To connect with someone intimately you have to let your emotional and physical guard down, put aside your pretenses and ego, and approach the other person with an open heart.
For any healthy relationship, it is crucial that the partners connect with each other 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 we start to inhabit roles that present 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 start exhibiting signs of fear of 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 feel 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 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 the fear of physical intimacy, you have to figure out why you may have an aversion to expressions which are physically intimate in nature.
The reason why anyone would be uncomfortable with intimacy, be it emotional or physical, is many times rooted in some past childhood experiences. It can be hard to understand the reasons for fear of 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 others 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 aspects 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 may exhibit signs of being bored, trapped, or smothered and eventually start disengaging from you. It simply means that you two were not the right match for each other and it’s better for both of you to move on.
Wanting more physical space than 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 been brought up in an enmeshed family.
An enmeshed family is one where there are hardly any boundaries meaning that the roles and expectations of family members are not clearly set. Either parents are overly dependant on their children or the kids are emotionally dependant on their parents.
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 they may very well help you get 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 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 of 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. Healthy communication is the key to overcoming intimacy concerns.
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.