What is the first thought that pops up in your head when you hear the word ‘intimacy’. Is it about sharing the most real version of yourself with someone? Or is it about letting someone be the closest to you? Intimacy is a part of love, people also show love by some actions and by hitting pick up lines.
If you’re thinking of any one or both of these things then you’re absolutely correct, but intimacy is not just limited to this. The concept of intimacy is far beyond sharing yourself with someone and letting them be extremely close to you.
What is intimacy?
Don’t we all have different versions of ourselves? Some versions let people in our lives and others indicate them to stay as far away from us as possible. When the latter version of us kicks in, that is our guard coming into action.
We all have a self-made protective shield that guards us against people we don’t want in our lives. If we talk about intimacy, it is an unparalleled emotion that involves letting this guard down in front of the person we are intimate with.
When we are intimate with somebody, we show our most vulnerable side to them. We tell them our innermost feelings and share things that we probably wouldn’t share with anybody else but them. We ask relationship questions, talk to them about our dreams and hopes. More often than not, we also reveal our darkest secrets to them.
A person we’re intimate with is someone we have blind faith in. We trust them with everything we share about ourselves and also expect that they will never break this trust. It is only human to expect this much from someone we’re opening up ourselves to.
What is fear of intimacy?
Intimacy is either physical or emotional. While this is a beautiful emotion to feel and share with a partner, some of us might want to avoid being intimate as much as possible. Intimacy avoidance directly translates to having a fear of intimacy.
People with intimacy issues are often seen trying to find an escape from any sort of physical, emotional, or romantic relationship with a fellow human. The most toxic relationship is that your partner will keep craving comfort with closeness while pushing away anybody and everybody who tries to come close.
Fear of intimacy: Signs
Serial dating and fear of commitment
Have you ever come across/dated somebody who is a serial dater? If you have, then you would agree that they are just about the honeymoon phase. Once the initial rosy days of the relationship are over and it’s time to face practicality, these people tend to drift away from their partners. Since such people hate being single and also fear commitment, they keep jumping from one relationship to another.
As toxic as they might seem but the traits of serial dating and fear of commitment root from the fear of intimacy. These traits might have developed in an individual because of the way their previous partner treated them.
There could have been a scenario wherein their previous partner promised to do something for them and when the time came, they didn’t keep their promise. Broken promises are a major factor leading to the fear of commitment, which takes a bigger shape in the form of fear of intimacy.
A lot of times, people who are scared of intimacy feel that they do not deserve all the love and care that they are getting from their partner. Or, they need to be perfect in order to deserve the love and care they’re getting for free. Such people often tend to develop an inferiority complex from their partners.
They have this constant feeling that their partner probably deserves somebody better than them. A person chasing perfectionism is often seen pushing people away rather than drawing them closer. This is nothing but the fear of intimacy that leads to such behavior patterns.
Difficulty expressing needs
A person with the fear of intimacy often finds it very difficult to express even their most basic needs and wishes. They are scared of expressing/expecting more than they deserve. This feeling arises because such people think they are unworthy of their partner’s love and support.
It isn’t always necessary that your partner will be able to read your mind. If they can, it’s like a cherry on the cake for you. But in case they can’t, you have to be vocal about your needs and wishes in the relationship.
People with a fear of intimacy may fail to express their very needs. This often leads to misunderstandings in the couple which can develop a sense of lack of trust in each other. This pattern of behaviour is a vicious cycle that arises due to the fear of intimacy.
A person will only sabotage their intimate relationships when they have been sabotaging their own self for a long time. The signs of someone sabotaging their relationship include not trusting their partner enough, nitpicking on them, and being extremely critical about the minute things they are doing.
The fear of intimacy may also lead a person to act suspiciously around their partner or do certain things that they think will make them less lovable to their partner. Such people do these things on purpose because of their thinking pattern which constantly tells them that they are not enough.
Difficulties with physical contact
The fear of intimacy often tears a person up between constantly craving for physical contact and avoiding it completely when they get a chance to have one. Such a situation can stem from a person being physically or sexually abused by a previous partner.
If such a situation takes an even worse shape, it can even convert into ‘genophobia’ or the fear of sexual intimacy. In this scenario, if your partner initiates an act of sexual intimacy then you will most likely feel intensely fearful or panic-stricken. In some cases, even thinking about having sexual contact with your partner can cause restlessness due to the fear of intimacy.
A person struggling with intimacy is often seen to have low self-esteem & trust issues, experiences episodes of anger, actively avoids physical contact, and often has trouble forming or committing to close relationships. They also tend to be unable to share feelings or express emotions, have insatiable sexual desires, live in self-imposed social isolation and have a history of unstable relationships.
The constant fear of abandonment and anticipation of rejection is solely a result of the fear of intimacy. If you are someone experiencing similar traits or you feel your partner has these signs, you must consider professional help/therapy for the same.
Where does this fear of intimacy come from?
Physical or sexual abuse in a previous relationship, Separation issues involving overdependence on a partner, and fear of being controlled or losing oneself in a relationship
How does fear of intimacy affect us?
The fear of intimacy brings along signs like serial dating or having a lot of short-term relationships and sabotaging one’s existing relationships.
How to overcome a fear of intimacy?
Get to know the root cause of this very fear, determine the level of fear, and take the necessary steps for recovering from this fear.
What if your partner has a fear of intimacy?
Keep all scopes of communication open for them. Let them know you’re always available to listen to them. However, don’t push them into revealing the source of their fears.