In this article, I will explain how the fear of intimacy is formed, how to recognize the signs of it and how to overcome it.
One of the most important determinants of happiness is the quality of your relationship. Having a strong emotional connection with your partner can be extremely fulfilling.
However, the fear of intimacy is absolutely normal, especially if you had past relationships that left your heart broken or as a child you had absent parents.
Moreover, from an early age you were taught to be strong, to hide your feelings, to be independent and to act brave. This could explain why you might find intimacy scary and expressing your real feelings hard.
As a child, you might have been told by your parents that feeling a certain way is wrong, that you will not be tolerated if you express your real feelings, your own ideas or your reality. They either dismiss your need for closeness or used it for their own emotional benefit.
As a child, you choose to believe that your parents are right and that your feelings and desires are wrong. This comes from a fear of being abandoned.
Moreover, the fear of intimacy can also be a result of a parent manipulating the child into believing that their actions can emotionally harm the parent by causing them pain and suffering.
These children learn at a very young age to hide their feelings completely and follow the instructions of their parent without questioning them.
As a consequence, they develop a strong fear of intimacy. They will live their life believing that only by hiding their feelings and emotions they are worthy of love.
As adults, they choose to avoid intimacy at all costs as they fear they cannot always hide who they really are and therefore hurting the people they love the most. They push away the people they love the most and they doubt the stability of their relationship.
The first step in changing these behaviors and having a stable, healthy relationship is to recognize the signs of fear of intimacy.
Signs you fear intimacy
1. You are afraid of abandonment. If you grew up with neglectful parents and developed an anxious-avoidant style you are likely to develop a fear of intimacy. Read more about your attachment style here.
You learn to rely solely on yourself and you find it very hard to trust the support and love of other people.
You often believe that it is better to leave before you are going to get hurt when the other person is going to leave you.
The people who are afraid of abandonment find it very difficult to commit to a long-term relationship or to let people get too close to them.
2. You fall for the wrong people. If you find yourself attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable and distant, you might fear intimacy.
Also, choosing people that are not treating you right, that are emotionally or physically abusive to you can help you avoid getting close to your partner, therefore allowing you to keep the emotional distance you need. Knowing that there is no stable future with them is what you are actually looking for.
3. You are too independent. Although being independent is a very good thing, being too independent might be a sign of fear of intimacy.
Relying only on yourself and never needing help from anyone allows you to keep your emotional distance from other people and gives you control over your life.
You feel free by keeping a perceived safe emotional distance and by knowing you don’t need other people.
4. You push people away. When you fear intimacy, you first instinct when someone gets close to you is to push them away.
When you get close to your partner, you feel exposed and vulnerable. The emotional connection scares you so you try to keep your distance. This behavior is a defense mechanism that protects you from getting hurt.
5. You don’t let anyone see your flaws. You act as you are perfect and flawless in presence of other people as you might be afraid of rejection in case they see your true self.
Showing no vulnerabilities and putting up a perfect front make it hard for other people to approach you.
6. You sabotage your relationships. You consciously or unconsciously hurt your partner or create situations that lead to arguments. These arguments are keeping you away from getting too close to your partner.
You pick on little things and exaggerate the issues to prove to yourself that the relationship won’t work.
7. You are a workaholic. You dedicate yourself to your work and leave little space in your life to have a relationship.
This way you can avoid your personal issues and use your job as an excuse for your inability to have a relationship.
8. You feel bored when your partner does everything right. You might think love should come with excitement, anxieties and arguments to be the love you really need.
This feeling comes from a place of luck of self-esteem. It seems unfamiliar and strange to be treated the right way.
Deep down you feel you don’t deserve to have a perfect relationship and you are actively looking for signs to sabotage it.
From what you know, real love comes with suffering and tensions, with a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings.
How to overcome the fear of intimacy
1. Get in touch with your emotions. Make a conscious decision that you want to feel even thought it might be painful.
2. Practice meditation. Meditation helps you better understand your feelings and emotions. By practicing meditation you will be able to see the root of your fear of intimacy and objectively analyze your feelings and emotions. Realizing the reason for your fear of intimacy is the first step in overcoming it.
3. Practice expressing your emotions. Letting people know how you really feel and what is the cause of your feelings is one important step to overcome the fear of intimacy. Although it might feel difficult at the beginning, expressing your emotions will help you form better connections.
4. Practice listening and observing. Understanding how other people feel and learning how to read their body language will help you better connect with other people and lose the fear of facing your own insecurities. It also helps you stop hurting other people by ignoring the cues that are shown to you.
5. Stop trying to recreate what you lived by focusing on changing the ending (either in your childhood or past relationships). Change the beginning instead. Learn what doesn’t work for you and take the lessons with you in your next relationship.
6. Be yourself and let the person who loves you, love the real authentic you, with flaws and vulnerabilities. Only when you realize that someone can love you for your true self, you will overcome the fear of intimacy.
Remember, if you don’t fix your wounds you will bleed over people that never cut you.
I hope this article helped you realize what is the cause of the fear of intimacy, what are the main signs of it and how to overcome it .
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer them.
All the best,
(Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists)
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