Have you ever wondered why you always test your relationships or why you seem to lose yourself when you are in a relationship?
Why do you often find yourself in unhealthy, toxic, or abusive relationships?
Or maybe you are the eternal singleton or find yourself too busy to have a relationship. Well, if you experience any of the above, you could have a fear of intimacy which is driving you toward the wrong kind of relationships and away from the right kind.
What is a fear of intimacy
Fear of intimacy can also be termed as avoidance anxiety or intimacy avoidance. It is a phobia of being emotionally or physically close to someone.
In fact, fear of sex or sexual intimacy is also known as “genophobia” or “erotophobia.”
Fear of intimacy can show up in various ways during our experience of life, and will always affect your relationship with people you develop close bonds with.
When a person is suffering, they will unknowingly avoid closeness with other people and seek creative yet successful ways to protect themselves from getting too close to someone.
The funny thing about the fear of intimacy is that many people who experience it probably don’t consciously realize that they are dealing with such an issue.
Most people who experience it probably consciously want nothing more than a beautiful, intimate relationship and may often wonder why their relationships don’t work out or why they interact in or sabotage a relationship the way they do.
For instance, a person with a fear of intimacy may actively seek an intimate relationship. However, they’ll most likely sabotage that relationship in one way or the other when their fear of intimacy is triggered.
Some people probably spend their whole life with problems with intimacy and never realize it, although they will all have the manifestation of problems in relationships – in some form.
How does a fear of intimacy influence your life
Most people who experience a fear of intimacy will find themselves either alone or experiencing difficult or distant relationships frequently. They may also even have difficulty in forming relationships with friends and family too.
As humans, we thrive on intimacy, love, and connection. It boosts our esteem and provides us with a sense of significance. Not just this, it also helps level up our emotional, physical, and mental health. Restricting that part of the human pattern will cause us to have low esteem, become sick, unhealthy or depressed, and even isolated.
Intimacy and connecting with others relieve harmful stress levels, which can have dire consequences on the body. Caring and nurturing behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.
So, connection and intimacy are vital for our well-being and our enjoyment in life.
Causes of fear of intimacy: How does fear of intimacy develop
So, what causes fear of intimacy?
Fear of intimacy is a grave problem and can be a vicious circle that needs attention and a focus to correct. Keep reading on to find out the fear of intimacy causes that can trigger the problem.
- A fear of intimacy often develops during childhood as we learn how ‘safe’ the world is; emotionally, mentally, and physically and in our early teenage years as we reflect upon the relationships and connections we have around us.
- As adults, we might develop it further through a loss of a loved one, such as a relationship break up or the death of someone close. If we have had all of those experiences in our lives, the fear of intimacy will be very likely to compound further, making it even stronger.
- You may also develop a fear of being abandoned, or engulfed, being controlled, dominated, or losing yourself as a result of your experience in life, which develops a form of intimacy anxiety disorders, such as social phobia anxiety.
- Fear of intimacy is usually triggered by a fear of rejection in relationships, fear of judgment, a fear of touch, or fear of vulnerability.
- Childhood sexual abuse can make the person see sex as an obligation or such behaviors as inappropriate.
Signs you are experiencing a fear of intimacy
If you are feeling you have an intimacy phobia but aren’t sure about it, check out these signs of fear of intimacy to be clear:
– Sabotaging the relationship
One of the fear of intimacy symptoms is that you may find ways to sabotage your relationships, maybe through unwarranted jealousy, anger, or clinginess. You might not consciously do it, but it has become a pattern, and this is your way out of a relationship when you fear you are getting too close.
– Testing the relationship
You put your relationship through tests over and over again until one day it breaks. You keep testing the strength of your relationship by posing various threats to it. Considering you do it without any genuine cause, the relationship tends to break after a while.
– Remaining aloof
If you are afraid of intimacy, you may be aloof, preferring to be alone.
Also, when you are with people, you could be there physically, but you are not there mentally. This means you try not to be too involved with your partner. This can also come out as a lack of effort or lack of interest in the relationship.
– You make your schedule busy
You tend to be extremely busy and try to engage yourself in other activities so that you can avoid spending too much time with your partner. Most likely, you may overwork or over-exercise as a way to avoid physical interaction.
– Many friends, none too close
You may become the eternal singleton, the passive house husband or wife, or even the local lothario. These are all examples of how fear of intimacy can present in life.
You could appear to be the most sociable person on the planet with many good friends but the person who doesn’t have relationships, or who nobody really knows.
– Avoidant patterns
A fear of intimacy will show up in aloof, avoidant behavior, aggressive or controlling behavior, clingy and desperate patterns, and even passive or doormat behavior.
How to overcome your fear of intimacy
How to deal with intimacy issues?
If you are experiencing a fear of intimacy, remember that you don’t have to stay that way.
You can change your life and start afresh and overcome your fear to enjoy wonderful intimate relationships in the future. Let’s find out how you can do it:
– Knowing the problem exists
Awareness is the first step to healing when you know your avoidant style. You can start to recognize when you avoid intimacy and also what triggers your responses.
The process of becoming self-aware and knowing how you project your fear of intimacy enables you to begin correcting your own patterns and allowing you to slowly push yourself and build your trust in others by doing the opposite to what you want to do in these situations.
– Opting for self-care
Take small steps toward ringing the changes and facing your fears, and you’ll soon overcome this fear of intimacy.
- If you overwork, take an evening off and make sure you spend it with somebody important and then remind yourself to be in the moment and enjoy the company.
- If you are too hard on yourself, try accepting your flaws in front of someone close to you and watch how they appear to show respect, love, or delight that you are loving yourself as much as they love you.
Check out this video to understand the self-care tips and feel better about yourself:
– Take consistent steps
When intimacy is gone in a relationship, walk in the face of your fears, do the opposite of what you normally do, but do so in small consistent steps so that you don’t become overwhelmed and watch how intimacy starts to unfold in your life, and how your fear of intimacy seems to become a thing of the past.
It’s possible for everyone, and worthwhile too. To overcome a fear of intimacy, you just have to start to let people in, even on a small scale.
– Communicating with your partner
Communicate effectively with your partner about your intimacy psychology, issues, and the instances when you become extremely uncomfortable. A lack of intimacy in the relationship also means that they are fighting the battle too along with you.
Let them know what works for you and what doesn’t. Set some boundaries and gradually work together to break down the walls of fear.
Remember, constant communication at every step is the key.
– Be vulnerable
Be honest and vulnerable about how you feel. Don’t shy away from who you are. Let your flaws show. Once you are vulnerable, you will be able to feel your feelings more and in a way to deal with them. Just stay put.
– Visualize a happy relationship
Most of the time, we tend to become so negative that we forget we can create our own happiness. So, drive away your negative thoughts and think good things about the relationship or a future relationship.
Once your mind stops dwelling on the bad sides, you will automatically stop feeling negative.
– Appreciate yourself
You are fighting a battle each day. So, as fear of intimacy treatment, appreciate yourself for working so hard. Thank your inner self for constantly trying. A little acknowledgment goes a long way in keeping us on the right path.
How to help someone with intimacy issues
How to get close to someone with intimacy issues?
There are some real challenges to loving a person who is scared of intimacy. It may be helpful for you to understand that when the avoidant person shuts down their emotions, it means that they are anxious or afraid of such overwhelming feelings.
If they are uncomfortable with physical affection, do not take this personally. They are not trying to shut you out on purposely. They are merely trying to not feel a lot as it becomes fear-inducing to feel so many powerful emotions at the same time.
– If the intimacy-avoidant person leaves, do not go after them
It will only make them run further away and avoid confrontation. Allow them to sit in their fear for a bit. Let them miss your presence. During this time, spend time with yourself and consider the whys of the relationship. Remember, their actions have nothing to do with you.
– Do not be angry, they can’t help it
The intimacy avoidant person is not deliberately behaving as if they have no feelings. They have adapted this behavior in such a way since early childhood, where they learned that it was dangerous or ill-advised to share their emotions openly with those close to them.
You will not be able to force intimacy or emotion from this person, but there are techniques you can learn to help him be able to meet your needs to the best of his abilities.
– Take professional help
You can take the help of a therapist to understand the deep-rooted issue that has given rise to the fear of intimacy, whether you are the one facing it or your partner has the problem.