January 19, 2023
Fear of Intimacy: Signs, Causes, and Strategies
Good social relationships (romantic or otherwise) are essential for a happy life, but to form those relationships, you need to be comfortable with intimacy.
For those with a fear of intimacy, forming strong relationships is challenging and even scary. The idea of getting hurt or even getting close to someone in the first place is too overwhelming to want to pursue those connections.
We’re here to talk all about that frustrating fear of intimacy and what you can do about it. Read on to learn more.
What Causes a Fear of Intimacy?
There are many reasons that someone may experience a fear of intimacy. Everyone is unique, and there’s no right or wrong reason to experience this anxiety.
Fear of intimacy may be a result of adverse past experiences. For example, if someone had experienced a traumatic relationship or even a bad breakup, that event may cause them to no longer want to get close to someone in an effort to reduce the chance of experiencing that pain again.
It can also be the result of childhood experiences. Children with a history of neglect who don’t receive a lot of affection may end up with a fear of intimacy in the future.
It may also just result from general or social anxiety.
This is an incomplete list. If you know you’re experiencing a fear of intimacy, it’s best to talk to a professional to determine the cause and next steps.
Signs of a Fear of Intimacy
So how do you know if you’re afraid of intimacy?
Do you want a relationship, but make no effort to pursue one? Even if you go on dates, do you find yourself serial dating instead of trying to form stronger bonds with individuals?
There’s nothing wrong with not dating or with dating multiple people casually, but if you’re seeking a more intimate relationship, these things aren’t helpful for you.
Someone with a fear of intimacy may start detaching from a partner when they try getting too close or asking too many hard questions. They may never want to take a relationship (or even friendship) to a more personal level.
They may find themselves resisting any efforts from partners to define relationships. They may start sabotaging those relationships.
A lesser-known sign of a fear of intimacy is perfectionism. If someone feels as though they need to be “perfect” in order to be lovable, they may use this fear to avoid ever pursuing intimacy.
How to Handle Your Fear of Intimacy
It’s helpful to see a therapist or counselor if you’ve identified a fear of intimacy. They can guide you through your concerns and help you develop self-help skills and coping mechanisms that will make life easier.
If your fear is rooted in past experiences, a therapist will help you work through them. If the experiences are traumatic, an EMDR therapist may be able to help you re-process them.
It’s important to confront your fear. Recognizing it is a good first step. When you notice that you’re behaving in a way that results from your fear of intimacy, make an effort to combat that behavior.
Have difficult conversations. Open up about your concerns with the people trying to get close to you.
That said, don’t rush it. Be patient with yourself while you heal.
Do You Have a Fear of Intimacy?
Having a fear of intimacy is normal and you can overcome it. Once you recognize the problem, you’re ready to start working through it. You’ll improve your romantic and friendly relationships as a result.