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What is Fear of Intimacy? Causes, Signs, Types and Everything Else You Need to Know

What is Fear of Intimacy? Causes, Signs, Types and Everything Else You Need to Know

Updated on Dec 07, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Fear of Intimacy - Causes, Signs, Types, Impacts and Treatment

So, you’re here to know about your fear of intimacy.

…or your loved ones’ anxiety about it.

I feel sorry about your experiences. But do you know… it’s not a big deal and you’re not alone. You can easily come out of this and the fact that you’re here already says that you are up for the challenge.

I appreciate you stepping up to fix your life… not everyone is as courageous as you.

Your feelings are complicated, you’re drowning in self-doubt… but that’s enough! I promise to answer all of your queries with this think-piece.

You’ll soon know how to help yourself and get back to a healthier life. Believe in yourself and your loved ones, it’ll get better soon. 

So, with hopes of a happy and healthy future, let’s first know…

What is fear of intimacy?

Fear of intimacy is when you feel uncomfortable bonding with loved ones. You may long for intimacy, however, you feel uncomfortable building it. Eventually, you push away your partner.

Intimacy is sharing close emotional or physical connections with others. 

The term intimacy is a derivative of the Latin term “intimus” – meaning innermost. So, intimacy involves your genuine and vulnerable parts with which you build personal relationships.

The fear of intimacy, aka avoidance anxiety or intimacy avoidance, is when you fear such close relationships. It is not a clinical phobia but it still exists.

People with a fear of intimacy might intentionally or subconsciously avoid intimacy. They might actually yearn for intimacy but feel uncomfortable, anxious, or distressed showing vulnerabilities.

So, it’s not that they don’t want or hate intimate relationships. However, they push people away and sabotage relationships.

They might also feel comfortable showing some level of intimacy. However, there’s always a limit to expressing their real self.

Can’t picture it yet? Let’s understand it specifically…

Examples of fear of intimacy

People often mix up intimacy and sex… clearly, fear of intimacy isn’t fear or discomfort with sex alone. Intimacy works in every part of your life.

You can build it with conversations, shared experiences, cuddling, or even while doing chores. So, let’s understand the fears with some ideas…

1. You feel uncomfortable holding hands or being physically close to your loved ones.

2. You don’t discuss your choice of sexual activities, even though the sex is dissatisfying.

3. You don’t share your ideas and fear being ridiculed.

4. You don’t like exchanging words about common experiences. You don’t like to coordinate either and feel comfortable on your own.

5. You don’t like sharing your religious or spiritual beliefs. You prefer being alone during religious practices.

Did the vast ideas make you curious about the types of Intimacy? Come on, let’s find the…

Fear of intimacy types

You may experience intimacy in different ways and forms. Depending on that, the fear of intimacy is also of several types.  

Some may fear only one type of intimacy… for others, it might be a combination. So, let’s find the types here…

1. Fear of Physical Intimacy

If you share a physical (not sexual) bond with someone, that’s physical intimacy. You may connect with hugs, holding hands, affectionate caresses, cuddles, kisses, or even a pat.

When someone feels better without physical contact or prefers not bonding with affectionate touches, they have a fear of physical intimacy.

2. Fear of Emotional Intimacy

When you share your deepest thoughts, opinions, fears, hopes, desires, or emotions… you share emotional intimacy. It’s about your comfort in sharing vulnerable thoughts with others.

You may have a fear of emotional intimacy if you feel unsafe sharing such thoughts.

3. Fear of Experiential Intimacy

This one is when you connect with shared experiences, memories, activities, or mutual interests.

People with experiential intimacy may share inside jokes. They build connections based on the commons.

Feeling uncomfortable sharing past commons may imply you have a fear of experiential intimacy.

4. Fear of Sexual Intimacy

It’s about sharing a deeply sensual connection with another person during sex. People with sexual intimacy connect with their feelings during sexual activities.

If you feel anxious bonding during sex, or feel better having emotionless sex, you may have a fear of sexual intimacy.

5. Fear of Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual intimacy involves sharing your beliefs in nature and/or God. People might share it while worshiping or meditating together. It might not depend on the religious practice itself.

If you feel distressed sharing your spiritual moments with another person, that’s your fear of spiritual intimacy.

6. Fear of Intellectual Intimacy

You share intellectual intimacy when you exchange meaningful discussions and ideas. It’s about valuable information about certain topics.

The other person may not accept your ideas. But there’s no coercion to change your perspectives.

If you fear exchanging such thoughts or being judged for your difference in opinions… you may suffer from a fear of intellectual intimacy.

7. Fear of Coordination Intimacy

This is when you connect with someone with chores. It depends on sharing regular tasks, coordinating with others while doing housework.

If you avoid connecting during daily chores and feel safe staying disconnected… you might have a fear of coordination intimacy.

Want to uproot this fear? Then first, let’s find the roots from…

Fear of intimacy causes

A phobia or fear usually stems from childhood. As a result, they become quite deep-seated in your mind.

There might be a connection with your parents/caregiver, a trusted friend, or a romantic partner from your adolescent years. You carry the life lessons forward and give shape to this fear. Come on, let’s investigate…

1. You experienced childhood trauma

Did you face any traumatic experiences in your childhood? For instance, did your caregivers neglect you when they were angry or sad?

If yes, then that left deep-seated scars in your mind. Avoiding intimacy is your way of protecting your heart from such experiences again.

2. You experienced a bad relationship

Sometimes, romantic relationships shape your psyche and outlook on the world. A bad or failed relationship might develop such fears.

This is a defense mechanism against possible hurt from future romantic encounters.

Possibly, you hoped a lot out of that relationship. However, when it ended, you faced difficulties coping with it.

3. You don’t feel confident

If you think you’re less than others, you’ll naturally lack confidence. Your intimacy issues might stem from a variety of things that led to the loss of confidence.

For instance, you may feel you’re not worthy of love or affection. Perhaps you also fear letting them down with your real personality.

So, you’re afraid of intimacy as you don’t want them to leave you.

4. You’re a sexual abuse victim

In the past, if anyone abused you sexually, you might fear sexual intimacy. The past may flash in front of your eyes and reopen old wounds.

As a result, you may flinch from the slightest physical contact.

Childhood experiences of abuse impact mental health deeply. So, if it happened back in your childhood, seek help from mental health professionals.

5. Your family wasn’t ever affectionate

If nobody expressed love and affection in your family, possibly that’s the definition of your “normal”. Family relationships shape your future self.

If they denied you affection or even looked down on you for needing a hug… that might be your root cause. You fear showing your soft side because of past childhood experiences.

6. You have fear of being exposed

Sometimes people hide their real selves because of uncertainties. They want to mingle with others and feel accepted. They only want to show their positive attributes for that.

Such people avoid intimacy, else everyone might know their other sides. It’s a fear of exposure to their unwanted sides.

People usually do this to feel validated and it then leads to cheating on romantic partners.

7. Someone abandoned you in the past

If a caregiver or parent abandoned you in your childhood, you may have fears of abandonment. It’s a result of deep-seated childhood scars.

You’ll always feel that “If I love this person, he/she will leave me… just like my caregiver”. It might also imply you have avoidant personality disorder… but it’s not a clear sign.

8. You fear losing yourself

Some feel that if they bond with someone intimately, they’ll lose control over their life. In a romantic relationship, they don’t love because they’re afraid of being dominated.

It might have some connection with their family or childhood experiences.

9. You fear showing vulnerabilities

Fear of being taken advantage of is a common cause. You feel that the moment you share sensitive information, someone will use it against you.

You’re paranoid about your secrets and lingering troubles around you. So, you don’t bond with others lest you spill your weaknesses.

10. You fear rejection

Another possible cause is fear of rejection. You possibly long for intimacy, but you don’t feel safe bonding with others. Your fear of rejection starves you of intimacy.

You might only reveal some socially acceptable traits. Usually, you’re afraid of the idea that others will reject your not-so-common self. This one is closely related to the fear of being exposed.

11. You have conflicting thoughts

Sometimes, you might not fear intimacy in general. It might be a sense of discomfort towards intimacy.

Due to relationship issues like unresolved resentment, anger, trust issues, feeling unappreciated, or being hurt… you might face difficulties opening up to your partner.

12. You have communication issues

Communication can be the key to any successful relationship. However, if you lose this key, it leads to major relationship issues.

If you can’t communicate your feelings and desires, you might feel misunderstood. This is another vital reason behind your fear of intimacy.

13. You have social anxiety disorders

Aka social phobia, intimacy anxiety disorder, or avoidant personality disorder. You might fear being touched, judged, or rejected. It impacts men and women equally around their childhood.

You might fear humiliation or be excessively sensitive to criticism. It depends on your genes and your childhood environment.

If you tend to avoid socializing with people because of some fear, you might suffer from this. Naturally, you avoid intimacy to avoid uncomfortable social situations.

14. You have an avoidant attachment style

If your parents or caregivers were unresponsive to your childhood needs… like love, affection, care, and nourishment… it might impact children’s attachment styles.

Usually, children with emotionally unavailable caregivers close themselves down. To please their caregivers, they behave the way their family expects.

They further develop an avoidant attachment style that stems from their fear of intimacy.

15. Your family denied you space

Sometimes, parents are overprotective of their children. They monitor all of their steps and deny them privacy. You might desperately need personal space but can’t do it under their roof.

So, the moment you leave the nest, you shut down completely. You might develop a fear of engulfment which leads to your fear of intimacy.

16. You belong to an enmeshed family

In enmeshed families, there are no strict boundaries. Parents don’t allow children to grow up independently. There’s an unhealthy amount of dependency on one another.

Parents look down on children who don’t spend enough time with their parents. Not always, but this might be another reason behind attachment issues.

17. You lost a parent

Did you lose your parents to death… or got separated from them due to divorce or imprisonment? You might develop a fear of development.

This might become an obstacle in romantic relationships. Or you might suffer from mental health issues like anxiety disorders.

18. You couldn’t depend on anyone

If your parents were ill somehow, and you played their and your siblings’ caregiver… that’s another possible cause.

You never depend on anyone for anything… so you can’t connect with others because you have a giver’s attitude.

19. Your caregiver had mental illness

Medically reviewed research shows… a caregiver’s narcissistic personality disorder results in insecure attachment styles in children.

You might have poor coping mechanisms now, so you avoid intimacy in all possible ways.

20. Your parent was addicted

Addicted parents can’t provide proper care to their children. Again, this leads to unhealthy attachment styles in children.

In adulthood, such children might experience trouble in forming intimate bonds.

Think fear of intimacy only ruins romantic relationships? Get a better idea with this…

Fear of intimacy risks (Fear of Intimacy Impacts)

This fear doesn’t just disturb your romantic relationships. It can ruin your life, get you depressed to the point of becoming an addict. You may lose all of your well-wishers from your life because of it.

You might even slack off in your professional field. Nobody knows how it might affect them, so let’s know the possibilities here…

1. You might have sexless relationships

If you have trouble with physical or sexual intimacy, you’ll never have satisfying sex. In romantic relationships, a lack of dissatisfying sex may deeply impact your relationship dynamics.

Your partner may feel resentful… or you might give up on sex completely. Sex is an important aspect of romantic relationships. So, it might attract more troubles like infidelity, toxic dynamics, or divorce.

2. You might isolate yourself

If you nurture your fear of intimacy, you’ll eventually isolate yourself. You won’t go out of your comfort zone, corner, and alienate yourself from loved ones.

This will obviously result in feelings of loneliness. If it’s the same in romantic relationships, you might destroy it.

3. Others might misunderstand you

When you withdraw from your loved ones… they’ll naturally feel you don’t love or care for them. Misunderstanding, resentment, and negativities arise in relationships.

You might face hostility in your family, friends, or even in the workplace… if your fear of intimacy activates in front of them.

4. You might impact mental health issues

When you push away others, they misunderstand you, and you feel isolated… all of these together might impact your mental health.

You might develop anxiety disorders or depression due to emotional distance from your loved ones.

5. You might never have meaningful relationships

Due to fear of intimacy, you can’t bond with your romantic partners. They may eventually leave the dissatisfying relationship. So, you might experience more short-term relationships.

Your relationships never deepen or grow into meaningful ones. Eventually, you never learn the meaning of a relationship.

6. You might get serial dating addiction

With time, you get more used to short-term relationships. You only experience the infatuation or honeymoon phase in these relationships. When the rose-tinted glasses fall, you hate your partner.

In the end, you become a serial-dater and date for the thrill and chase. You may even become commitment-phobic.

7. You might sabotage relationships

It’s not just romantic ones… you may ruin perfect friendships or family relationships due to your fears.

You refuse the basic necessities to bond with your close ones. They slowly distance themselves from you. You might even end long-term relationships.

8. You might abuse substance

Your fear of intimacy doesn’t imply you don’t long for it. Rather, you know it harms you but can’t help yourself.

Further, the lack of intimacy pains you. Many people pick on addiction to forget about the pain… which only harms your life further.

9. You might impact your life quality

Human beings are social creatures… so socializing isn’t an option or a leisurely activity. It helps you build emotional connections with your loved ones.

Due to your fears, you miss out on many chances at happiness. Your life becomes grey… you deny yourself the abundant possibilities and opportunities to build a beautiful life.

10. You might fall ill

Affectionate physical contact like hugs, kisses, caress, and cuddles boosts oxytocin (feel-good hormone) production and minimizes cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

Without physical and sexual intimacy, you become more vulnerable to stress. It results in chronic diseases, weakened immunity, and a disturbed sleep cycle.

Further, you become prone to ailments and your recovery rate falls.

Anxious about having this fear? Let’s check from here…

Fear of Intimacy Symptoms

Do you suspect you have a fear of intimacy? Usually, it’s not easy to diagnose it by yourself. However, all sufferers have some common experiences. Outsiders don’t notice such feelings… only you can observe them. Let’s know if you experience any of these…

1. Have trust issues

2. Lack of confidence and self-esteem

3. Feel anger episodes

4. Feel uncomfortable with s contact

5. Fear or feel distressed committing to relationships

6. Feel anxious sharing your feelings

7. Isolate yourself from others even though they haven’t done anything remotely wrong

8. Feel dissatisfied with your sex life

9. Stall serious conversations with jokes

10. Can’t communicate in your relationship

11. Feel uneasy listening to your partner

12. Hide your life goals

13. Don’t wanna know about your partner’s emotions

14. Suppress your adventurous side in all relationships

15. Hide your painful past from loved ones

 Perhaps, it’s not you but a loved one? To make sure, notice if you observed any of these…

Fear of intimacy signs

If you suspect a loved one has a fear of intimacy, then you won’t feel the symptoms. You may observe certain things about them. You or other people might label them something for their attitude.

However, if it’s you, others might observe certain signs in you. Now, let’s check if you ever heard or said any of these…

1. They’re a perfectionist

If someone is afraid of intimacy, they believe they must become a perfect human being. Otherwise, they’re not worthy of deep emotional connections or love.

They feel that love is a payment for being perfect and follow it.

2. They’re into serial dating

If someone has super short relationships… doesn’t wait before moving on to the next one… they might have a fear of intimacy. When their partner tries to bond with them, they run for the hills.

In urban language, some call them commitment-phobic. They always look for a new relationship because they can’t handle intimacy.

3. They don’t express themselves clearly

If your loved one fears intimacy, sometimes you won’t understand them. They puzzle you with unclear or mixed signals.

You can’t understand what they need from you. You try to figure things out but it backfires… instead of sharing the important stuff, they’ll shut themselves down.

4. They avoid physical contact

A person fearing intimacy may flinch from physical contact. They may express feelings of disgust or discomfort.

Obviously, such reactions will hurt you. You may feel discouraged from physical contact altogether.

5. They’re paranoid

Some people who fear intimacy – due to fear of retaliation – are paranoid. They’re always alert for possible harm lingering around them. They might behave quite secretively and cautiously.

You might even suspect that they did something wrong… otherwise, why are they so on guard?

6. They avoid emotional interactions

When you try to share deep, emotional thoughts… Do they listen to you? If they show disinterest or frequently change the topic, that’s a red flag. They’re afraid of emotional proximity.

Even if you bring up this topic… all because you care for them… they’ll misunderstand you or push you away.

7. They distance themselves from romance

In romantic relationships, such people draw a rigid line. This usually happens when the relationship grows older and intensifies. They might even avoid eye contact or holding hands.

Their romantic relationships might lack romance. If you begin talking in bed about your future… they might leave you to sleep on the couch.

8. They lack important social connections

As they can’t commit to romantic relationships… their friendships might follow suit. They keep their friends at an arm’s length. This might have some connection with their paranoia.

They can’t hold deep conversations about their thoughts and ideas with friends. So, their platonic relationships never develop into deep lifetime bonds.

9. They always retreat before the best part

Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a platonic one, or even in their workplace… they take the worst decisions before their success.

They’ll break up with a romantic partner, end their friendship with true friends… and even refuse the promotion they worked hard for.

They feel they don’t deserve it so they completely withdraw themselves from great opportunities. It’s usually due to a lack of confidence and self-esteem.

10. They’re a workaholic

Sometimes, you or others call them workaholics. Usually, it’s never because they love their job. Rather, they use their job as an excuse to avoid intimacy.

Whenever you’ll reach out to them about something important… they’ll push back the conversation because they’re busy with work. They’re almost married to their job. 

11. They’re defensive

Another alarming sign is defensiveness. People who avoid intimacy due to their fear of rejection or humiliation… are very sensitive to criticism.

If you even jokingly or sarcastically pass a remark, that might be the end of the relationship. Perhaps people usually say “Can’t you take a joke?” but they never learn.

They take every small joke personally and ruin the atmosphere.

12. They never focus on you

When you start talking about relationship issues, they don’t listen. They’re present physically, looking at you, nodding at your thoughts… but they can’t hold a conversation.

You may live together but they hardly talk to you.

13. They avoid tangling their social circles

They prefer keeping their loved ones separate. They’ll not introduce their partner to their friends and family.

The reason? They don’t want their partner to know about their embarrassing past. Or, they don’t want their relatives and friends to know about how you are as a romantic partner.

14. They have a history of bad relationships

A person afraid of intimacy might have a string of painful relationships. Possibly, the partners weren’t bad… however, they might refer to them as bad ones.

Generally, at some point, the relationships become serious and their partner yearns for intimacy. But they feel insecure about such bonds.

So, every time they feel that their partners don’t respect them… or, that they’re not on the same page. They end their relationship for the same reasons repeatedly.

15. They never ask about your feelings

They’ll never try to reach out to you when you’re emotionally drained or troubled. They hardly express any concern to their loved ones.

Their lack of communication skills and understanding of others’ feelings are hurdles to their emotions. It is also because they know they can’t hold intimate conversations.

Wondering how to make sure about the suspicions? Let’s know from here…

Fear of intimacy diagnosis

Though not a recognized phobia, clinicians refer to DSM-5 to diagnose the Fear of Intimacy. Experts also use psychometric testing with the Fear of Intimacy Scale.

Fear of intimacy didn’t gain clinical recognition yet. However, it might stem from several fears (check the causes).

Experts refer to the American Psychiatric Association’s recommended DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition) to diagnose any fear.

So, experts use a spectrum to diagnose this phobia – called the Fear of Intimacy Scale. There are 35 questions in this diagnosis. The scale has a minimum score of 35 for mildest traits and a maximum of 175 which implies extreme fear.

With psychometric testing, therapists observe whether the traits are mild or excessive.

Alongside they also test for other mental health issues like anxiety disorders or avoidant personality disorders.

And that’s not all, it’s also possible to treat it. Let’s know more about it here…

Fear of intimacy treatment

Only psychotherapy can help you overcome the fear of intimacy. Professionals design a coping mechanism for your traumas to get over it. However, finding the perfect therapist is challenging and time-consuming.

If you suspect you or a loved one has a fear of intimacy, always consider medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Since the fear is deeply enmeshed with your past, choose a specialist you can trust. You might not find the perfect professional at one go… so don’t lose motivation, and continue the search.

A compatible therapist or psychologist will draw out your history. They’ll help you make peace with your past with psychotherapy.

They’ll also design a coping mechanism to combat this fear. However, if you suffer from other mental health issues or substance addiction, they’ll also guide you in that.

Wondering what else you can do? Come on, let’s find more help here…

How to cope with fear of intimacy? (How to overcome fear of intimacy)

This is a long and hard battle… Your counselor’s help alone might not suffice. So, other than following your counselor’s prescribed routine, take small steps in your relationship.

Remember, don’t force yourself, make genuine efforts, and you’ll soon get better. Come on, let’s get back to work…

1. Stop running from problems

You’ll always have problems in your life. Nobody has guaranteed happiness in their life. Someone or the other will always judge you. You’ll always have small fights in relationships.

Your perspectives won’t always match. So, embrace this chaos and live with it confidently. Even if there’s some uncertainty, so what?

If you’re wrong, try to improve yourself. You don’t need others’ validation if you’re right.

2. Accept yourself down to your bones

Guess who’s your greatest hater? You! You always obstruct your life during crucial moments with second-guessing. Possibly, you lost the best opportunities in life because you felt unconfident.

Accept yourself however you are. Perhaps, there’s someone better than you… that doesn’t imply you don’t deserve that opportunity.

Even if this world rejects you, so long you believe in yourself… everything will work out.

3. Honestly assess your past

Let’s dive into your history for a moment. People usually deny their parents’ ill impacts on their life.

Perhaps, your parents’ behavior negatively affected you… but you lied to yourself “They did it for my betterment” or “They really didn’t mean it… it was the situation.”

Perhaps it was a mistake… However, before you defend your parents, recover your spirits. Begin showing empathy with yourself.

While your caregiver said something mean… your friends and partner always believed in you. They didn’t lie so focus on your cheerleaders.

4. Down talk your inner critic

A voice in your mind always trash-talks you? You’re not alone… it will be better if you learn to deal with it. Whenever your inner critic talks you down, return them the favor.

If it says “Don’t love them… they’ll leave you like your parents.” Tell them “They aren’t my parents, so why assume?” Whenever this voice creeps in, channel your focus to something you like.

5. Focus on your goals, not the pace

What’s your goal at the end of this journey? Better relationships in life? Abundant confidence to improve life… whatever it might be, stay focussed and don’t lose motivation.

Complete this journey at your own speed. Don’t rush it. else you might hurt yourself again. You can’t deal with this fear overnight.., so take more time, but stay true to this journey.

6. Don’t expect too much from others

Your behavior hurts your loved ones deeply. You denied them intimacy time and again. they possibly withdrew from your life too. So, don’t hope for them to react as enthusiastically as before.

To cope with your intimacy issues, reach out and try bonding with them. Obviously, overcoming the fear of intimacy isn’t a joke. But you’ll never turn the tables unless you try.

Make your loved ones understand that you’re working on it.

7. Practice being emotionally present

When your partner shares their feelings, do you withdraw yourself from them? Though you can’t make it overnight, change this habit.

Whenever you withdraw, your partner feels more anxious and desperate. They may overwhelm you with their deep emotions. If you don’t want that, try to connect emotionally.  

Deal with any emotional situation with simple reciprocation of feelings.

8. Slowly unfurl your heart

Currently, who is the most important to you? If you have a partner and children, it must be them.

Otherwise, it may be friends or family. Since they’re important to you, express your fears to them.

Let them know what bothers you, why withdraw yourself, and wait for their reply. If they love you back, they’ll support your journey with their all.

However, if someone looks down on you for this, know you’ll fare better in life without them.

9. Build intimacy in different ways

If you’re afraid of sexual or physical intimacy, don’t hurry in that field. While you cope with those, bond with your partner in simpler ways. For instance, spend more time coordinating with them.

Go out on friendly dates, watch shows together, play a game, take turns making coffee for one another.

There are multiple ways to build intimacy… so for the fear of one, don’t neglect the other ones.

10. Believe in your cheerleaders

If your mother said “You’re a shame to my name” or “You’re ugly”… she’s your parent but not THE CHEERLEADER.

Until now, did anyone tell you, “Follow your heart, I believe you.”? Never let go if you find them and believe in them. If you have a rough time understanding their faith, ask them.

Know how they’re so confident about you… you’ll find your wonderful parts soon.

However, if it’s your partner, be more vigilant while supporting them. So, let’s find out…

How to deal with your partner who is suffering from fear of intimacy?

If your partner suffers from fear of intimacy, it’s also tough on you. You can’t keep up with their thoughts and are always on the verge of blowing up.

However, for your partner’s wellbeing, calm yourself and think more rationally. Show your brimming love and support with these…

1. Share more time

Bond with your partner regularly with conversations, activities, shared interests, and experiences. Schedule fun dates instead of romantic ones.

Focus on making them laugh and when you achieve that, remind them you love them. Your partner is scared of intimacy, so keep that off the table while they undergo therapy.

If your partner finds happiness in your presence, intimacy will soon follow suit.

2. Do some fieldwork together

Share this think-piece with your partner and understand their feelings. Talk to your partner’s counselor together.

Also, reach out to online support groups for people with this phobia. Find additional information about other sufferers dealing with this.

Do the investigation together to fight it better. Look up online videos and podcasts to gather more info to hunt the roots. During the research, understand your partner’s needs better.

3. Refrain from judging

Therapy won’t change your partner’s feelings overnight. If the feeling is deep-seated, they’ll distance themselves from time to time. They won’t respond to your help and even go back to old dynamics.

At times, you’ll feel miserable and want to give up. You might even get angry at your partner for not responding.

Remember anger won’t help you work things out. Rather your partner will shut down even more so refrain from it.

4. Redirect them to the positives

Focus on your partner’s good sides when they’re down. While they undergo therapy, they’ll express their thoughts at times. They’ll also share past trauma, so tell them if they were a victim.

Let them know that it wasn’t their fault. Lay down the truth on the table and help them understand. However, don’t overdo it, otherwise, they’ll grow dependent on you.

Remember, your partner needs to be confident independently.

5. Allow them a safe space

When your partner feels overwhelmed, they’ll push you away. You both might feel that’s what they want… However, fears of abandonment and rejection also play out.

They want to get close to you… but they fear being controlled. To tackle the contradicting thoughts, don’t react.

Let them have their personal space. Don’t distance yourself from them either.

Be as natural as before their fears kicked in. With actions, show them you’ll support them throughout.

Wondering who’s more vulnerable to this fear? Let’s know it all here…

Who has the most risk of developing fear of intimacy?

Some people are more prone to develop fear of intimacy. Generally, it depends on how they were hurt in the past. Unfortunate children don’t get the childhood they deserve.

They grow up too fast for their age and bear lots of hurtful feelings from a tender age. Let’s know if there are any in your vicinity with these…

1. People with insecure attachment styles

In your childhood, if you always second-guessed your parents’ feelings towards you, you have an anxious attachment style. You might exhibit similar feelings in your adulthood relationships.

However, if you thought nobody other than you can understand you… and didn’t seek others when you needed them, you have an avoidant attachment style. You may withdraw from others even in your adulthood.

Lastly, if you avoided your loved ones because you suspected they might not suffice your needs… you have a disorganized attachment style.

2. People who received conditional love

This is if your caregiver made you work hard to receive love and attention.

If you didn’t fulfill their expectations, did your parents behave emotionally unavailable, passive-aggressive, or simply emotionless?

Then you received conditional love and are more prone to this phobia.

3. People who were hurt by loved ones

In your childhood, did anybody betray you? Did anyone hurt you so much that your chest still aches? The human brain takes lessons consciously or subconsciously from incidents.

You might still remember the pain from a past relationship – with an adult, friend, or romantic interest.

Based on your experiences, you may judge prospective relationships and shut yourself down.

4. Abuse victims

Did you face physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse in your childhood? Then the past trauma may still linger in your mind. Respective forms of intimacy may trigger past pain.

You might also fear criticism or being abused. You may also have difficulties showing your vulnerabilities.

5. Childhood neglect victims

If your parents neglected you in your childhood, you possibly tended to yourself. You may believe that if your parents can’t, then nobody can. So, you don’t depend on anyone else either.

Eventually, you may also face difficulties trusting or depending on romantic partners.

Want a quick diagnosis for fear of intimacy? Let’s check it out here…

Fear of intimacy quiz

Modern life is busy so you or your partner might not have much time. Can’t check the signs and symptoms, but still wanna make sure?

No hard feelings… because I totally relate with you. So, to save your time, I got this fear of intimacy test. Come on, let’s give it a try…

1. How much do you trust your partner?

A. Not much

B. So so

C. A lot

2. What do you think about communicating your feelings to your partner?

A. I can’t. This thought is uncomfortable. Keeping to myself is much easier.

B. It’s okay mostly. However, at times, I do face trouble expressing myself.

C. I’m completely transparent with my partner. I always communicate when I have a lot on my mind.

3. Sometimes, do you feel extremely angry and shut yourself down without a reason?

A. This happens regularly. I feel safer that way.

B. Sometimes, I do. However, I get back on track after I take some space.

C. No, it’s always reasonable.

4. What do you feel about physical contact?

A. I hate sexual or affectionate contact. I don’t feel good about it and feel safer without it.

B. I don’t like too much physical contact. I’m fine with limited contact.

C. I don’t mind it at all. I feel more loved with it.

5. Have you ever imposed isolation on yourself?

A. Yes, this happened frequently.

B. I like spending time with people. But I do take space to enjoy me-time.

C. I never experienced such feelings.

6. How were your past relationships?

A. I experienced many bad relationships. Broke up because they always became clingy.

B. I experienced mostly okay-ish relationships… nothing crazy. Ended it for normal reasons.

C. There weren’t too many. However, they were long-term and stable.

7. Do you 1. Suppress your sexual needs, 2. Can’t get aroused easily, or 3. Never feel sexually satisfied?

A. I do

B. Sometimes, but with communication, everything gets better

C. I don’t

8. Are you afraid of your partner rejecting or abandoning you?

A. Such fears always linger on my mind

B. Sometimes… but my partner helps me snap back to reality

C. Such thoughts never crossed my mind.

9. Do you have difficulties having or sustaining relationships?

A. I do

B. It’s always awkward in the beginning. I warm up with time.

C. I don’t

10. What do you think about your capabilities and others’ thoughts towards you?

A. I frequently doubt myself and my connections with others. I don’t think I deserve such good people.

B. I believe in myself, but sometimes doubt others.

C. I’m confident and satisfied with myself and my relationships.

If you mostly answered A

You have a fear of intimacy and must find a therapist ASAP. You can’t be vulnerable to your partner and have issues in a sexual relationship. Your responses in your relationship depend on childhood trauma.

If you mostly answered B

Avoiding intimacy isn’t regular in your life. However, you do avoid it sometimes… yet there’s no impact on your relationship. You developed trust issues from childhood disappointments. But you’re aware that your past and present aren’t the same.

If you mostly answered C

You’re perfectly healthy and have no intimacy issues. You comfortably show your genuine character to your partner. They know about your fears, hopes, desires, and even conflicting opinions. Whenever you face trouble with intimacy… remember how much your partner loves and cares for you.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Fear of intimacy always impacts relationships. However, don’t sit back and wait for things to get worse. Whether it’s you or a loved one, speak up about the issue and get professional aid.

If it’s your partner, they might not listen to you initially. This might upset you, but don’t express your anger. Though your partner pushes you away, they also fear you leaving them. 

Don’t feed fuel to this fear and stand beside them. However, don’t neglect yourself during this journey either. Only if you’re mentally and physically healthy, you’ll support your partner endlessly. 

Remember, if you tilt an empty cup over another empty one… both cups will stay empty.