Mark (not his real name) was introduced to me by a business associate. Mark helped with a marketing plan a couple of years ago. I don’t know what we were talking about when he said, “I have difficulty with intimacy.” His comment caught me off guard. My first thought was “Dude you’re married with kids. You’ve seen your wife and kids in all stages of their lives. I mean, you’ve done the deed and everything. How could you have trouble with intimacy?” It took me a while to understand that he was referring to me. Now, I knew this guy was straight so I had to clarify. “What do you mean?” He said, “I have trouble with how you communicate!” I still was lost with where this was going so I said, “I need to be real here. I’ve been around women and children my whole life and this is the only way I can communicate. I can’t talk baseball with you so that whole manspeak is out. You’re just gonna have to ride the wave so that we can work together.”
Once I said my piece, it became clear to me that he was referring to emotional intimacy or self-disclosure. My ability to self-disclose my life was something he had never experienced before. And I don’t think it was just with guys; it was also with women. Maybe he wasn’t raised to be “safe” in talking about his life. Maybe he was so used to talking about sports (i.e. manspeak), that this was the first time he ever encountered someone who showed that being “authentic” was putting your truth out there for others to see. It didn’t take him long to get intimate with his life. Granted, he never shared really intimate stuff, but it was apparent that my ability to self-disclose, was a model, and an inspiration for him.
Question for you: What self-disclosure issues are you dealing with? Care to share? We’re all works in progress!
Focus: Intimacy and Self-Disclosure