What to Do If You Have a Fear of Physical Intimacy

fear of physical intimacy

If you think that you may have a fear of physical intimacy, you are not alone. There are countless


numbers of people around the world who experience awkwardness, uncomfortable feelings or even displeasure at the thought or practice of physical intimacy. Unfortunately, this fear can often translate into problems in marriages because of how it can affect both you and your partner.


If you believe that you have a fear of physical intimacy, there are some things you should take into consideration—especially if your fear is currently affecting your marriage.


Reasons for fear of physical intimacy

Before you can work on this problem, you have to figure out why you may have an aversion to expressions of a physically intimate nature.


There are many underlying reasons why you may have a fear of physical intimacy. The most common reasons people give for this fear include, but aren’t limited to:


  • Feeling embarrassed at engaging in certain behaviors in public (kissing, hugging, cuddling, etc.)
  • A traumatic experience in the past causing physically intimate gestures to feel threatening, uncomfortable, or even painful
  • Not feeling as physically attracted to a partner as you were before
  • Wanting more physical space that your partner wants to give

In cases where an experience in the past may be affecting your ability to be physically intimate, you may want to seek the services of a professional who has experience in helping people overcome their past traumas.


How to improve physical intimacy

The following tips may not apply in certain extreme cases, but you may very well benefit from trying to decrease your fear of intimacy in small, seemingly insignificant ways. Over time, these small gestures may go a long way towards making you feel more comfortable and even positive about physically intimate behaviors.


The following are some small ways you can help curb your fear of intimacy:


  • Instead of kissing or hugging in public, go for a small gesture like holding your partner’s hand or putting your arm around their arm
  • The next time you and your partner are watching a movie together at home, sit close next to them on the couch—you can even put your arm around them or hold their hand!
  • Instead of a long, dramatic kiss, try giving your partner the occasional peck on the cheek or lips—it will show them affection without requiring as much intensity

If your partner doesn’t know why you aren’t being physically intimate, then there is no way for them to help you or help improve the situation. Whenever possible, you should share the reasons for your fear with your partner.


If your partner reacts poorly, or still doesn’t understand why you fear being intimate, you may need to have a series of open, clear discussions about your—and your partner’s—expectations for intimacy in the future.


Mary Fisher is a writer experienced with helping couples understand marriage, love and relationships. She completed her studies in 2011 and is currently involved in writing articles on intimacy, relationships and family.

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