Together is Better (the scariness of intimacy and other issues)

I am an introvert, but I hate living by myself. After living alone my first 10 months in Korea, I couldn’t wait to move in with a roommate. But living with someone else is hard, too. Because: 1. We all have intimacy issues and 2. We are all inherently selfish and like doing things our way.

My Intimacy Issues

In one sense, intimacy comes easily to me. I enjoy opening up to people and sharing about myself. People often open themselves up to me in return. I naturally steer conversations toward deep, personal topics, so I tend to have deep connections with a lot of people.

But intimacy also scares me. People expecting things of me. Giving people the power to hurt me. It’s scary! This past year I’ve realized more than ever just how much it scares me!

Recently, a friend texted me: Did you tell so-and-so the things I confided in you the other night? I was suddenly gripped with fear, because the truth is, I had. Some of it, I had.

This is a friend I’ve been getting pretty close to recently. It’s been kind of a long time in coming, but we’ve really been opening up to each other, moving into the realm of close, best friends. (Dangerous territory.) Her text deeply shamed me. How could I have betrayed her trust like that?

My first instinct was to run away. My second was to soften the truth. I didn’t want to expose just how badly I had messed up, expose just how bad of a friend I really was. But you know what ended up happening? I called her and apologized. She asked if I was crying, and I said yes. I told her exactly what had happened (while crying..). And she forgave me.

Just like that.

I was sincerely shocked. She still wanted to be my friend? She still cared about me? Liked me? Wanted to hang out together? Have more deep conversations? Yes. I can’t even put what I felt in that moment into words. Because I didn’t run away and instead chose to be honest and real, I got to experience true love.

Selfish and Stubborn

My current roommate and I are quite different. Our personalities, living habits, and past experiences are very different, so living together has required both of us to make some adjustments. Several weeks back, this led to some tension.

When I talked to my mom about it, she said, “So it’s basically like you’re married, except you’re not.” Yup, pretty much. At times I thought to myself, “So this is what marriage is like. Except without the whole being in love part.”

I have to say, it was rough for awhile. Because I hate tension. Especially with people I am close to.

But I learned a lot from the experience. About myself, about my roommate, and about love. Me being a space cadet, off in my own world (which, as my mom told me, some people find endearing, but other people find annoying), is actually a form of selfishness. The stubbornness that rises up in me when people suggest I do things I don’t want to do, is a form of pride. And me learning to let go of these things is really good. I realized that when it comes down it, it’s all about unconditional love. Always.

I love having a roommate because of the funny moments and late night chats and because of the simple knowledge that someone else will also care if the heat stops working or the toilet stops flushing. But I’ve realized that I’m also thankful for the nitty gritty stuff, for the conflict and confrontation. I’m grateful that having a roommate forces me to be considerate of someone else.

As my roommate says, it’s great preparation for marriage. But it’s even more than that: It’s character-building. Just like rejection letters from colleges. Just like getting turned down for a date. It makes you a better person. These are all valuable life experiences!

Conclusion

Relationships are tricky, because they are living, breathing entities. They take time to develop, and they can get messy. But I’ve decided to stop being childish and really dig down into the messiness of honest, intimate friendships. That’s where the real gold is.

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Elizabeth is an American living in South Korea who believes in destiny, miracles, and living life intentionally. She holds to simple faith in a complex world, values the beauty of the everyday, and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is always learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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