To connect with someone intimately you have to let your emotional and physical guard down, put aside your pretenses and egos, and approach the other person with an open heart.
For any healthy relationship it is crucial that the partners connect with each through emotional and physical intimacy.
Growing up we learn to build fictitious walls and shields to protect us from imminent physical and emotional dangers. Over time time we start to inhibit roles that presents a sense of familiarity and comfort in our lives.
However, these walls and roles are shuddered and interrupted when we start an intimate relationship with someone. Your mind and body starts exhibiting signs of fear towards sharing your emotional and physical vulnerabilities.
A fear of intimacy causes us to struggle when trying to get close to someone emotionally and physically. Moreover, a fear of intimacy in men and women can make anyone feel humiliated and unworthy of love.
So if you think or fell that you may have a fear of physical intimacy or are uncomfortable with physical affection, 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 of physical intimacy or physical intimacy issues 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 of physical intimacy is currently affecting your marriage.
Reasons for fear of physical intimacy
Before you can know how to get over intimacy issues or how to overcome fear of physical intimacy, you have to figure out why you may have an aversion to expressions which is physically intimate in nature.
The reason why anyone would be uncomfortable with intimacy be it emotional or physical is many a times rooted to some past childhood experiences. It can be hard to understand the reasons for fear towards physical intimacy unless you and your partner find a way to communicate with each other.
There are many underlying reasons why you might be uncomfortable with intimacy. The most common reasons for fear of intimacy include, but aren’t limited to:
Feeling embarrassed at engaging in certain behaviors in public (kissing, hugging, cuddling, etc.). Feeling constantly watched or judged by other for your display of affections towards your partner is known to make many people uncomfortable.
It doesn’t always mean that your partner is afraid of sex and intimacy but they might want certain aspect of your physical relationship to remain private and away from prying eyes.
A traumatic experience in the past causing physically intimate gestures to feel threatening, uncomfortable, or even painful.
Verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect and even the loss of a parent or a loved one could have led your partner to face difficulty in being physically intimate with you.
Not feeling as physically attracted to a partner as you were before. If you find your partner struggling with physical intimacy as soon as you cross the initial phase of your relationship then it could be a possibility that they never truly bonded with you.
They would exhibit signs of being bored, trapped, or smothered and eventually start disengaging from you. It simply means that you two were not a right match for each other and it’s better for both of you to move on.
Wanting more physical space that what your partner wants to give. A fear of being controlled or dominated in a relationship can lead your partner to try and distance themselves from you.
Not that you are a dominating person, but their fear of engulfment could be a product of some childhood trauma or having brought up in an enmeshed family.
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 help you getting over intimacy issues and 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 sexual intimacy in marriage:
- 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
- Try to talk to your partner about your fear of physical intimacy and figure out what is the root cause for it. Seek professional help if you need to.
- Relax your mind and body, meditate, do yoga or exercise. This would help you control the build up of stress due to anxiety.
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.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Mary Fisher