Are you afraid to fall in love? Do you find it difficult to get close to someone? Both physically and emotionally? These all can be signs of the Fear of Intimacy. Intimacy is when you can be your true self to someone. You can open up to them without feeling belittled, insecure, or judged. Some people cannot open up like others. There are various reasons for them for fearing intimacy. It mostly come from past experiences and sometimes social anxiety. Fear of intimacy is real. It is not something that a person can fake. Also, the fear of intimacy is not the same as being asexual. Asexuality is when you don’t get sexually attracted to anyone. Similarly, aromantic is when you’re not romantically attracted to anyone. These all are very different than being afraid of intimacy. You feel the fear of intimacy when you have emotional wounds that aren’t healed.
When you’re unable to get close to someone, it affects on your personal life. Because you cannot commit in a relationship, and which results your belief system and self-esteem. You start to believe that you aren’t worthy of love, and this belief hampers your wellbeing. Overcoming the fear of intimacy is very important in order to live a life full of affection, love and happiness.
Types of Fear of Intimacy
Intimacy is different for different people. Primarily, intimacy represents physical and emotional intimacy, but there are intellectual and experimental intimacy as well.
Physical intimacy means spatial closeness between individuals. In physical intimacy there are gestures included which identify romantic chemistry between two individuals. Physical intimacy can be platonic such as hugs and handshakes. It also represents more sensual touches such as kiss and sex.
Emotional intimacy refers to candid and authentic sharing of thoughts and feelings. Both the partners feel safe and comfortable in doing so. There is no scope of being insecure or judged. Emotional intimacy means cultivating a ‘safe place’ to tell each other your deepest fears, dreams, disappointments and other complicated emotions. This kind of intimacy refrains from judgement or contempt while sharing deepest personal information.
Intellectual intimacy means communicating beliefs and viewpoints without worrying about potential conflicts. Here both of the partners respect each-others’ opinions and voice. There is a sense of freedom to think for themselves as an individual. When you are intellectually intimate with someone, you value their opinion instead of feeling pressured to agree with them. There is a comfortable atmosphere around you which encourages stimulating conversations.
Experimental intimacy means having shared experiences, which leads to inside jokes and private memories that are exclusive to the two partners. Experimental intimacy creates that bond which encourages teamwork. In this kind of intimacy, the partners move in unison towards a common or shared goal, thereby establish a feeling of closeness.
Causes of fear of intimacy
Because of past experiences, heartbreaks and childhood traumas, you might grow a fear of rejection, loss or grief. This fears often prove themselves right when others let you down or disappoint you.
Mostly there are 4 primary issues which causes fear of intimacy.
- Abandonment issues – There’s a fear that once you get attached to someone, that individual will end up leaving you.
- Fear of rejection – You worry that once you reveal your flaws or imperfections, your partner will lose interest in you.
- Control issues – You have a fear of losing your independence as you become emotionally connected to the others.
- Past abuse – A history of childhood abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) can make it hard for you to trust others.
How can you overcome your fear of intimacy?
Falling in love challenges us in several ways we don’t expect. The more we respect someone else, the more we stand to suffer. On many degrees, both conscious and unconscious, we become terrified of being wounded. This leads to the fear of intimacy.
If you’re looking for ways to overcome this fear of intimacy, here are some basic techniques you can utilize to get this fear out of your system to live a more fulfilling life.
Work with self
1. Start expressing yourself
- Be aware that getting to truly know someone takes serious time and effort. The process of building trust is slow.
- So, be patient with yourself as well the person you’re dealing with.
- Expressing your feelings might be hard. But in order to get better, you need to express how you actually feel at the moment.
2. Look at your past
- Evaluate your childhood relationships honestly.
- Identify the models of relationships.
- Differentiate between messages you received in your family vs the messages you should have received.
3. Tune into your inner dialogue
- Think about your inner critic.
- Identify your deep-seated judgements, inhibitions, etc.
- Practice positive self-talk.
4. Start using mood tracker
- It is very important to know and evaluate your moods in order to cure your fear. As humans tend to change their moods more often than we change our clothes, it is important to record the mood and observe the pattern.
- Once you observe your moods, you can talk to your partner about it and act accordingly.
5. Accept uncertainty
- Embrace the fact that there is no guarantee in human relationships.
- Focus on day-to-day living rather than expecting a particular outcome.
- Practice courage.
6. Express self-compassion
- Be comfortable in your skin.
- Know and accept your own value and worth as a person.
- Value yourself as a person.
7. Look at your goals
- Ask yourself questions about the kind of relationship you seek.
- Ruminate on past relationship challenges.
- Review your wishes/goals and how your actions hinder/help you fulfil those goals.
8. Give yourself time
- Try not to expect an overnight change in your intimacy fears.
- Be easy and forgiving on yourself.
- Do not view your fear as a ‘character flaw’.
9. Seek help from a professional
- You can always seek help from a professional therapist in order to identify the origins of your fears and thereafter coping with them.
Also read: Why Are Women More Depressed Than Men?
Work with your partner
- Start with the topics that are easier to talk about. As trust builds, it’s less scary to talk about serious stuff.
- Define your personal boundaries.
- Define what helps you feel secure, and the things that trigger fear in you.
- Tell your partner what is important for you and let them know you’re struggling to overcome your fears.
- Tell them what you want.
- Don’t ask them to assume your ‘obvious’ desires; it prevents misunderstandings.
Respect one another
- Everyone has their own identity. You don’t need to agree on everything in order to love one another.