Have you been dating someone for a while but there is no real intimacy? Maybe you are beginning to feel uncomfortable or maybe you are the one struggling with intimacy. You might feel like they are getting too close, too soon.
You can’t help thinking that the relationship could end up going bad and this scares you. You might feel scared that they aren’t going to love you and that the connection isn’t really there. You want intimacy but you might know that intimacy can cause your heart to break even more if the relationship doesn’t work out.
Fear of Intimacy
When someone is afraid of intimacy it means that they have a hard time forming a relationship because they don’t want to be vulnerable. They might have been in relationships where they were vulnerable, and they ended bad.
When you want to be with someone in an intimate level, you have to get rid of the fear. You have to be able to figure out what is going on inside of yourself and be aware that you are pushing people away.
This can be a decision that you are making because you feel that it will help you to survive. Being intimate doesn’t mean that you care about someone and being intimate doesn’t always feel safe for everyone.
Fear of intimacy means that you are not able to get as close to people that you care for.
There are different kinds of intimacy, and this is when you are able to reveal who you are and to connect strongly with people. This can be emotionally, intellectually, experientially, and spiritually intimate.
This is when you share your fears and your emotions with someone without being afraid and with being understood.
Being able to show your beliefs and your values without there being conflict. You will expect your values and thoughts to be valued and you don’t expect someone to agree with you.
When you are able to have a connection in private and you work together as a team to be close.
Being able to share your spirituality with someone and your ethics. This can be a time where you discuss your real purpose and what you believe spirituality is.
Intimacy isn’t something that is always easy for everyone. Some people have a hard time being intimate with someone at any point. They might have a hard time being vulnerable and they lack the compassion to share this with other people.
Some people have a hard time showing their intimacy with others and sharing things because they feel threatened, and they don’t believe that they will be received right.
Signs of a Fear of Intimacy
Here are some signs that you might be fearful of being intimate:
- You Don’t Share Things
Sometimes you will not tell people what you are feeling or what you are thinking. You might not even tell people when hard things are going on in your life. You share things about your day or about what is going on in your work life but when it comes to things that are private, you choose to keep these things to yourself.
- You Hide Your Feelings
Instead of sharing what you are feeling or what you want to do to make yourself happy, you decide to be passive aggressive or to stay quiet. You want to keep some things to yourself so that you feel safe, and you do this with your emotions and your feelings.
This could result in never being able to be intimate with someone and always feeling like a stranger around other people.
- No Risks
Do you date people for just a short amount of time before things get too serious? You might be afraid of giving up yourself to someone else and you might have a hard time being vulnerable with others.
Instead of getting serious, you decide to just be casual and to not make too deep of a conversation. Even in longer term relationships, you might avoid getting too close to this person.
- When It Gets Serious, You Get Out
Once you start really getting serious with someone and the connection gets stronger, you might choose to bolt. You decide that you would rather leave than feel vulnerable or to be forced to share too much.
Even though you care about someone, and you love being with them, being intimate might make you feel scared of being hurt by them and so you choose not to do it.
- When They Want More, You Back Off
You want to be with someone, and you want to be with someone that will share their life with you but when they want you to share yourself, you get frustrated, and you get scared. You don’t want to put yourself out and be super close to someone in case they end up rejecting you.
This kind of fear causes you to not be able to trust others and it can cause you to feel unsafe and to hide when things get deeper.
- You Want Something Different
Even when you get into a relationship, you might think that there has to be someone out there that is a better fit for you. You think of what a perfect person in your life would be like and you wonder if your partner will ever really be able to give you what you want.
When things get uncomfortable, you try to find something else that would work out better for you.
- You Are a Perfectionist
Getting criticized in the relationship can cause you to back off. You might have low self-esteem as it is and so instead of trying to work through this, you try to be perfect. You feel that if you are perfect then you can earn the love of other people. You show your partner that you are inadequate because you feel that you always need to change to be better.
- Sex and the Relationship
You might decide that having a one-night stand works better for you because then you don’t have to share intimacy with them or to be vulnerable in your emotions. But at the same time, you might be someone that is afraid of sexual intimacy because you are afraid that it could make you have stronger feelings for the person. It can be hard for you to feel secure enough to have sex with someone.
Why Does Someone Fear Intimacy?
Being afraid of intimacy can happen because you have been abandoned in your past. This could be from a past relationship, or you might even have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders often come from childhood trauma, and it can be hard for you to be intimate with other people.
If you grew up thinking that sharing what you needed was not good, you will not be able to do this as an adult either. To be intimate with someone, you have to feel safe when you are being vulnerable. You have to not be fearful of being guilt or shamed when you share your emotions or when you make some kind of mistake.
As an adult, to be safe with intimacy, you have to heal from anything that happened as a child that caused you to think that having intimacy was unsafe. This means that you have to stop detaching when things get deeper.
When you are close to someone, it might make you feel that you are going to be disappointed and so you choose to not be as close as you could. Disconnecting from others can leave you feeling lonely in the end because you feel unsafe when being intimate with someone.
Fear of Intimacy
Being afraid of being intimate is often something that happens because you were abandoned or because you faced some kind of trauma in your life. This kind of fear can lead to relationship problems or can cause you to never be able to have a solid relationship with someone.
Opening up to someone is part of trusting each other and if you are not able to do this because of your fear of intimacy, you won’t be able to see the relationship the way that it is meant to be seen.
This can cause you to disconnect from someone, even if you love them. When you don’t share your thoughts, feelings or emotions, the person will never be able to really know you or really get close to you. This can cause there to be a lot of resentment in the relationship.
The harder the other person tries, the more the person that fears intimacy will push away and will set stricter boundaries. This will us their partner away and will eventually end the relationship. Some people that have these feelings will often stick with casual relationships where they don’t ever have to really be invested. They can choose to settle down if they ever want to, but they don’t have to.
Even if the person that fears intimacy wants to be in a solid relationship, they normally push their partners away because of their lack of intimacy.
There are attachment styles that were proposed by Mary Ainsworth in 1950 who was a psychologist. She felt that as the attachment style developed in early childhood that the relationship with the caregiver would develop who that person was.
If the person had a caregiver that met their needs, then that person would be able to have a secure attachment with that person. They would feel confident and loved and they would be able to share their emotions. They know that it is okay to have a dependency on other people and they value the intimacy and vulnerability that they can share. They don’t have a fear of hurt or rejection.
On the other hand, if you were someone that didn’t feel safe early in life, chances are you can have an avoidant, anxious or fearful attachment style. This means that you are afraid of being close to someone and you are avoidant of this intimacy. You might push people out of your life, and you might fear being abandoned by those around you. If you are fearful in your attachment style, then you might be anxious and avoidant, and this can cause it to be hard to be intimate with someone.
Overcoming the Fear of Intimacy
Here are some ways that you can overcome the fear of intimacy:
- Figure Out Why
You need to figure out why you have a fear of intimacy so that you can understand your attachment style and why you feel the way that you do. As you look deep inside, you can find out what has happened in your life with love to make you feel the way that you do.
- Think of Your Future Relationships
As you understand your attachment style, you will learn how to navigate through your relationships. This can help you to be more engaged and learn how to become more vulnerable and open to your partner.
- Find a Safe Place
If you are with someone that is fearful of intimacy, you need to help them to find healing. The person has to be able to tell you what they are feeling and what makes them feel unsafe.
The most important thing is that the person feels safe with you and if they feel that they can talk to you and open up to you then this is a chance for healing. Being open and honest will help to make the intimacy happen.
- Don’t Pressure Them
When you are with someone that is fearful of intimacy, the worse thing that you can do is to pressure them to open up to you. Instead, take time to build up trust and let there be time for them to slowly open up to you.
- Find a Professional
You might need to speak to a therapist that can help you to open up your feelings and help you to work through things that you need help with.
If you are with someone that is fearful of intimacy, you need to be patient with them. You need to let them take time to open up to you without being frustrated with them. This can take a lot of time. It can take time for someone to open up their heart to someone and to be vulnerable.
Remember, some people are intimate because they have a higher level of trust and those that don’t will not feel as safe with sharing things in their life. It is okay to not always be vulnerable to someone, but you need to increase your intimacy with the person that you love if you want the relationship to be stronger.