how love was shown to us as we grew up in our families and how we interpreted that feeling of love into our emotional constitution. Typically in relationships, one person will move toward their partner with an act of love.  Depending on the other person’s tolerance for that intimate act, they will either unconsciously accept it or reject it,  if they are inwardly threatened. For example, if the people in your family were affectionate and showed it openly, then you will likely be the same way with your partner and want them to be the same way with you. But if your partner came from the opposite type of family where people didn’t show affection openly and were reserved, then they could feel uncomfortable with your openness and push you away.

Intimacy is also established through our communications with each other … some topics fill us with dread and are painful. We push our partners away because we cannot tolerate the subject matter, or we move toward our partner because the communication feels positive and loving.  Intimacy involves our self- esteem and how much we feel worthy of love.  Intimacy involves revealing ourselves and how we accept the parts of us that we believe to be bad without feeling shameful.

Here’s how the intimacy game goes in relationships. One person moves toward their partner with acts of love, the other person begins to feel overwhelmed with that love because of their own inner emotional tolerance level so they pull away. However, the person that has shown their love feels that pull away, so then they back off which then triggers abandonment issues in the person who has pulled away. Now he or she wants the love back so they move toward their partner to try to get the love back. And on and on it goes.

Here’s what we need to know about intimacy. It takes two emotionally mature adult people to be truly intimate. Love is not a game. Love shouldn’t be taken lightly. Developing intimacy with another person takes commitment, takes work, takes self-examination, takes courage, and takes time.

Let’s start a new movement for relationships called: The Real Deal: Face to Face Love. Something has to change or we are accepting that our superficial and flimsy ways of connecting are now the Real Deal.