Fear of Intimacy: Understanding Why People Fear Intimacy
What is Fear of Intimacy?
Fear of intimacy is an often subconscious fear of closeness that frequently affects people’s personal relationships. This fear of physical and/or emotional intimacy tends to show up in people’s closest and most meaningful relationships.
Where Does This Fear of Intimacy Come From?
While there are times when we are aware of actually being apprehensive and distrusting of love, we are more likely to identify these fears as concern over potentially negative outcomes: rejection, the deterioration of a relationship or feelings of affection that aren’t returned. However, our fear of intimacy is often triggered by positive emotions even more than negative ones. In fact, being chosen by someone we truly care for and experiencing their loving feelings can often arouse deep-seated fears of intimacy and make it difficult to maintain a close relationship.
Why Do Positive Feelings Trigger a Fear of Intimacy?
It may be surprising to learn that the real resistance to intimacy often doesn’t come from the acts of our partners, but from a lurking enemy within us.
The problem is that the positive way a lover sees us often conflicts with the negative ways we view ourselves. Sadly, we hold on to our negative self-attitudes and are resistant to being seen differently. Because it is difficult for us to allow the reality of being loved to affect our basic image of ourselves, we often build up a resistance to love.
Where Do These Negative Attitudes Come From?
These negative core beliefs are based on deep-seated feelings that we developed in early childhood of being essentially bad, unlovable or deficient. While these attitudes may be painful or unpleasant, at the same time they are familiar to us, and we are used to them lingering in our subconscious. As adults, we mistakenly assume that these beliefs are fundamental and therefore impossible to correct.
How Does Fear of Intimacy Affect Us?
We don’t intentionally reject love to preserve a familiar identity. Instead, during times of closeness and intimacy, we react with behaviors that create tension in the relationship and push our loved one away.
Here are some common ways people distance themselves emotionally as a result of a fear of intimacy:
- Withholding affection
- Reacting indifferently or adversely to affection or positive acknowledgement
- Becoming paranoid or suspicious of a partner
- Losing interest in sexuality
- Being overly critical of a partner
- Feeling guarded or resistant to being close
How to Overcome a Fear of Intimacy?
In order to overcome our fear of intimacy, we must challenge our negative attitudes toward ourselves and not push our loved ones away. It is possible to challenge our core resistance to love. We can confront our negative self-image and grow our tolerance for a loving relationship.
We can overcome our fears of intimacy and enjoy more loving and more intimate relationships.
More on the Fear of Intimacy
Love is not only hard to find, but strange as it may seem, it can be even more difficult to accept and tolerate. Most of us say that we want to find a loving partner, but many of us have deep-seated fears of intimacy that make it difficult to be in a close relationship. The experience of real love often threatens our self-defenses and raises our anxiety as we become vulnerable and open ourselves up to another person. This leads to a fear of intimacy. Falling in love not only brings excitement and fulfillment; it also creates anxiety and fears of rejection and potential loss. For this reason many people shy away from loving relationships.
Fear of intimacy begins to develop early in life. As kids, when we experience rejection and/or emotional pain, we often shut down. We learn not to rely on others as a coping mechanism. We may even begin to rely on fantasy gratification rather actual interactions with other people; unlike people, fantasies cannot hurt us. Overtime, we may prefer these fantasy over actual personal interactions and real positive acknowledgment or affection. After being hurt in our earliest relationships, we fear being hurt again. We are reluctant to take another chance on being loved.
If we felt unseen or misunderstood as children, we may have a hard time believing that someone could really love and value us. The negative feelings we developed toward ourselves in our early years, became a deeply embedded part of who we think we are. Therefore, when someone is loving and reacts positively toward us, we experience a conflict within ourselves. We don’t know whether to believe this new person’s kind and loving point of view of us or our old, familiar sense of our identity. So, we often react with suspicion and distrust when someone loves us, because our fear of intimacy has been aroused.
Our capacity to accept love and enjoy loving relationships can also be negatively affected by existential issues. When we feel loved and admired, we start to place more value on ourselves and begin to appreciate life more. This can lead us to feel more pain about the thought of death. We fear both the loss of our loved one and of ourselves, and in the process many of us unconsciously pull back from our relationships. Fear of death tends to increase the fear of intimacy.
Even though the fear of intimacy is a largely unconscious process, we can still observe how it effects our behavior. When we push our partner away emotionally or retreat from their affection, we are acting on this fear of intimacy. Holding back the positive qualities that our partner finds most desirable is another way we act on this fear. We often try to make ourselves less lovable, so we don’t have to be as afraid of being loved. These distancing behaviors may reduce our anxiety about being too close to someone, but they come at a great cost. Acting on our fears preserves our negative self-image and keeps us from experiencing the great pleasure and joy that love can bring.
However, we can overcome fear of intimacy. We can develop ourselves to stop being afraid of love and let someone in. We can recognize the behaviors that are driven by our fear of intimacy and challenge these defensive reactions that preclude love. We can remain vulnerable in our love relationship by resisting retreating into a fantasy of love or engaging in distancing and withholding behaviors. We can maintain our integrity, learn to “sweat through” the anxiety of being close without pulling away, and gradually increase our tolerance for being loved. By taking the actions necessary to challenge our fear of intimacy, we can expand our capacity for both giving and accepting love.
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Tags: afraid of intimacy, couple, defenses, fear of intimacy, intimacy, love, marriage, Must Read, relationship
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You know so many interesting infomation. You might be very wise. I like such people. Don’t top writing.
Sorry, I didn’t know how to comment on this. So, I will leave a reply on this.
I found this article at the exact right time. For years I have been in a haze daydreaming through most of my life but I never understood why. Until now. Thank you for writing this article. This article was mind blowing and it truly resonated.
This is the best article that I’ve read on the subject and I have read a few. It is certainly the most helpful. Thank you for using a movie that I loved (and never really knew why until now) to illustrate your point. Thank you.
wow, this is really a good article, will definitely go watch this movie again. Do keep writing!
What movie are you referencing? I’d like to see it, but there isn’t a link included in this article.
The article originally referenced the film “As Good as it Gets,” however that section was later edited and the reference was removed.
I wonder what film the comments are about… The article above (Understanding fear of intimacy) doesn’t mention any!
I guess the original article was removed, but they left the comments 🙁
Yes, the article originally referenced the way fear of intimacy was demonstrated in the movie ‘As Good as It Gets.’
Someone needs to say something about articles like this, which expresses a conventional wisdom that is practically Disney-esque in its reassuring simplicity – and cluelessness. After years of struggling with – and fleeing or sabotaging – relationships, I did what you recommend, and it’s not so simple and rosy: in fact, it was a bad move. It was such a bad move that I can warmly recommend that avoidants should do the opposite of what you suggest, and learn to be alone until such time as those fears have subsided naturally (if they ever do). Fear of intimacy may be based in intuition about oneself: ignoring it and pressing forward may be a terribly bad idea. In my case it led to a growing dependence on my partner that can only be described as an addiction: I have become engulfed, precisely what I now realize I feared. I don’t especially enjoy the relationship, but thoughts of it ending create intolerable distress and panic. I have gradually given up my own goals, which do not fit my partner’s, and have sunk into a kind of depression, which has made it even harder to dig myself out. My partner, a wonderful person, is mostly unaware of what’s going on, because I am afraid to tell her and “rock the boat”. The situation is distressing, painful, and embarrassing (go ahead, tell friends and family that you have lost yourself, are miserable, and need rescuing from a relationship with someone they all believe is the best thing that ever happened to you).
Avoidants may act like they do because they know themselves better than they think: like someone who avoids alcohol out of a subconscious awareness of a tendency to addiction, they absolutely should NOT be encouraged to ignore their concerns. A “normal” person may be equipped to handle the siren song of a relationship (or alcohol), but the avoidant may be an avoidant precisely because (s)he is not.
Well…..Here’s a song I wrote and sang about Pushing Someone Away….. **sigh**
And Hang in there Thomas, I feel for you with your post….Whatever you do, you’ve gotta get your Goals back, as I am sure they were once very important to you. Peace 🙂
If they ever do? Now where’s the faith?!
I may be wrong but I feel your raw wounds behind your sarcasm. Yeah adressing the fear of intimacy in just an article may seem disneyesque I agree. However, I also think it’s a good start and it can give us some clues where to start. Being avoidant is not a paradox of being dependent. Both are attempts to jugulate love relationships. You are right again, distancing was indeed your defense against losing yourself in a relationship. I think what we have to work on is find the right distance in a relationship. We have to admit we want to love and be loved. Keeping away from love will just starve that part of us craving for it.
Good luck in your path to love,
And most of all your path to self love
Hi Thomas, I feel like you just wrote my life story. OMG! It does feel worse to ignore your instincts and push on. It feels cruel and as if you are not honoring yourself. Instead you are running over yourself with a bulldozer. It weakens your spirit and just makes you a worse partner for the person you are coupled with. Pair your low self-esteem with new doubts as to who you are and if you are indeed a strong person and then….., let the dysfunctional codependent relationship begin!!!
As for the reply from Just Me, I agree, learning the right balance so one does not lose themselves in a relationship is the key. But if one is not whole on their own, then what are they bringing to their partner? Why force it when a healthy step back and reflection may be in order for the intimate-fearing person?
You just said everything that’s going on with me as well. Yeah, he’s the best thing that happened to me. That’s all I hear. I, too, have that fear of ending the relationship. I’m so trapped. Though I do love him, he is not for me. I’m just wasting time.
I hear you. I felt the same way in a relationship I finally ended in typically dramatic, painful fashion. What’s worse, I wasted his time. He was devastated when I ended the relationship as he thought (as I’d led him to believe) that everything was fine. Now I have to live with the guilt and shame because I hurt a lovely man that absolutely did not deserve it…I tried but I just couldn’t…
So I’m finding myself on the receiving end of this exact situation – we have been dating for 4 months and reached a point where she has told me she is filled with anxiety and scared of an intimate relationship with me. The chemicals have worn off, the curtain is pulled back and we see each other for our authentic selves. Her fear stems from low self esteem and deeming herself not worthy/ready to give me the kind of relationship she thinks I deserve. She has been in therapy for years and has a high degree of emotional intelligence and knows herself. So she’s been very honest and direct with me that she is prepared to walk away to work on herself if her anxiety can’t drop to a manageable level.
So the conundrum is complex: we “get” each other and have a tremendous amount of chemistry and compatability. We love each other and there is a good connection, so the ingredients of a good relationship are there as well. She has said she would
Like to try to work through this innthe context of our relationship but there are no guarantees and Inhave to be okay with slowing things down and her pulling back, which is perfectly valid. I have my own anxious/attachment demons to battle so pulling back is okay by me. Do you cash in your chips and honor the experience or stick with it with lowered expectations and see where it goes?
I’ve entered the point in my life where my friends are loosing their first kisses, their virginity’s, and constantly brag about every detail of their relationships… I always loved hearing them happy, and hearing of their cute moments. But I was faced with a boy that told me he liked me, he wanted to date me. He was so nice and funny and sweet, but i felt so much discomfort with the whole situation. We hugged, for what felt like forever but I just felt nervous and full of fear. I didn’t like the thought of rejection, but what I feared most was not being enough. I told him I wasn’t ready for a relationship despite his trying to get me to say yes. (He was going through a depression) I felt so terrible and uncomfortable in my own skin that with shaking hands i went to my schools bathroom and cried my eyes out. I just hated myself in that instant so much. Even later on, when I was confronted with someone else that liked me, I found myself panicing for no reason, all i felt was fear, and nerves. Hell, i was shaking i was so scarred. And worst of all I had no idea why, and after talking to my friends and doing research, I diagnosed myself with fear of intimacy… That feeling of fear, and panic, its so much and it hits me out of no where, I honestly don’t know how to tackle the future that comes my way
Well it’s sure clear that you have refused to deal with YOUR deep seeded emotional baggage. It is apparent that you have been hurt over and over again and haven’t addressed those hurts appropriately. Sometimes the person is so wounded that it makes it impossible for them to even admit they have a problem. I think you have so much buried down deep inside of you that only a licensed therapist can help you. I do know one things for fact ….. Negative emotions are NEVER buried dead, they are buried alive and if left alone will grow inside of you like a cancer. Negative hurts will always come back and usually in a physical way.
I think you are right, but while you are alone, you need to focus on rebuilding your self image to make it positive and techniques like meditation, self affirmations, and therapy are useful for rebuilding this self image. Unless you treat the underlying causes you will never have a healthy relatonship
If you cannot handle and push through your own negative feelings, have you considered talking to a therapist about it? If this has not helped you or you don’t want to go that route… frankly, they DO make pills for this sort of thing. Perhaps you should have a talk with your doctor.
So, am I the only one that is A)a few years late responding to this but B—-Thomas re-read what you says. She said over half of what you just reiterated in a way you can make sense of. I’m not joking I was waiting for the ahhhh hah! But it did not come…honest re read what you wrote. She wrote the same things you mostly just said but she said them point blank and you added emotion and your life into it and it still says the same thing. Been a psychiatrist and a patient for years, I am a people watcher. I fell upon this article and your comment leaped off the page at me. Pls if you still follow this re-read it. I hope today you are better than I am . I work and help others alll day but getting dressed is a major struggle and I “threw out all my relationships and family “ one too many times….now I know what lonely really is. You have no clue.
Aha bunch of side comments and assumption making y’all ever bother to ask how they doing? But ya continue the bitterness and you’ll find yourself in the same position
This comment was written long ago, but I do relate and wish the original responder could see this.
I suffer from this problem and have no idea what to do. Will it go naturally? IV decided to go to therapy to help my self esteem because apparently it’s a big cause of fear of intimacy. Also does this problem lead to one falling for much younger girls because they are subconsciously unavailable? Help would be greatly appreciated
I have been married for 42 yrs. My husband & I both have issues but I’ve worked on mine over the years but husband refuses to see that he too has issues. Don’t know what to do – feel like I’m no more than a maid. He avoids any kind of touch and when he does I feel violated not loved. I don’t want to be touched by someone who thinks he is doing me a favor? I’ve been advised to leave but it is so so hard too!
I’ve been sabotaging my relationships without knowing what’s wrong with me. Lately I’ve come to understand that I’m really scared of letting people come close to me and I see myself acting differently in different situations in the relationship than I actually act. On paper my life is really good so it’s hard to explain people that taking the risk and making the leap are not so easy for me when I’m crippled with fear inside and intimacy is really hard for me. “Just go for it” doesn’t really help. In meaningful relationships i push people away and make all the excuses why i don’t like them and why it wouldn’t work. Then after I start blaiming myself for hurting the other person and go get them back. And this repeats. I’m 25 and in a way I feel lucky that I understand that I’m not crazy, but this is something that I can work for. I go to therapy because I want to be able to enjoy life and not become my mother who was never emotionally there for me. I don’t think it goes away by itself. Some people can learn to live with it and some can work on it by themselves, but for me therapy at the moment is the way to go. I haven’t found the tools to help myself so I need help from an outsider. And yes it is a lot to do with self esteem. When others say that you’re are beautiful or smart and you see yourself the opposite, it’s really hard to believe that they love as the way you are.
For a lot of reasons I do feel related myself into the contents of this article. For some reason I am constantly sabotaging any sort of relationship (specially romantic ones). Although I have people that I talk to, I simply can’t make them come closer to me and feel more intimate , I always fear what will happen next and expect some bad ending to any sort of relationship. I feel a lot the fear of loss, and that is pushing me away from any sort of true relationship. In my teenager years, I was known for being the guy that was better left alone, someone that simply you wouldn’t waste your time with. The few people that decided to stick with me, later on I found out that they were not even friends, they were opportunists that expected me to grant them something that they alone couldn’t attain (most of them was about marks and studying matters, since I always was someone who hadn’t difficulties with this subject). After that, colleague is when everything went to worse: people just turned their backs to me only because I didn’t fit in their “normal” behavior or ways of having “fun”. Since then, my personality became a lot more distant and most of the time I just wanted to be alone and try to enjoy myself as much as possible (although I ended up crying on my own sometimes for some reasonable amount of time, but I would wind up those feelings some time after, even if they came back after some time, which could be weeks or even months). After I graduated, I then noticed something very weird: I was maybe being “stubborn” about myself and something was truly missing, even without knowing what it was. After some self reflection about it (which was almost an year) I came to realize that what I was missing was a true relationship, being with someone you could be yourself without trouble and having the other person being herself without reservation, having mutual affection to each other. After I realized that, I tried to engage with some women I knew, but the point here is, I “tried”. When I though about it, felt a lot restless and my brain instantly sounded the alarm I should “stay away” from that sort of thing because I actually felt something “weird” about it. And this is when I stumbled upon this article and cleared up the matter for me. You maybe thinking this is just another rambling from an idiot that doesn’t even know how to live his live, but if you read my rambling this far I thank you, stranger, for your precious time to read all of this.
And one more thing, I am thankful for the author to come up with this article!
Enjoyed very much reading the post and your courage for being honest.
Would like to know what article you were referring to. Thank you in advance for answering.G
What you say is all so true it’s really actual real life for so many. My life really played out like yours to a T(scary) but with a twist (longer story) but it gave me goose bumps. I have helped so many people that were near death when they presented to me bc of apathy and self worth was non exist existent but I rushed in to help them, extra hours. I really went out of my professional way sooooo many times colleagues often turned away From me for that reason but I see it as other things.
We are and can only be to others what we are to ourselves….your thinking yeah right?? But you can’t let go of what might happen with a relationship and ny personal they’re always has been “ they all leave in the end anyways so just go now.” This is what we call Emotional Unavailable…to ourselves and to others. This is a life sentence and therapy makes it worse for me …why? Bc then it’s reality, I actually have this problem or issue and it’s not just me telling me about myself…..so no repercussions…so people need to tread lightly With therapy as Pandora’s box , yes needs to be opened aired out and addressed but for some this is what breaks any hope of ever getting better bc they won’t talk again once this feeling evolves and then I have no way to reach them bc they can’t reach me…they won’t even grab for a life raft in front of them, they are paralyzed by what people say to do what to do how to do etc. so, this is a topic I speak of a lot. For you, you know you. You know your every move that’s the problem….normalcy…comfort smothers all else because of lack of oxygen and motive to try ….this scares me too. I don’t have a good way around it but u don’t need a wife or girlfriend to feel whole or whatever. Friends Acquaintances or the mail man. Think before you do but only enough to make it through the first few steps of any event, then if u want to change u you will…but you have to be the one to jump. The first thing is making yourself Available to hear your own Fears and thoughts….then you can make baby steps to improve but in all honesty you are a lifetime in the making like me don’t think results come like the rubber stamp of approval says they do….they don’t . It’s even longer you truly climb back to where you fear what most fear and change is ok. Good luck
I can’t really personally relate to this issue but my best friend seems to be the one going though it. I met her online years ago and while we were far apart, we had a tremendous friendship. She opened up to me easily and I did the same. We talked constantly and she always gave me the things I needed in a friendship (love, compassion, care, time, affection, etc). About a year ago, I moved to her town. We had discussed how exciting it was and how amazing we thought it’d be to experience life physically together. But, once I got here, EVERYTHING changed. She became distant and was more worried about talking to and spending time with people who weren’t physically here. She neglected me and my needs and anytime I brought up the issue, she brushed it off and blamed it on her having a tough time adjusting from being alone to being with someone day in and out. I trusted her. But for a year, we had problems that only got worse and worse. She hid things that she never hid before. Lied to me about important things in her life. And just kept me in the dark for months on in. Eventually, I got tired and so did she. We had a blow out and her anger was the only thing allowing her to express her true inner most feelings towards the situation. She told me that when I moved there, I got too close and her body reacted. I didn’t know what this meant exactly. But she later said that online, it is easy being there for someone emotionally. Physically, it’s way different and the pressure is too much. She explained how in person she never let’s anyone in and although she had never expected to push me away, after years of being close, she ended up doing it anyone pretty much subconsciously. At this point, we are both holding on so tightly to a friendship we don’t want to lose. She’s terrified of losing me but deep down feels like she can’t be the person that I need (the person she was online). I believe that she needs to face her fears and get past them somehow but she’s convinced that at this time, she can’t. What should I do? I want to stay friends and be there for her but she is basically asking me to be casual friends with her (like have fun but without an emotional attachment). And I feel that is asking a lot of me considering we’ve been best friends with an emotional attachment to one another for years already. And I feel it may be just too hard to change from that and I feel that she may be being kind of selfish asking me to cater to her fear and enable her. I love her so much. She is like family to me and I want to see her succeed. But how can I convince someone to try when they are already convinced they can’t change?
I know this is way late for you to see this reply but I have an easier time handling casual or friends with benefits type of relationship. As soon as the other person wants a serious relationship and says love, I start getting distant and short(mean) with them. If I could only find someone that wants that weekend relationship and keep it casual, I would be good with that and keep the intimacy out of it and the other person constantly wanting to see me. Maybe why I hook up with losers in a relationship so it is easier on me to get distant from them.
how do i get my girlfriend back i guess i said i love you way to much and she seemed scared of me because she knows i mean everything i said and done we where meant to be and idk how to set the shit back on track everything i said i did and done meant i meant everything and then i got into a fight at school because she told my friend stuff that i told her and he was furious with me and i wanted to talk and all i kept doing was trying to talk until we ended up fighting this girl is the love of my life i swear to god i would do anything but im suspended and now she had that chance to tell me that she is afraid of me physically and mentally and emotionally!! right now i been thinking about this and i been doing research until i found this and it describes her 100% and then i realize her past and how this guy broke her hurt where she cant trust anyone and i been so good to her like i keep telling her we can get through this together you don have to get anyone else attention because im the guy im here for you and i love you like until the day i die and i meant it she broke up with me on Wednesday and its friday idk how long i can do this i need her and i want her to stop trying to bull shit our relationship i mean she is 3 years younger and im 17 but we are meant to be and its true like its so weird i feel like im in a love story type movie
After realizing that maybe I was the problem, I started researching what was “wrong” with me. When I found this article, I felt that I could relate, and suddenly everything became a little clearer. But discovering the reason for why I push people away, didn
have you ever went 41 years without love and intimacy?do you have any concept to thar? if you did experience that much time passage,please explain how you felt.i will check back on you,r fallow up answear.one more,i lived this life,and i can tell if you are just acting out a fantasise or telling the truth.by for now.
Very interesting read, but I do disagree with forcing yourself to be intimately close to someone when you are simply not ready to share yourself with another. With age it’s become harder and harder for me to connect (I am 28) when I am more set in my ways and a lot more selective about people that enter my life. It’s a contious decision, and I believe, a rational one. I am not fearful of being hurt, and fear is not a good word for me… Maybe I stuck in denial, but I simply don’t want to settle and waste my time when I feel complete and content with being by myself. I don’t suffer for any major insecurities and believe to have a healthy self-esteem and many suitors to chose from, I am unsuccessful in finding an emotionally mature partner and can look past my exterior and see that I have much more to offer and give. How can a person appreciate my other qualities when he is only focused on my looks alone?!
Well, he will not be focused on your looks alone. That is the core of in
I believe that some people were made to be in a relationship and others to be single. How do you know? you enjoy your own company. Society wants to couple people and those who can’t adjust have a problem. It is very sad to read about people who loss themselves in relationships and couples that are together merely because of routine. Both are very unhealthy for the individual as unhealthy as that person thinking they have a problem because they are unable to hold a relationship that has the potential to form a family. Everything in life is a learning process. It is healthy to be single and feel content about it. Don’t let society tell you that you are abnormal because you are not ready for an intimate relationship. It comes with time patient and professional help. By professional help I don’t mean a book that is talking in general points but someone who is able to directly address your unique situation. If deep down you feel content then let it be, you are not hurting anyone except for those waiting for you to have a partner more than you do for yourself.
I had a great childhood my single mom taking care of her children. I had a strong family presence in my life. My mom finally dated someone after 9 years being single after my dad. The man had many faults. I still had a good childhood. I was a social outcast all of my school life but that didn’t matter because I had a pillar of a mom that stood strong! Then I turned 13 my life went wrong. My mom started doing drugs. My dad who hadn’t always been there become our new home. My strong family blanket gone! I had messed around with a boy before going to my dad’s house. I thought this is love right? It wasnt. he tried to pull moves on my twin. I couldn’t handle my school issues well and I started to believe the things people said. I even stood up for the hurt only to be judge for doing that. As I grew up I went to college to a school I didn’t want to go to. To a career I don’t think I really wanted. To a place I had to stay cause I couldn’t afford anything else. There I saw my mom with her boyfriend and there constant physical mental abuse. I ran from it by using games. They stolen from me lied to me and mentally confused me to the point of no return. I have never loved another person other than my twin. I have friends but they come and go cause that’s how life is. As I get older and older I pull away faster from people. My mom now finally clean for 6 months. Doesn’t understand why I dont date. She told me to play the field. I don’t want to … but I do.. I’m 28 years old and I’ve been self reflecting for 10 years. When will I be able to let go. I only have knowledge but I can’t seem to use it. I understand .. i know what I need to do and no matter how I try to talk myself in the end I’m always I’m always the same. I can’t figure it out. I being to hate me I wasn’t like this before .
l totally identify with what you only difference is that l’m that much older than you – 25 years. l wish you peace.
I am somewhat dubious regarding the prevalence of “fear of intimacy” as an affliction. I have no basis to dispute that it is real; simply overused. First, the conflation of intimacy with sex causes one to blame a partner’s diminishing interest in sex on FOI, even where it may be a natural evolution of a long-term relationship. Unfortunately, our innate narcissism causes us to blame another’s FOI rather than accept that there are genuine reasons for a change in feelings or desires. Second, the overuse of the term FOI reminds me of the juvenile taunts hurled in the schoolyard at a child who won’t pursue a reckless endeavor at the urging of peers (i.e., “You won’t do ________ because you’re afraid”). This technique is troublesome (and immature) because it allows one to project their own insecurity on a partner rather than entertain the possibility that he/she is expressing their genuine feelings. Just because someone doesn’t say what you want to hear doesn’t mean they suffer from FOI. Finally, it feels like professionals who author blogs use FOI as a panacea to explain all relationship problems. Use of vague terms like “fantasy bond” or “real substantial relationships” are highly subjective terms often used without context. Reality is that we must constantly challenge ourselves and ask if we are being honest about our feelings. Only after holding ourselves accountable can we question the myriad issues that arise in our relationships, of which FOI may or may not be a culprit.
In a comment section full of people relating to the article and sharing their emotional experiences, your comment stands out as one lacking any emotional character whatsoever. Your approach to this topic reflects that you may have gone through some form of rigorous academic training. As someone from a science background myself, and who has gone through significant introspection, I have learnt that FOI is indeed a VERY SIGNIFICANT underlying factor across the board when it comes relationship troubles, both emotional and sexual. The deeper you go into your own mind, the more you will realise this. In my opinion the article is correct in referring to it as a root cause of so many problems. I hope you will go further into your emotional structure, and get more in touch with who you are at your core. I wish you best of luck my friend, may all be well with you
Intimacy Anorexia…Dr Doug Weiss…
Check it out Dominic
Well said Dominic. I often ponder this alternate viewpoint against the grain of modern pop psychology. While I won’t deny that our parental attachment does have influence on how open we may be to intimacy, but it is not the only thing. Some people do better uncoupled. If one looks hard enough, one can find many similarities in human behavior, in anyone in their lives that may be reflective of their parent’s behavior. I see how it can be reflexive to label someone as having a fear of intimacy if they don’t follow the normal societal “rules” of what coupling means or should look like.
Thanks for the lovely article. I wasn’t aware that I was suffering from F.O.I….
This is a good article and seems very much to describe me. I’ve been trying to figure out my root problems and have landed on FOI or fear of abandonment.
Here’s the thing. I’m so good at avoidance that I’ve been in only one pseudo relationship (I went out with a guy I didn’t like for a while… because I didn’t like him and didn’t want to get too attached) but have an anxiety attack every time I’m around any guy I like who is a)available and/or b)interested and run like a Kenyan for an Olympic medal. I’ve tried to stop it, but I haven’t been able to get over the anxiety even with alcohol and determination. I can only imagine being the guy in that situation. The myriad of mixed emotions coming out as mixed messages as fear, interest, anger at myself, speculation, nausea and despair war inside of me.
Most of the time I know myself to be pretty, intelligent, good, and industrious. But in those moments when I am attracted to someone I realize how ugly, fat, lazy, immoral and stupid I really am and wallow in my inferiority. It doesn’t matter that when I reflect on it, I know that the other person has faults too. I am egocentric in my failures and foibles.
I cannot overpower the visceral emotion of unworthiness with the logical knowledge of my good worth (at the risk of sounding egotistical I am a good catch- average to pretty looks, well educated with a good job and generally sweet and loyal disposition)
So how do I get over this? No one will ever get close to me. Do I want them to? Should I want them to get close?
This is exceptionally well written. It has provided great clarity for me. Thank you. I’m sure with your insight and self-awareness, you can make great progress on this issue.
…WOW! I have yet to read a more accurate comment that mirrors the trials and tribulations in my own life. My problem is I am fully aware of what my problem is and I also know that there are steps in order to combat these pessimistic feelings however where my roadblock lies is not knowing how far I will need to go or how long it will take to get over these insecure mind games I set myself up for. The thing is I CRAVE a relationship. I’m a SUCKER FOR THEM. However, I’ve always been better off living vicariously through movies/shows or my friends and giving them advice on their relationships instead of going out and finding my own. What I really want to know is will I ever get over this hurdle and meet a guy I deserve and more importantly truly FEEL that I deserve? Or will I be blissfully-miserably single forever…
Look up Pia Mellody on YouTube. Or see my videos on anxiety there (search for my name), where I summarize the results of many months spent looking for the best explanations and remedies that people have come up with for anxiety, which fear of intimacy is a variant of.
Hopefully this will explain why you get scared, and based on that, what you can do to grow stronger emotionally. Once we lift the instinctive blocks to loving ourself, that for many of us were required in order to survive danger during our childhood, and once we love ourself again, then we no longer perceive so much danger in getting rejected, and fear becomes manageable.
I litterelly think i just grew up a little. Here I am a tough Veteran who got back from deployment to meet a girl and start getting really close, i knew i had avoidant issues in the past but since i self medicated with prostitution that shouldnt be a problem anymore? … So this very caring young woman decides Im the real deal and am in it for the rifht reasons invites me into bed and i freeze, i dont say a word, next day we dont talk about it. 2months later she invites me over, pours some wine, we go on a walk, she calls me out on how she knows ive liked her for months, we get back and I can tell she is so frustrated at what shes doing wrong, she says again i knew you thought i was hot, yes i reply. I know you like me? Yes. Im sitting there like wtf dude? Theres no wall to climb, shes right there AND your upsetting her by not being intimate!! i say nothing. Im still trying to figure out what just happened. So the next day i send her a text about not wanting to see her anymore. Why did i hurt her?
My mother left when i was 4. And she passed 2weeks before deployment. Im 27 now. And between all that time i was never nurtured by a female. Im going to look into this alot more becuase i think im just scared to get hurt again.
My girlfriend of four years has a fear of intimacy. She thinks she doesn’t but she definately does. We’ve only kissed. She only feels comfortsble holding haneds. No touching, no sex, she doesn’t want to go on holiday or anywhere really with me other than walking her dog. She will go places with her carer (she is partially sighted) but she doesn’t go anywhere with me alone.
For example she says she is not ready to go on a day out to Blackpool, she is not ready for touching or sex. We’ve never even stayed the night together. If she is not ready for that after four years together, she never will be if we don’t seek help. But how can we seek help if one partner is in denial?
I don’t know what to do, how do we get help if she won’t admit she has a fear of intimacy.
I love her with all my heart but I am scared we
won’t have a future.
I feel bad posting about it here but I really don’t know where to turn.
Hi David, it’s interesting that you stayed together for four years in that situation. I know you love each other, but it is important to explore within yourself what the secondary gain may be to have stayed all this time. Consider seeing a Gestalt therapist. It has helped me.
Dear David! I hope your issue is resolved till that time. I read your story and was really touched, but please do not listen to advices to separate from your beloved one as if these relations are not worth of trying to develop them! I hope you will have strength to go on. You are very faithful and committed to your girlfriend, and this is a rare case nowadays. I myself, already married, have imtimate problems, because I do not find sex an enyoing thing, and this is such a burden for me and my husband, but although he is upset he never even thinks about separation. Looking for solutions of my own problems I read a lot of literature on relations. I do not have any concrete idea for you now, but from what I read I can see that the psychologists are so advanced now that for sure someone will help you. Maybe you should find a book about fear of intimacy and ask your girlfriend to read it when and where it is comfortable for her, so that you do not annoy her by trying totalk about this in person. Give her time and maybe when she opens it once she will recognise herself on the pages… At least when I did not know what is going on with me I found it helpful to read just anything about problems in relations and I was able to see myself sometimes as in a mirror, and developed a vocabulary of how to talk about this with my husband.
Also, get to know about her religious background. Maybe she is afraid that you will not reserve your sexual life till marriage, and that you will go too far.
P.s. Will be very happy for you if you suddenly answer me: thanks, but it is not any more a problem, my girlfriend opened up to me.
Wow, this explains a lot. Because of this disorder, I’ve already broken up with my first boyfriend. I couldn’t stand the lovey dovey things. I was beginning to think I was asexual for a while but then that wouldn’t make sense because I do find people attractive and want to interact with them. I want to love and be loved in return, but sometimes, I feel weird. I keep thinking, this won’t last it just won’t work we’ll never be together for long. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this. I bury myself in so much love fanfictions and books because the relationship is so beautiful and perfect and I was so happy for the characters yet I don’t want the same joy for myself.
EXACTLY! this is my exact problem to a T.
From this article, I think there’s validitiy to it. This article is trying to show people the rewards of opening up and experiencing something greater. “When we push our partner away emotionally or retreat from their affection, we are acting on this fear of intimacy” – I have been on the receiving end of this and it is a lonely feeling. If some people were meant to be alone, then why did they go looking for a relationship ? I often wonder what would help my boyfriend become more open to sharing himself with me.
There’s a domino effect that happens when one person isn’t open in a relationship and the other is. The other feels in the dark and might possibly wish and hope for a return in this interpersonal connection we call “intimacy.” I will say, I am sorry for those who cannot be open and have a hard time getting close as it is easier said then done. I would just hope that this post helps someone who feels they cannot be open and helps them change things around and let love in. I also hope this post reaches people who are dating a person with intimacy issues. And helps them make a decision on whether to stay, or as someone else put it “and stick with it…and see where it goes ?” Or to go “cash in your chips and honor the experience” and move on.
I love this article and want to use it on my humanities paper. Who wrote this article and when? Any additional information would be very helpful!
Glad you enjoyed the article. We will send you the reference information.
You’ve captured this peltfcery. Thanks for taking the time!
I would also love to receive the refrence information
I am 27 years male.
Can what am having be considered as fear of intimacy.
I had had 2 episode of depressions..both had exactly same reason, I fell in love with a girl,we enjoyed good moments together just as friends with others presence also. Secretly unknowingly I developed feelings inside me,then I became possessive,over possessive..now situation becomes like you are possessive for a person who is not in your control..She likes you,likes your outstanding sense of humour,your caring but she is not in love with you(I am sure)…now as I am possessive for her,when she becomes more friendly with anyone else I feel jealous or something which creates anxiety,I start trying getting over this feeling of love towards her,basically I try to escape..escape away from all this..finally it becomes depression..both cases had same reasons..exactly same…Now I am too much frightened about getting in love again,have started avoid talking to gals as am extremely emotional(a good poet also)…I am frightened if I again fall in love will have 3rd episode of depression and will rely on medicine for lifetime this time….Can you please help?please
Hi Adam, here is what’s positive: you recognize your issue and you are asking for help. Please find help with a therapist or counselor. Someone in that profession can help you work through your issues and take steps to make positive changes, to better your understanding of yourself, to make better choices in your life. I wish you well
I can very much relate to this article, and to be honest it took me quite some time to understand what the problem was and still is. Half a year, to be precise. For this time I nearly went insane from all the analysis and cross-reference and all the trying to understand what is wrong while battling my own fears with my other hand to clear out the way from the false fear-debris.
It was difficult but I got rid of all of my fears about relationships, and at the moment I am still learning to be calm and emotionally self-restraint, to give the space for my partner to gradually open up.
I believe there is no other choice but to take the gamble and wait around for long enough to see the project come to a completion, as in, seeing your partner getting rid of her(or his) fears or leave.
You can’t force, for anytime you try to force progress on this person, it is a terrible even for that very person you love most, and it will make her take steps backwards because each time she tries to battle it, she suffers a defeat, for you can’t battle something that is a part of your personality without consequences.
That, from my analysis, says that the best way to help the other person change herself or himself is to simply show extreme patience and tolerance, and be close whenever that person desires it, while understandably relating to why that person can’t be intimate with you. It takes a very secure and very strong character to do that.
Luckily for me, each time in the progress of the last half a year when I showed weaknesses, my partner showed the strength and still we’re together.
First thing’s first, you have to clear out the possibility of your partner simply holding on to you untill they find something better. You can do this in a whole number of ways, starting from asking directly, “do you want to break up?”, to simply ingoring that person and seeing his or her’s reaction.
For me, at the time I was unable to ignore my dearest and was overly-attached, and that was the main thing that kept me from progressing. Because the first thing that gave me progress is giving her space.
So obviously I couldn’t ignore her. But I asked numerous times if she wants to break up and each time she answered that I simply give too much affection and that’s why she’s cold and avoidant.
I battled for the last half a year my overly-attached-ness and fear of abandonment, and I can say by now that I am free of those fears.
Right now I am learning to be patient and emotionally restrained, to control my own emotions for that person to feel comfortable and “safe” with me so that we may progress further on.
We are also LDR and for the last half a year communicate via skype, for she left for Poland to work there.
There has been some progress, but today for example I had an emotional breakout when I wanted an immidiate and more effective solution and brainstormed everything I could do, but in the end of it, I simply figured out that every other solution would be pushing her. And I don’t want to do that, that’s why as soon as I realized that, even although I couldn’t delete my messages I wrote for her to disregard everything I wrote before, and that it wouldn’t solve the problem.
There is progress, but it’s tormentingly slow. But I’m patient enough to see it through.
I don’t know whether or not I need an advice, but I always will be glad to recieve one.
I think I simply need the strength to carry my love through this and be strong enough to win this biggest challenge of my life so far.
This article is great, but as people with fear of intimacy said, they have to go through this on their own, and pressure from their loved ones will only make them feel depressed.
And to all of you who decided to stick around with the person who has Intimacy problems, I wish you the best luck and I must tell you that you are the luckiest people in the world. This challenge, if you are strong and bold enough to stand up to it, can build up the parts of your character that under other circumstances would never be developed. it is trully a blessing for me, and despite the fact that I greatly do not enjoy inner anxiety and worry, I realise that I learned how to find happiness even in the midst of the great struggle, and find joy without being dependant on anyone.
Can I suggest that if you are not getting what you need from this relationship, then waiting around for your girlfriend to change is doing you a disservice. Why not just find someone who is more compatible with you?
I have been married to my wife for 18 years and have been the cause of immense suffering on her part as she’s patiently waited for me to “fix” myself. She loves me so much that she’s tolerated all this pain. She gave me several ultimatums of the years but has not left. She has asked me to set her free but I thought I could fix it. Therapy didn’t work for me. She just started an affair to keep herself from going crazy with depression. I don’t blame her. I need to set her free but when I told her it’s time for her to be happy she is trying to hold on. She asks why I’m so cruel. She wants me to go to an Intimacy workshop. As much as I hope that would work I am skeptical. I have so much deep seated emotional isolationism from growing up. I am a recovering porn addict and even though I’m no longer acting out I can’ just simply change my whole twisted perception of myself and women. Sad really but she needs better. Is this a cop out? Maybe but I don’t want her to continue to suffer. She found someone that makes her feel sexy and desired. We all want that. How can I deny her that when I can’t provide it. We have 2 teenage daughters so thats an extra delima. I may never be truly happy with anyone but that is my penance and not hers.
I can totally relate to your comments. I am in similar position, pain of separation versus pain of not. The feelings that you are a bad person by hurting your partner, plus all of the life’s connections you may have…children, property, etc and the fear of how all of that would be resolved if you do separate. I have just came across this article and I suspect there are so many trapped in relationships where they do not share intimacy. The question for me is, is the intimacy a cause or a symptom? After 15 years of marriage maybe it’s just accept your lot and be grateful…..Disney is for the movies, happy ever after may not exist.
This makes me very happy. I have been doing this all of my life, and I walked away from the love of my life because of paralyzing fear.
This article makes me feel happy and I’m going to try really hard now!
Thank you for this great article. It makes me happy. That’s the stuff which I needed to read.
There are broken human beings who may never achieve long term intimacy but have relationships without being capable of maintaining long term intimacy. I have seen some people who marry and divorce many times or have multiple affairs or relationships. I have seen men who get addicted to porn and substitute the sex addiction for intimacy. Sex and intimacy are not the same. I have seen some women who suffered some childhood trauma which prevents them from ever achieving long term intimacy. Borderline personality disorders can occur when people cross lines in relationships unable to achieve long term intimacy with constant cheating, repeat, reset, and cheat again! Yoga, self meditation, writing, self understanding, meditation, and prayer can all help. Ultimately, there are broken people who cannot be fixed. Death can also interfere with achieving and maintaining intimacy. Sex is not the same as real true intimacy. People can and do get involved in relationships which do not work and then have a lot of trouble getting out of the relationship only to find a new relationship which is worse. Floating from bad relationship to bad relationship. It is possible to be happy without being in a bad relationship. Know thyself. Too many men use sex as a substitute for intimacy and pornography is not real. Childhood trauma leaves too many women broken and in undiagnosed intimacy problems which in truth may not be solved.
True. Childhood trauma and parental upbringing play a huge part in how we turn out as adults. That’s also the case for me and it really is a sad life. I try to see the positives and be grateful for it, I mean, at least I have the basic tools to keep myself alive. But emotionally, I am deeply distressed because I can’t do the things I want to, since fear and anxiety hold me back. It’s even more upsetting when your peers, friends and relatives all lead happy, fulfilling lives.
I have initmacy problems which will probably lead to divorce – cant blame my wife if she leaves me – I cant change I never wanted children and dont think I can be a good father. I am now 50 and dont really understand the purpose of Life
Problems are disgustingly fixable and personal/moral issues are no different than work problems which we get paid to fix. Please consider this. If you form your identity off of negative things (all of which you have), then that is who you are to yourself, even if that is not actually all of who you are. You have chosen a path and it leads to dust and death without a greater purpose. Have you ever prayed to God about your life? Asked Him to help you clear your old self and forgive you so you might use your life for what you were created for? Please consider doing so.
This is such a beautiful response. God bless you!
Hi I’m 28 and I used to be in loving relationships, but due to my family drama trauma’s I’ve started to distance myself more and more since my last breakup. And each time I would push myself to go on dates it wouldn’t work out and then I’d push my environment away even more. And by environment I mean friends, family everyone. Now I’ve been living by myself for 3 years I have my own place now. And I enjoy being alone. I don’t really trust my friends completely anymore because there is a disconnect (from lack of investment in the relationship from both sides). Also I distance myself a lot from my family. I basically see them as little as possible, because throughout my entire life I feel like they’ve been dragging me down. I’ve experienced a lot of tension when I used to live at home, a lot of agression, injustice and abandonment. And now that I’m finally ‘free’, I want to be left alone. But they sometimes don’t understand why I can’t come visit them or why they can’t casually drop by my house, because “all of that is over now and ended long ago already (4 years ago). They don’t understand the impact that experiencing what I’ve endured with them still affects me. So when I say “no, you can’t come over now, I just want to be on my own today”, they say:”ok”, but I feel bad for rejecting them, because they’re trying to reconnect with me. But my entire childhood & teenage experiences with my family have resulted in my depression and 3,5 years of therapy, that I stopped going to because I just don’t see the point anymore in going to the sessions, we’re just going over the same thing over and over & it makes me feel like I’m not a normal girl and like I’m not part of society. And now I find myself at 28, after 3 burnouts and jobless for 2 years: stuck, energyless, pushing everyone & everything that lives and breaths away (I even had to give my cat away because the fact that he needed me and wanted my care & affection gave me panick attacks and sufficated me). I miss him so so much, it was like giving away my own child (I had him since I was 15). I just can’t handle to care about anything or anyone, I’m struggeling to even take care of myself. And everywhere I read thatwhen you feel low & life sucks, go find your support group: your family & friends. Well I don’t want to be around my family more that 1 or 2 days a month and I am disconnected from most of my friends & they don’t want to support me, because they are busy working hard on their own life. So all I can think of is: I hope that I’ll find a fun job soon, where I can maybe make some new friends. But I also live in a country where people are very stand off ish and cold, so making friends is really hard here. I now there’s a difference comparing to other countries, because I’ve lived in other countries (seasonal work). And I’m even thinking a lot of the times that I want to leave from where I live now. I’m just done with the place. It’s cold, there’s not a lot to do for people my age and the people are cold & closed as well, which will push me even further into my isolation. I need to be around friendly warm people that don’t necessarily directly want something from you other than just a nice convo or uour friendship. Because where I live, if people are very friendly (of my own age) they directly want something in return. Anyways it was nice to write here a bit (more than I expected) about how I’m feeling these days, it clears my head a bit and it makes me want to change the situation. I need change and I need a plan. Good luck to all and if anyone has some advice, please do feel free. Hugs from Europe.
Lol this convincing yourself you like to be alone stuff y’all should know better, ppl can do fine on their own but no one truly wants to be alone and why oh why wouldn’t someone throw out their fears in the name of life and love?? Maybe that person had smthg to gain from tunnel vision to get out of the inc mindset environment?? Sometimes pppl aren’t always great at admitting they needed help but never above asking for it or seeking it. Helpful article thanks
And yes, maybe they’re only seeking the same initial energy towards them, platonic. There seems to be a hindrance in all communications, what was done wasn’t done intentionally to hurt anyone. If someone tells you where they stand they’re clear. Expecting leads to frustration and then you’re frustratingly putting your energy that doesn’t give back to you or forces the other person to grow out of a comfort zone for their benefit and of others not to be petty or seek extra attention. But if you’re close enough to this friend I’m sure they would appreciate 100% honesty towards them even if it’s not what you think they want to hear, don’t assume ppl are martyrs or want to be stuck but the mere fact ppl care is entirely enough to spark change in all relationships.
I don’t really even try to incorporate intimacy into my life anymore….the only thing I want is peace. For me intimacy and peace definitely do NOT go hand in hand. I am old enough now to know better for myself….like attracts like…and because I am an imbalanced individual: mentally, emotionally and thus..physically…I only attract the same in relationships. I’m one of those that will get myself into a ‘relationship’ and then get fairly quickly that it is not healthy or balanced….and then because I’m the one choosing to end it before things go too far…then I’m always the one to blame for triggering real crazy shit….sometimes even violent and life threatening behavior from the other person. The last relationship I was in, or should I say was trying to get out of…my partner unpacked all of my personal belongings that were packed up while I was in the process of ‘escaping’/moving out, stole most of my belongings or destroyed them, and then neatly packed up/replaced my items with dirty, broken or meaningless objects. Basically, by the time I got my stuff back into my possession and was trying to get my life back in order, I discovered box by box that I had no functional material possessions left…only meaningless junk. Oh yeah that included a plant pot that had the dirt still in it but secretly buried and mixed in the dirt were razor sharp shards of other broken pottery just silently waiting for my hands to ‘find’. Very disturbing, very twisted and extremely validating the old adage: ‘You never truly know a person’….that experience was worse than just having someone break into your house and rob you….that relationship was like psychological warfare…and I really was just trying to do the right thing in attempting to end it early. Obviously, and as usual, I picked the wrong person to end a relationship with as it was very clear that ‘No’ or ‘Goodbye’ were not in this person’s relationship vocabulary without ‘Revenge’ and ‘Violation’ following after….ugghh….we’re truly some kind of experiment gone wrong with these big ‘brains’ of ours. Just too many psychological variables to safely manage before shit starts to unravel…inevitably and ALWAYS
Mu subconscious intimacy anxiety is so bad that I have been unable to be in any kind of emotionally intimate relationship since I started dating more than 3 decades ago. I’ve had dozens and dozens of “quickie” relationships with women in the past 30 years but never any more than a few weeks. Sexually I am fine when a relationship starts but after the 3rd or 4th sexual encounter my body shuts down sexually and i am unable to perform. I’ve been to half a dozen therapists over the years but none has been able to help. As you can imagine it has been a very lonely life especially now that I’m older and have lost my looks making finding a woman, even for a short relationship very difficult.
Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a good article…
but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.
This is an awful issue. I knew my partner had a problem for several months in that she could have sex with other men but rarely with me. It caused distrust and tension between us and she waited until our realtionship had hit rock bottom before opening up about what was going on – her fear of intamacy! Unfortunately by then she was pregant by another man and although I offered to stand by her and work through her fears she chose to leave rather than face her demons. It was heartbreaking losing her knowing she loved me and I loved her but she could not take what looks like the simple step of asking for help. (I know what you are thinking if she loved you she would not be pregnant by another man however you do not know the full story).
Wow… I have been in a relationship with a man for 9 months and this describes him to a T.. we are now not speaking and pretty much broken up bea cause he says that I am too needy and demanding. From the get go he has never initiated sex…after sex there is no cuddling and he always starts with a weird nervous cough right after…. I get no emotional support from him… he can not even look me in the eyes while I am trying to praise him or cuddle with him.. the only time he will ever look me in the eyes is when we are speaking about something as mundane as a phone bill. I am a very independent woman who has turned into a needy mess trying to gauge where I stand in this man’s mind and heart. I am very affectionate and open and have probably pushed him away this time. I have had trouble even getting him to hug me with 2 arms, usually I get a one armed hug. He has said I Love you, but never in a romantic manner and most certainly never while looking at me. Today he has told me that he can not meet my needs…. he can’t make me happy…. that I am an attractive, smart, , nice girl who’s got her act together and that I should never change. He said he would always be there for me, but he can’t make me happy. I am of course devastated and trying to sort it all out in my head… the more I keep going after him the more I keep pushing him away. I have no doubt that he loves me in his own way… we have talked numerous times of a future together but every time I ask for some more closeness he pushes me away. Even sometimes when I am trying to kiss him he squirms and turns his head from side to side like an 8 year old boy fearing being kissed by his grandmother! This man also has some deep rooted self esteem issues perhaps due to being obese almost all of his life. He had the weight loss surgery 2 years ago and is still obese but not 500 lbs like he used to be. I have let him know that I love him with all of my heart and That I am here still. The last few months he has been rather mean to me at times… disrespectful and demeaning. I feel like he almost did that to force me to break up with him because he did not have the heart to do it him self. I weep as I write this. My heart is broken
I admit that I avoid intimacy, but not out of fear of loss. It’s true that I have a negative self-image. Both parents worked long hours so I was bounced from in-home child-care situation to the next, usually provided by geriatric women who only interacted with me with a meal. Otherwise, I was left alone. I had one sibling growing up. A sister that was 10-years my senior who was full of resentment, and took it out on me whenever she was “forced to babysit” me by our parents. She repeatedly told me that that I was “just a doofus”, that our parents didn’t love me, and that I was “a mistake.” This, along with other experiences instilled in me a lack of confidence and social skills that made her negative remarks self-fulfilling by the time I hit grade-school. My peers, sensing my insecurity mercilessly tormented me with similar remarks. That served well to permanently validate my sister’s words and my own self-assessment. Unlike the article suggests, I never retreated into a fantasy life. I have always been super-grounded in the reality of the moment. Instead, I immersed myself in diverse intellectual pursuits, like reading, designing or building things, etc. This distraction became an aptitude that enabled me to successfully complete college and grad school then then become an electronics engineer. Through years of practice, I’ve learned to put up a facade, I now appear attractive, outwardly social, and quite normal in social situations. Co-workers and neighbors frequently attempt to be my “friend.” I am irritatingly-often invited to cook-outs, or other social activities but graciously decline “because I’m just too busy.” Setting aside the fact that I’d be bored out of my skull since socializing really does nothing for me, I feel that it would be dishonest for me to attend, because it’s not me but my facade they like. Otherwise, I have a deep sense of disgust or pity for anyone who would want to spend time with the REAL me. Through the years, I have accepted a few invites for dates (women asking me out), but ultimately I sabotage those when it seems the interested party wants more from me and I begin to experience the disgust/pity thing. So basically, I harbor a hatred of myself. The only way I have kept from offing myself over the years is to try to add value to society by being kind, working hard, and being charitable with my time, talents, and financial resources. I make great money, but give most of it away. I’ve been doing this for two decades now. I ultimately envision myself freezing to death some winter night, alone on a park-bench after I’m forced into retirement and can no longer serve a purpose in this world.
I’m trying to understand an avoidant person’s mind to better understand the guy I’ve been seeing. Your message is really sad. It sounds like a lonely, self-imposed existence that people like me who have an anxious attachment style want to fix or rescue. Nothing is wrong with most of what you wrote as far as getting bored out of your skull going to social functions where you feel forced to be on. Superficial interactions are not fun. Maybe you’re an introvert. What I would like to ask is what do you mean by you feel disgust/pity when women start to ask for more from you? Could you explain more of what this feels like, and how you think it could be avoided? The guy I’ve been seeing would seem to be all about me, texting me all throughout the day every day, being sweet, thoughtful, caring and seeming to be happy and excited about seeing me, but the minute I brought up wanting to see him more than two nights a week on an occasional basis and this is after two years of dating he blew up, and is now completely silent. Why would a girl just wanting to spend more time with you out of love and enjoying being with you cause you to feel disgust? I felt his disgust and anger as if he suddenly hated me. It’s utterly heartbreaking to me, and I’m sure he feels pity for me, but other than pity I don’t feel it phases him to stop seeing me too much.
Take a look at my Anxiety videos on YouTube (channel is my name), and see if the information there helps you any. Self hatred possiby saved your life early on, if it helped you stay out of your “caretakers” crosshairs. But then later on, one of the costs of not loving yourself is not being able to get enjoyment out of doing things for yourself. Peter Levine and Pia Mellody have come up with effective treatments, I hope you will look into these and you will finally feel the relief and joy of loving yourself.
I can relate to this article. My boyfriend of 8 months has blockage towards me when it comes to be intimate. He has a hard time touching me and cant seem to understand why because with other woman he was fine but with me its completely different. We are both in our 50’s and I love being intimate with my boyfriend. For me, being in a Relationship and having no intimacy makes me push away and makes me think that I might be the problem but nooooo he has had a bad divorce (his wife cheated on him and she got caught) and he lacks trust cause of that. We are deeply in love but I miss him touching me intimately. He is aware and cant seem to understand why he blocks when we sleep together. I will definetely show him this article. Hope it will help him in the long run cause i believe in him and our love.
I have spent decades alone in deep rooted fear being sexually molested by a parent, verbally, physically and emotionally abused by both parents
Time after time after time , I have avoided, avoided, avoided. Developed an addiction to sex, which in reality is a fear of intimacy, because it’s easier to be intimate witha computer than a real live person. I have self -sabotaged relationships one by one . Leaving me alone and utterly sad and alone. Crying out to God for help.
I live with bipolar, PTSD, general and social anxiety disorders. I take my meds ,faithfully see a psychiatrist, and talk therapist, I lead addiction and mental illness support groups. I am in ol ed in my church. I have heard that the only way out of,something is to go through it, therefore with the next lady I am with she will know all about my issues and concerns. I will “sweat through” the fear of intimacy issue until I get through ro the other side. I love you all!
For a long time, I have wondered why I am the way I am. This article was a slap in the face (a good one, I guess).
What really hit me was how a fantasy is more appealing than the actual thing. What I have done for years when I begin to like someone is become obsessed with what could be, then, when that person expresses interest in me, I become sickeningly scared and pull away. This has prevented me from having ANY relationship.
I’m scared I’ll never get over this- intimacy is my crippling fear, and I don’t understand where this fear stems from.
It stems from your Childhood. I highly recommend you do some soul searching back to those days…..and while sitting quietly, see if any feelings or emotions come up? You’re not alone tho!
This article resonates with how I have been feeling most of my life. However I cannot see a solution in the article.
I fell in ‘love’ with a girl when I was in the 4th grade (~12 years) and was in love with her till I was 18. But that never worked out and she never cared. Since then I never been in a successful relationship. I run away from attractive women in fear and show no intrest In women that are attracted to me. Now I’m having issues finding a ‘soul mate’ or getting married. How can I overcome this challenge?
liked your article. I have a long term friend I have know since 4th grade. After 53 years he calls me. We develope what I think and feel is a great relationship. I go on for 14 months where we talk for hours each week. Then I call during a stressful time and he gets quite mad. I called , wrote emails and finally a letter trying to find out what happend and how we could restart our relationship again. He does not repond at all. Do you have any suggestions on how to get our relationship restarted. I think he may have relationship issues and is afraid of being close. Thanks
I think I’m in the same position. I’ve found someone ,in fact we’ve been friends for a year but fell for each other.but now the problem is me ,can’t seen to open up to him no let him love me I just close up.I don’t know if I feel of being rejected, nor that I’m not good enough or ts in connection with my past relationships.don’t know what to do serious. I really like him and he likes me too. please help.
This has summed up how I ruined the best thing that ever happened to me. I realise now I just pushed the issue out of mind and it feathered untill I became depressed. I withdrew myself and hurt the only woman woman ive ever truly loved. I am so deeply sorry and I know in my heart and mind I’m passed the issue (it took losing everything and counciling) and we could have moved forward together but unfortunately she has lost her feelings for me… She doesn’t want to be with me anymore and theres nothing I can do… I’ve accepted this and although it hurts like hell I just want her to be happy and find what she is looking for.
My fear of intimacy is caused by an Avoidant Attachment Disorder. This in turn causes me a lot of misery because the anxiety shuts down my ability to function sexually in my marriage which has been sexless for many years because of this.
I am currently feeling so lost in myself after a massive relationship fallout. Fear of Intimacy is not something I ever thought about myself but since the end of my relationship I feel like I’m coming apart as a person and this article has raised more questions about myself and my behaviours. I ended the relationship as I felt completely broken dealing with what to me was, unreasonable behaviour. I constantly felt anxious and worried in this relationship, frustrated and sad. I now feel like I’m tearing myself apart with guilt and self criticism, as I try to understand my actions better and take responsibility for the role I played in our failed relationship. These thoughts consume me and I struggle to remember the core reasons I was unhappy. It makes me question if we could in fact work through some of our issues and have a future together.
*feeling enlightened but also totally fucked up
My sexual intimacy anxiety causes sexual dysfunctions but only in a serious relationship. I can function sexually only with strangers, paid sex and masturbating alone.
I’m 43 and have never experienced sexual / romantic intimacy of any kind – not even a kiss. I do not express my desire to women I’m attracted to because my life experience tells me clearly that no woman could have the slightest interest in me that way. The fact is women would be offended by a profoundly unattractive man like me even mentioning it so I don’t.
After spending years trying to find out why I can’t function sexually with my wife and before her pretty much every woman I dated, I was finally told that it was caused by intimacy anxiety stemming from childhood trauma and being the child of an alcoholic. My father was a nasty violent drunk and he and my mother argued constantly and often it got physical. One Therapist also suggested I was suffering from a Dismissive/Avoidant Attachment Disorder which prevents me from falling in love and having a normal intimate relationship. I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to have to suffer this anxiety and sexual loneliness.
This was the most beautiful thing ive read all day. Ur such a beautiful soul 💗 u made me smile. Thank u
Women today have really did a complete 180 from the old days which makes meeting a good woman for many of us single guys very difficult nowadays for us, and to think how very easy it was finding love in the past just like our family members did.
This article just explained what I couldn’t put my finger on for so long. I’m in my 30s and have yet to be in a relationship. I sincerely want to be involved, it’s just that part of me becomes fearful if she who catches my eye were to become intensely affectionate towards me as if I could lose something of myself by giving in to her love.
Right now my mom stop talking to me and stop saying my name.
Intimacy requires two people. For intimacy to be authentic, the two people have to be attracted to one another and desire mutual closeness. If paid companionship is illegal, society is basically telling people who cannot attract another person for mutually desired intimacy that they are ineligible for it. I am not (and cannot be) attractive at a sexual / romantic level to any woman – and as such, society deems me disqualified from meeting a basic human need that most other people can fulfill. People like me go through life in [sometimes intense] pain due to intense loneliness. Things that most people take for granted (free hugs, for example) are NOT possible for everyone. I have never paid for sex or intimacy – but have also never had either (not even once) because I simply cannot attract any woman other than as a friend (and I have many women friends – none of whom are romantically attracted to me). Not everyone who pays is cheating on a partner – not everyone who is cheating even has a partner. Some of us have no chance of ever attracting a partner who wants to be with us at a sexual level no matter what we do. This is a fact.
I have avoidant attachment disorder and have been badly hurt by every relationship I’ve had with a female since the age of 10. 80% of the time I don’t even initiate anything; the girl/woman takes it upon herself to insult and bully me. I’ve become very good at ignoring them. If I ever try to initiate something I sabotage it eventually. I just torpedoed the best relationship I’ve ever had because we were getting too close. But it’s for the best. Better to break up now than to get married and have her find out I don’t want to have sex, I don’t want to sleep together, I don’t want to cuddle, I don’t want to be together 24/7, and my innermost feelings are none of her business. I’ve just now decided to never initiate a friendship with a woman ever again. It’s not fair to them or me.
I am at a point in my life that I’m depressed about thinking wether I’m not a good looking person who guys can walk up to and ask out .. my younger sisters are having love lives to the extent that one of them is always on about the guy … And I’m sitting there wondering what’s wrong with me.. I’m I old already… And the worst part of it is that I use my mental self defense all the time
I don’t allow myself to like someone for the fear that the person will see me as a boring type or not PDA type or someone that doesn’t feel at ease.. I have liked someone before but I was shut down when I told him about how I felt and he told me to my face that I didn’t flirt with him at all so… He can’t accept me. Since then I’ve been a no way near dating lady… I’m 24 for God’s sake. I’m I too old to say I’ve not had my first kiss or anything yet…???
I found this article really helpful, and many of the comments very moving. My own experience was a fear of intimacy which I came to realise was based on an irrational feeling of not being loveable. I did bits and pieces of therapy over the years but finally spent some time in Jungian psychoanalysis. This seems to have worked for me, in that it helped me to uncover the deep rooted feelings of unworthiness, and to feel sympathy for the little child who had felt that, and finally to be kind to myself and recognise that I am worthy of love. After divorce, I still feel a bit wary of new relationships, but I am much better at checking my flight instincts and at managing to take at face value people’s appreciation of me. Work in progress – but one thing is certain to me : it is possible to reduce your fear of intimacy if you address the underlying self-love problems.