I’ve had this issue in the past where I confuse romantic attraction for intimacy. This, as you can imagine, resulted in me being hurt a lot because romantic attraction goes one way while intimacy goes both ways. It results in me feeling close to people who I was attracted to without the necessary shared experience that forms intimacy. After all, when you spend time with someone, and you are attracted to them but they are not attracted to you, the actual shared experience is drastically different between parties. You might feel a moment was significant, while for them it could’ve just been another moment.
This results in a conundrum. On one hand, I don’t feel close to that many people and want to feel closer to more people. On the other hand, I feel close to people with whom I cannot rationalize my feelings of closeness and don’t enjoy the sensation of being a smaller part in someone’s life than they are in mine. The two feelings put together results in a sort of paranoia where I try to stay at arms length from the people I feel close with because I don’t want to be put in the position where I feel closer to someone than they feel close with me. It’s petty, for sure, but this is a position that makes me feel my life is less significant. If I want to live my life with an existential imperative to maximize my own happiness, then I don’t want to put myself in the position where a part of my life is dedicated to someone else who does not meaningfully care about me.
The price of intensity is vulnerability. It’s a lot harder to be vulnerable nowadays because we develop better emotional regulation capabilities as we age, but every now and then I still find myself in a position where I am in somewhat a tender position.
The idea that someone is more significant in your life than you are in theirs is a delicate position. It’s an imbalance of emotional capital and a position of vulnerability. If you are in this position, you have the potential to be hurt more than you have the capability to hurt. In the case of the termination of this relationship, then the loss would affect you more than it would affect them, and that is not a desireable position to be in from a risk-management perspective.
The logical (and possibly unhealthy) way to address this imbalance is to only become friends with people where you are always more significant in their life than they are in your life. Another way of saying this is: Only become close with friends you are willing to lose. Aesthetically, this seems like a bad way to live life, so I don’t think I’ll live by this idea.
Another solution is to stop feeling the feels. I’ve tried doing this and was unsucessful.
The last way I could think of is to just accept the feels. This has its own issues because some feelings are not pleasant feelings. In fact, I would say most feelings are unpleasant feelings, yet we continue to feel the feels because there’s an occasional good feeling out there.
On balance, I think feeling the feels leads to a more meaningful life than not feeling the feels. Positive emotions can justify themselves, and negative emotions can be translated as art or fitness. Intense positive emotions are great. Intense negative emotions are not so great. But the problem with intense emotions altogether is that they make other less intense emotions feel quite dull. After I transition out of an intense period in my life, what I fear most isn’t the sadness but the emptiness that follows. Sometimes the feels lose their value as feels comig from a period of intense feels.
The price of intimacy is heartbreak. This I understand and embrace. The unspoken price of intimacy, however, is boredom in all moments of life that are not intimate.
Intimacy is probably the most addictive feeling in the world. I define addiction as a craving that negatively affects all other aspects of life that can only be resolved temporarily through a particularly addictive means. People often discuss addiction in context of substances, but I don’t think any substance matches the sheer swings of emotion that intimacy offers.
I find drinking and smoking to be quite fun — but only with friends. I’ve tried smoking once by myself, and that was not fun, and I have not tried doing it again. There’s a reason we use substances in social contexts and not in individual contexts. It’s not vodka and cigarettes that brings us our desired feelings of pleasure but the experience of sharing an plesaurable experience with someone else. Without other people, substances are quite dull.
I think The Great Gatsby has a lot of significance in American literature because it captures a lot of our understanding of what we look for in life. It is, in its essence, a story about someone who becomes rich and finds that is life is unfilled if he is unable to achieve intimacy with his childhood love interest. Some rich people are unhappy because they don’t have that many genuine relationships, although I don’t think it’s a feeling exclusive to being rich. I think most people are unhappy because they don’t have that many genuine friends, regardless of how much money they make. I think in general rich people get more attention for being unhappy because everyone likes a movie about a sad rich person.
I’ve been obssessively lately on personal growth because I feel I have little control in my social life. It seems, at least aesthetically, to be an unhealthy thought, but I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Maybe it’s because it shifts the responsibility of making friends away from me, which could potentially result in a feedback loop where I exhibit Bad Faith again in my life. Although I’m still figuring out how much control I have over the entire friendship-making process. I feel too close to some people and too distant from others. There are limits to how much I can control how others perceive me and how close I feel with other people. If I try to achieve intimacy and are unsuccessful, is waiting a viable strategy?