How to overcome the fear of intimacy

In this article, I will explain how the fear of intimacy is formed, how to recognise 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 behaviours and having a stable, healthy relationship is to recognise 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 behaviour is a defence 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 analyse your feelings and emotions. Realising 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 realise 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.


Final thoughts

I hope this article helped you realise 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)

For counselling and coaching appointments scan the QR code or press here.

Spread the love

10 thoughts on “How to overcome the fear of intimacy”

  1. Reading over some of these reasons actually helped me reflect on my own feelings of intimacy. A few of these do seem to ring true with me and I’m glad that I found this article. It’s true what they say – to love someone, you have to love yourself and be in touch with your own emotions. It’s a constant journey and I have used some of these excuses to prevent myself from opening up to people or pursuing a relationship.

    I will be sure to act on the advice you’ve given here and start opening up to people more. Thanks.

    • Hi Ryzehn,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to see that you have recognised some of the signs described in the article. Getting in touch with your own emotions it is indeed a great step in overcoming the fear of intimacy.

      Wish you all the best in your journey.

  2. Hi Ioana,

    Another great article and a very enjoyable read.

    I’ve never actually thought I had a fear of intimacy, but strangely enough in your “signs that you fear intimacy” I know I have actually been guilty of every single one of the 8 points you have listed.

    I guess the reason I say I’ve never assumed I had an issue is because I am naturally a very affectionate person, although I’m starting to realise that affection doesn’t automatically translate to intimacy in the case of a relationship.

    Plus reading your list of how to get over your fear of intimacy I can see that I may actually struggle with a few of these, especially when it comes to expressing my emotions.

    This is something I do try to do, but I think I have the fear factor when it comes to actually following through. I think I may be a little scared that I’ll just blurt out every single emotion that I’m feeling, so this is probably why I often like to keep myself-to-myself.

    Plenty of food for thought here. Thank you.


    • Hi Partha,

      Thank you very much for your comment. It is not uncommon for most people to be totally unaware of their fear of intimacy. People believe that being in a relationship or being affectionate translate to intimacy, but this is not the case. As you mentioned, intimacy is being emotionally naked and letting your partner see you for who you really are.
      I hope you take the information you realised by reading this article and learn to express your emotions. It is a long journey, but totally rewarding.

      Wish you all the best,

  3. How to overcome the fear of intimacy sure describes me perfectly, and you mentioned the reason for me feeling this way. You see my ex abandoned me, and ever since that I have buried myself into my work and helping other people. I have not sabotaged any relationships, and in fact I have kept as far from any type of relationship as possible. Even though I do feel content with my life there is something missing, but I am scared to death to take the risk of being hurt and abandoned again


    • Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment. I admire your honesty and courage to admit that you fear intimacy. This is the greatest step in overcoming it. Also, you have a clear understanding of why you feel the way you feel (your ex abandonment) and this is very important. Most people don’t understand the root of their fear and it makes it even harder to challenge and overcome it.

      There are different ways you can address this problem and it seems to me you are on the right path. What are your thoughts on counselling? Counselling in a great tool for anyone who desires to self-develop and overcome any emotional difficulties.

      Wish you all the best,

  4. I really enjoyed reading your article, I felt like some of the subjects you were touching were directed to me, thanks for the insight.

    • Hi Raluca,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I hope you will benefit from the information here. I hope to see you back here soon.

      Wish you all the best,


  5. Hey Ioana, after reading your article on the fear of intimacy, I have taken the time to reflect on my past relationships. I just realized that I lost the best thing that happened to me after unconsciously self sabotaging my previous relationship. I have bookmarked this article so that I can always come back everytime I go off the rails again. I’m gonna be better when I meet someone new

    • Hi Miraclex,

      Thank you for your comment . I am happy to see that my article has helped you realize that you had self-sabotaged your previous relationship, this is a great step in self-awareness.  I hope you will be able to apply the advice in your next relationship.

      Kind regards,



Leave a comment