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Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

What is intimacy?

People have different ideas about the word “intimacy”. For many, it’s a code word for sex. We at reSTART do not think of it this way. We subscribe to the ideas put forth by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Dr. Brene Brown and Dr. Patrick Carnes. The Gottmans, through their 40+ years of research, say that intimacy is: “. . . the feeling that grows out of knowing another person’s past, present, and future in great detail (“love maps”) and they know the same about you. Intimacy requires the development of respect and admiration.”Dr. Brown talks about the sense of intimacy and trust that grows out of allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person, risking and “daring greatly” to be known. And Dr. Carnes talks about how, over time, two people come to know one another in an increasingly open way that develops trust. In the context of romance, he calls this “courtship”.

Friends With Benefits?

These ideas clearly overlap and get at the notion that intimacy is not sex. It really is the development, over time, of an open, honest, trusting relationship. This sounds like friendship, doesn’t it? And, indeed, it is that. In their study of satisfying, long-term relationships they found that the core of success was friendship, characterized by trust, respect, love and admiration. Between romantic partners there will be sex, of course, added into the mix.

Distorted Reality

The clients who come to reSTART have, for the majority, little notion of healthy intimacy. They have spent their growing up years playing video games, watching porn, and whatever other online activities they found interesting. The content of video games and porn was largely what informed their ideas about relationships. The more time they spent online and how early its overuse began influenced the ways their minds came to bewired.It is safe to say that most of our clients come to us with an intimacy disorder. They rarely know how to build and maintain close, intimate relationships, face to face,either with those they would like as friends, or those they would like as romantic partners.

Not Always As It Seems

Gamers often believe that their online friendships count as intimate, and, it is true that they may feel close to those they game with and talk to in their online communities. Sometimes these online relationships are mutual and sometimes gamers meet these friends in person and deepen their friendships or romantic relationships. But, here’s the thing, however close you feel to someone you only know online, the reality is that you have no way of truly knowing who they are. You may feel trust in this person and then have the trust betrayed either by them disappearing one day (a common occurrence) or meeting them one day in person and they are different from the person they presented to you online. We know, for example, of a 22 year-old man who had been having a romantic relationship for 10 years with an older man, pretending to be a grown woman when he was just 12+ years old. At 22 he was committed to never meeting this man, as he didn’t ever want to be discovered for whom he really was.

Shifting the Intimacy Paradigm

So, in conclusion, the online lives of our clients have, for the most part, not allowed them to develop the skills of intimacy-building. Their intimacy disorder can change within the safe, close environment of our program where they learn how to risk being vulnerable with one another. The change takes time, but many of them find that the investment in this growth is worth it. They, like all of us, need and want intimate relationships. As they discover a path toward it, their hopes for the future develop.

You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

Real Life and the Gaming World

The gaming world and the real world can seem at odds at times, especially when the potential for classifying video game behavior as addictive is on the table. On one side we have gamers who may either be playing without thought of potential consequence, gamers who are questioning the time they spend gaming, or gamers who remain in stark denial over the mounting evidence that technology could, in fact, be negatively impacting their quality of life; on the other side are worried friends and loved ones. For parents who eventually need to send their child to treatment over the deteriorating effects of video game use, the sentiment across all families are universal: ‘I wish I had done something sooner.’

Check the List

But how do I know if my child has a problem, and what are the early signs of video game addiction? It’s common that parents will not approach their child for fear of their children perceiving them as overreacting, or because they simply don’t know what to say. In the following, I will lay out the criteria that the APA is proposing for an individual to receive a diagnosis of Internet Gaming Addiction. Of the following nine criteria, five are needed for a diagnosis.

Preoccupation: Spends time thinking about video games, even when not playing them. Does your child feel like they are not mentally present during family or other activities?

Withdrawal: Feeling restless or irritable when not able to play games. Does your child become confrontational, or is there a strong change in mood when you try to limit your child’s technology use?

Tolerance: Needing to play more games in order to get the same excitement as before. Have you noticed that, over time, your child has become more and more preoccupied with their technology use?

Inability to Reduce: Attempting to play less but finding that they are not able to. Is your child finding that their want to play in transitioning into a need for gaming?

Giving up Other Activities: Is there a lack of pleasure in other activities that your child previously found enjoyable?

Continuing Despite Problems: Is your child aware of the negative impact of gaming on their life but chooses to continue gaming anyway

Deceive: Is your child hiding or lying about how much they are gaming?

Escape Mood: Is gaming becoming a way that your child handles stress or anxiety? Are they using gaming as a way to avoid or numb their feelings?

Risk: Is your child’s gaming creating risk of losing or harming significant relationships, employment, or performance in school?

Talking it Out

Communicating with your child or loved one about their gaming in an open, consistent, non-shaming way is a good way to foster honesty and trust. This can be hard sometimes, delineating ‘you’re breaking my heart with your gaming (more shame-based)’ from ‘it breaks my heart thinking that we haven’t been able to talk like we used to (more assertive-based),’ but more communication is better than none! Be honest with yourself—you deserve to feel however you are feeling in this moment. The best that you can do is share how you are feeling, specifically what your needs are. Open a dialogue with your loved one: how can we work together to both get our needs met? Communication can bridge the gap between parents and loved ones. It’s not about you vs. me; it’s about us vs. gaming, unhealthiness, and all factors that challenge our connection. To this end, we are all on the same side.

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