Have you ever wondered why you always test your relationships, or why you seem to lose yourself when you are in a relationship?
Perhaps you can find yourself in unhealthy or abusive relationships?
Or maybe you are the eternal singleton or find yourself too busy to have a relationship. Well, if you experience any of the above, you could have a fear of intimacy which is driving you toward the wrong kind of relationships and away from the right kind.
What is a fear of intimacy
Fear of intimacy can manifest in a variety of ways during our experience of life, but it will always influence the relationship you experience with people close to you.
Those who are living with a fear of intimacy often find ways to avoid being close to others and they can unconsciously be very creative and successful in their ability to protect themselves from the intimacy they fear so much.
The funny thing about the fear of intimacy is that many people who experience a fear of intimacy probably don’t consciously realize that they are dealing with such an issue.
Most people who experience a fear of intimacy probably consciously want nothing more than a beautiful, intimate relationship, and may often wonder why their relationships don’t work out, or why they interact in or sabotage a relationship the way they do.
For example; a person who has a fear of intimacy may actively seek an intimate relationship. However, they’ll probably sabotage that relationship in some way later on when their fear of intimacy is triggered.
Some people probably spend their whole life with this problem and never realise although they will all have the manifestation of problems in relationships – in some form.
How does a fear of intimacy influence your life?
Most people who experience a fear of intimacy will find themselves either alone, or experiencing difficult or distant relationships frequently, they may also even have difficulty in forming relationships with friends and family too.
As humans, we thrive on connection, and intimacy, it enhances our esteem and sense of significance, it also supports our physical, mental and emotional health so not allowing this part of our life to develop will cause us to have low esteem, become sick, unhealthy or depressed and even isolated.
Intimacy and connecting with others relieves harmful stress levels, which can have dire consequences on the body, caring and nurturing behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones. So as you can see connection and intimacy is vital for our well being and our enjoyment in life.
How does a fear of intimacy develop?
A fear of intimacy often develops during childhood as we learn how ‘safe’ the world is; emotionally, mentally and physically and in our early teenage years as we reflect upon the relationships and connections we have around us.
As adults we can develop this fear of intimacy further; for example, through a significant loss of a loved one – such as a relationship break up or a death of someone you dearly loved. If we have had all of those experiences in our lives, the fear of intimacy will be very likely to compound further making it even stronger.
You may also develop a fear of being abandoned, or engulfed, being controlled, dominated or losing yourself as a result of your experience in life which develops a form of anxiety disorder; such as social phobia anxiety.
Social phobia anxiety is usually triggered by a fear of rejection, fear of judgment, a fear of touch or even a fear of vulnerability.
Fear of intimacy is a very big problem and can be a vicious circle that needs attention and focus to correct. But it is possible to correct – keep reading on to find out how.
Signs you are experiencing a fear of intimacy
- You may find ways to sabotage your relationships such as through unwarranted anger, jealousy, or clinginess.
- You might test your relationship over and over again until one day it breaks.
- You may be aloof, preferring to be alone or when you are with others you might be there physically, but you are not there mentally.
- You may overwork, or over exercise, as a way to avoid physical interaction.
- You may become the eternal singleton, the passive house husband or wife, or even the local lothario. These are all examples of how fear of intimacy can present in life.
- You could appear to be the most sociable person on the planet with many good friends but the person who doesn’t have relationships, or who nobody really knows.
- A fear of intimacy will show up in aloof, avoidant behavior, aggressive or controlling behavior, clingy and desperate patterns, and even passive or doormat behavior.
How to overcome a fear of intimacy
If you are experiencing a fear of intimacy, you don’t have to stay that way.
You can change your life and start to overcome your fear so that you too can enjoy wonderful intimate relationships in the future. Awareness is the first step to healing when you know your avoidant style. You can start to recognize when you avoid intimacy and also what triggers your responses.
The process of becoming self-aware in relation to how you project your fear of intimacy enables you to begin to correct your patterns, enabling you to slowly begin to push yourself and build your trust in others by doing the opposite to what you want to do in these situations.
Take small steps toward ringing the changes and facing your fears, and you’ll soon overcome this fear of intimacy.
- If you overwork, take an evening off and make sure you spend it with somebody important and then remind yourself to be in the moment and enjoy the company.
- If you are too hard on yourself, try accepting your flaws in front of someone close to you and watch how they appear to show respect, love or delight that you are loving yourself as much as they love you.
Walk in the face of your fears, do the opposite of what you normally do, but do so in small consistent steps so that you don’t become overwhelmed and watch how intimacy starts to unfold in your life, and how your fear of intimacy seems to become a thing of the past.
It’s possible for everyone, and worthwhile too.
To overcome a fear of intimacy you just have to start to let people in, even on a small scale.