We have a widower friend, a great big gregarious guy who has always loved people and parties. Charming and curious, he has been an asset to any community he joined - and he joined A LOT of communities. When his wife died, it soon became apparent that he had lost a profound intimate connection that soon began to diminish his sociability. Always the diplomat, he soon became rather dogmatic. A guy known for bringing people together during disagreement stopped picking up on the cues that there was disagreement among the group members. It appeared as if his listening skills were slipping; I even wondered if his hearing was impaired.
One evening after a particularly awkward meeting, his daughter approached me and shared her concerns. Her read on the situation is that for decades the ride HOME from an event was more often than not a debrief. Her mother would ask questions, point out interactions, clarify others’ positions. Before meetings, my friend said her mom would often “coach” her dad. She would provide valuable reviews of previous meetings, point out potential people problems and often “cast a vision” for what might be accomplished if “someone” were to take a gentle lead on an issue. In other words, this effective leader was in part effective because he had a wise, attuned, introverted wife who helped him maximize his social consciousness and leadership skills, straighten his tie and make sure his fly was zipped. This is the work of intimacy.
Her theory made perfect sense. This is an example of a guy who had a good sense of “self”, paired with a highly effective intimate relationship, and a broad commitment to serving his community. When he lost the ability to have that one-on-one connection for deepening his own understanding of issues, his social interaction was suffering. Ultimately his daughter found some practical ways to step in and help with the one-on-one time; soon he was better able to function as a community leader. This is a real life example of how ALL of us need all three venues of love in order to be balanced AND for our communities to remain vibrant.