Fear of Intimacy – What is It And How to Overcome It

by Anne B. Robinson

Some people can be interesting lovers and supportive friends, but at one point, they say, it has gone too far and left you. This is how people who fear intimacy often behave, and this avoidance of emotional intimacy is a form of self-protection. They will engage in intimacy but feel vulnerable when the relationship begins to matter and turn away.

However, this fear is nothing to be ashamed of because people don’t choose to have this fear. They often suffer from it and with an inability to form deep connections. For example, a person with a fear of intimacy can even visit partys, share his or her thoughts about career, hobbies, mobile online casino for South Africa, and everyday stuff, but stay emotionally close and reserved with other people. And this problem can be successfully treated, for example through therapy.

Sighs the person has a fear of intimacy

There are some clear signs which can indicate that you or someone you know may have a fear of intimacy, such as perfectionism, pulling back from conflicts, sabotaging intimate relationships, and serial dating. Perfectionists often see their partners as holding impossible expectations for the relationship, and they are also very demanding. They are focused on imagined demands, often have low self-esteem, and try to earn love. People who have a fear of intimacy also can sabotage (consciously or unconsciously) intimate relationships: it means that they avoid relationships, in which they need to reveal their true thoughts and feelings and therefore feel vulnerable and get hurt.

The fear of intimacy can have different forms, but people with this fear always have a set of avoidance behaviors and avoid any relationships on a deeper level. Emotional intimacy means that people in a relationship (romantic relationship or friendship) can reveal their true selves without any worries. They can openly communicate with their partners and friends and don’t consider close relationships as a big danger that can ruin their inner life. And they are also able to set their boundaries and aren’t afraid to lose independence. Sometimes people with this problem may even be talkative, communicative, and friendly, but also be unable to form close relationships.

Some people with this mindset also tend to have one-night stands and prefer physical intimacy to emotional intimacy. Anyway, partners of people with the fear of intimacy often get hurt by such behavior and feel uncomfortable. And people with this problem suffer from their self-protective psychological mechanisms. Sometimes such mechanisms go together with different personality disorders (schizoid disorder, avoidance disorder).

Roots of the problem

Fear of intimacy always has certain roots and is often ingrained from childhood. Sometimes parents are emotionally detached or too overbearing. Some parents are also very anxious and emotionally stable, and kids tend to prefer avoidant behavior because a healthy connection is not possible. Sometimes the fear of intimacy is a result of a traumatic ex-relationship or bullying. Whatever the case, the deep-seated fear of intimacy protects people from vulnerability and from being loved and loving other people. That is why overcoming the fear of intimacy is a key to leading a happier life.

How to treat fear of intimacy in several steps:

1. Consider individual, group, or couple therapy

The healthy and close connection between the client and psychotherapist can be the first basis for forming a secure attachment that is not present in the avoidant’s experience of intimacy. Group therapy is also a great option because all the group members learn to explore their fear of intimacy and share their feelings and thoughts with others. And since all the members of the group have intimacy issues, they can feel safe and build emotional contact with other people with similar problems.

2. Analyze your past

Alone or with your therapist, try to analyze your past relationships and your relationship with your parents. Which experiences in your past did cause the fear of intimacy?

3. Work with negative statements and beliefs

For example, you may be sure that if you get close to someone, your partner or friend will see how awful you are. And you will get hurt because people leave you. It is important to transform negative statements into neutral and positive ones.

4. Work on your boundaries

The ability to build a deep connection with other people means the person has his or her own boundaries and healthy self-esteem. Only people who are confident about themselves and aren’t afraid of conflicts can build healthy relationships with other people.

5. Improve your empathy

Closeness implies emotional contact with oneself and others, so those who have avoided intimacy for a long time can’t build emotional contact. It is important to pay attention to situations when you avoid intimacy and try to be open with people. It may seem quite uncomfortable at first and it takes time to build new healthy patterns, but this step is very important.

And if your partner has intimacy issues, it is important to avoid pressure. Couple therapy can be a way of overcoming this problem together. And remember that inability to reveal your true self doesn’t mean your partner is bad. And it is not a sign something is false with yourself, it is just a common unhealthy pattern that can cause tension or even wreck a beginning relationship. And this pattern may be successfully changed into a healthy one. And healthy attachment is a key to leading a well-rounded life.

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