8 Signs of A Fear of Intimacy and How to Overcome It
Fear of Intimacy – What is it?
Fear of intimacy is a profound fear of getting close emotionally, and sometimes physically to another person. Being vulnerable with another person is not easy. Intimacy is complex. When it comes to intimacy in our relationship, we all have some fear of intimacy, but the degree varies. Maybe a past relationship hurt us, and we’re still carrying that around, afraid of being hurt again.
It is often subconscious meaning people with a fear of intimacy create distance unintentionally. Most people don’t realize they have this. It often comes to light after a series of failed relationships or when the relationship gets more serious. Ironically, it tends to be positive signs from the other person that signal you to be on guard, to back away. When someone shows genuine love and care for you, that’s when your fears of intimacy surface.
Fear of Intimacy – Where does it come from?
Fear of intimacy is deep-rooted and results from feelings we developed in early childhood. We can understand this through attachment theory , or the formation of attachment with our primary caregivers. The type of attachment we adopt sticks with us into adulthood. Fear of intimacy can come from parents who were unavailable to us, or caregivers who were critical of us.
Fear of Intimacy – 8 Signs
1. It’s hard for you to share your feelings
You find it difficult to talk about your emotions with your partner. This could be attributed to you not being able to recognize your feelings, or you simply don’t know how to put your feelings into words.
2. You fall for the person who is unavailable
Time and time again you end up with a person who is unavailable emotionally. You are again with someone who doesn’t want to commit to a relationship. You may be unconsciously choosing a person like this because they prevent you from having to get close.
3. You avoid rejection by “not caring”
You decide from the get-go that it won’t work so you don’t try. This is a common defense mechanism that protects you from possible pain if your partner were to reject you. Instead, you sabotage the relationship before that can happen.
4. You avoid situations that could be intimate
Does the thought of a double date scare you? Does the thought of a small gathering with friends make you uncomfortable? Events like these would expose you to a level of intimacy you may be threatened by. Often this is hidden behind the disguise of being “independent” when in reality you are creating distance to avoid intimacy
5. You hide behind one characteristic
Are you hung up on presenting yourself with a certain image? Do you think you’ll only be liked if you present yourself in this specific way? If so, you may feel like you always need to be making people laugh, or you need to have a smile on your face at all times. If you are constantly leading with this characteristic you are not showing the other sides of you. You are not sharing the full you.
6. You make excuses and seem flaky
You demonstrate a pattern of excuses, and white lies to avoid getting too close. Perhaps you notice that the other person is interested in you, and your response is avoidance. You may tell the other person you “feel sick” or tell them that “something came up”. Over time they will get the message to back away from you even though it’s not truly what you want.
7. You prioritize everything besides your relationships
Burying yourself in work or spending an abundance of time on solo hobbies are signs you fear intimacy. You may tell yourself that you are simply hard-working and independent in order to disguise what’s really going on.
8. You search for “problems” with the other person
It may feel easier to find an out by nitpicking your partner and choosing a benign thing about your partner to take issue with. This is done when the relationship starts getting more serious and you work to stop the vulnerable feelings that come with that. So you decide you don’t like very small things about the other person. People with a fear of intimacy may try put blame on something ridiculous. They may point at their partner’s hairstyle or eating habits as the reason why the relationship is problematic.
Overcome a Fear of Intimacy
What are you associating with intimacy? What is your gut reaction? It’s important to understand the source of your fear. In order to move beyond the negative feelings we tell ourselves, we have to confront the ideas we hold about love and relationships. Ask what are the feelings you are trying to avoid. Ask what you can do to feel more.
1. Recognize that you have a fear of intimacy
First, ask what are you doing to become unavailable? Are you sabotaging your relationships? This can be done in many ways. Maybe you’re simply choosing not to maintain them so that they ultimately fall apart. You may pull back from any uncomfortable situation or you’re unnecessarily critical.
2. Find out the source of your fear
If you get close to people and share your full self, what are you afraid will happen? Confronting that is uncomfortable, but it will allow you to shut down the narrative you’ve been creating.
3. Look at your past
To build a healthy intimate connection, we are required to look back at our past. You can start by reflecting on your earliest relationships with the people you were closest with. Those initial connections with family or friends influence our expectations for our adult relationships.
4. Expose yourself to closeness
Try something different! Make yourself fully present with the other person. Increase your vulnerability in small doses, and stop missing out on the opportunity to feel love! Join our Breakthrough to Love workshop, which will help you become more open to love so that you can get to a place of deeper connection.