Fear of Intimacy in Relationships

Fear of Intimacy

Why would someone have a fear of intimacy, you ask?  Well, first let’s talk about what intimacy really means.  Intimacy is defined as a close familiarity or friendship, a private cozy atmosphere, and also a physical act.  The intimacy we are talking about today  is not about who you let touch your body, that’s sex.

True intimacy goes far deeper than mere physicality.

Intimacy, real emotional intimacy, means sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings, it means vulnerability, authenticity, being deeply known and seen, sharing our deepest love and our greatest hurt.  It means loving and being loved in an open hearted unconditional way.

You can’t love this way or be emotionally intimate and not be bare ass naked for your partner to see.  It’s vulnerable, it’s uncomfortable, and it can be hard work.

Is it any wonder people fear intimacy in relationships?  And don’t think to say that the fear of intimacy only applies to men.  It’s women, too.  This fear of intimacy often shows up in our closest and most meaningful relationships.

overcome the fear of intimacy

Where Does the Fear of Intimacy

Come From?

The fear of intimacy often stems from deeper fears closer to the core of your inner emotional being.  While there are times when you might be aware of an actual feeling of apprehension regarding positive outcomes such as love and connection, we are far more likely to be more acutely aware of a negative outcome.  These negative outcomes, such as rejection, engulfment, repetition of previous abuse patterns, fear of deterioration of a relationship, feeling that our affection won’t be returned, shame for the depth of our feelings, shame for our own negative self view, are really the driving force behind a fear of intimacy.

The top contenders I see most often are fear of rejection, fear of repetition of previous abuse patterns, shame for our own negative self view, and fear of engulfment.  (Engulfment is the fear of losing yourself within a relationship or within another person.)

Ask yourself this – When you think of baring your soul to someone, standing naked in your vulnerability, how do you feel?  What feelings come up for you, which thoughts roll around your head, what are you really afraid of?

Most people answer this with a fear of being hurt.  This is a fear of rejection!  Who isn’t afraid of rejection?  Rejection isn’t fun, it’s personal and it’s painful.

fear of intimacySigns of a Fear of Intimacy

Not all people have the same signs or symptoms of a fear of intimacy.  Some people have had abuse in their past and others abandonment while still others simply struggle with vulnerability.   Just because you may resonate with one or two items from this list does not mean you can self diagnose fear of intimacy.  Seek professional assistance with all relational challenges.

  • Lack of affection with loved ones.
  • Feelings of unease or discomfort when expressing emotional truths
  • Fear of revealing deep feelings
  • Fear of showing concern for a distressed or upset partner
  • Fear of discussing unpleasant personal experiences
  • Fear of discussing emotionally painful personal experiences
  • Fear of committing to long-term relationships
  • Unease or discomfort when expressing affection
  • Fear of learning about a partner’s serious personal issues
  • Difficulty trusting a partner with important personal information
  • Difficulty being or feeling spontaneous in the presence of a partner
  • Fear that a partner needs you more than you need him/her
  • Unease or discomfort expressing personal need
  • Fear that a partner will start viewing you as a source of emotional support
  • Unease or discomfort about open communication in a relationship
  • Fear of discussing relationship problems
  • Unease or discomfort about sharing personal goals
  • Fear of discussing past situations that triggered feelings of shame

Not everyone is on the same continuum when it comes to these signs; however, if you find yourself amongst this list it might be time to consider reaching out for help.

Relationship Coaching provides gentle guidance to forming new pathways of relating to your intimate partner.  Click here to schedule an appointment today.

JoyWork Suggestion:  If you find yourself amongst this list of signs of fear of intimacy please reach out and schedule a session.

Leave me a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions.  You can also let me know if you have a subject you would like me to address in the next article.  Feel free to share this article with your friends and family or anyone whom you think might benefit.


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3 thoughts on “Fear of Intimacy in Relationships

  1. It’s so interesting to learn of all the various ways that fear plays into our relationships, and even better to know there are professionals such as yourself who can help guide us in making things better. Thank you for the useful information!

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