People often pin the failure of a relationship on a fear of intimacy. But what does this actually mean?
Fear of intimacy is often mistaken for the inability to be close to a romantic or sexual partner.
However, a fear of intimacy is actually a social phobia and anxiety disorder where you are afraid of being close to another human being – be it a partner, friend or family member.
Defining a fear of intimacy is one thing, but working out if you suffer from it is harder. If you relate to the 5 signs below then you could have a fear of intimacy.
1. You’re a workaholic.
You’re the first one into the office and the last one to leave. You eat lunch at your desk and you’re still checking your emails at weekend. If this sounds familiar, then you could be living with a fear of intimacy.
Workaholics are very good at avoiding getting close to anyone, using the excuse that they simply don’t have time. Why not try making some extra time? Put your phone down and let the people in around you. You never know what you might find.
2. You are overly positive.
You refuse to see the downside of any situation, even when it’s clear that things are difficult to everyone else around you. When someone asks you how your day is, your answer is always ‘great’ – whatever the weather.
Whilst this might sound like an aspirational way of living, it could be a sign that you have a fear of intimacy. You’re masking your true emotions by not acknowledging how you really feel.
If you can’t be honest with yourself or other people, you’ll avoid making true connections or meaningful relationships.
3. You enjoy fleeting relationships.
Whether it’s a new friend or a one night stand, you’ve always preferred short and intense relationships over nurturing long-term connections. It might seem like people envy the exciting ups and downs of living in fast-forward, but in the long-term, this behaviour could also be seen as a fear of intimacy.
If you don’t physically spend time with someone then it is very hard to become close to them. Next time you get the urge to cut ties and find the next exciting person, take a step back and see if it’s worth investing in what you’ve already got.
4. You are known for being extremely picky.
Everyone knows who your ideal partner would be because you’ve reeled off the list of necessary attributes countless times. Knowing your own mind is to be admired, but not if it is preventing you from being open-minded.
Excessive choosiness is commonly a sign of a fear of intimacy, because how are you ever going to meet anyone that ticks every single box?
You’re setting potential partners up for a fail and deep down, you probably know it. Most people in happy relationships will admit that their partner is their exact ‘type’. That’s because when you meet a soul mate, you realise your ‘type’ doesn’t matter at all.
Try and approach life with a receptive attitude, say yes when you might have previously said maybe and you’ll see your world opening up.
5. You’ve pushed people away in the past.
Did your past partners complain that you wouldn’t ‘let them in’ or that they couldn’t feel close to you? If so then maybe it’s worth taking stock and assessing whether you have a fear of intimacy.
It might seem extreme but consider talking to your friends or exes honestly about your past relationships.
Ask them whether they feel you displayed any signs of having a problem with intimacy and talk about how you might work on it together. Be mindful that they may also be struggling with their own intimacy issues and may try to project them onto you.
Be fair to yourself and evaluate their point of view critically whilst hearing what they say.
Working out whether you have a fear of intimacy is, of course, the first step. Next, it’s up to you to work out where these issues come from and how you can work on resolving them. Openness with loved ones will be key throughout this process as will patience with yourself.
Perhaps there is a defining relationship from your childhood that is influencing your fear of intimacy, or perhaps it boils down to self-confidence issues and an acceptance of where you’re at in life. Whatever the root of the issue, there are many resources that can help you move on from your fear of intimacy and open you up to more meaningful relationships.
Remember that you’re not alone and lots of people are struggling with a fear of intimacy. Once you’ve started to work through your issues, try helping others through theirs.
Not only will you feel start to feel happier in yourself, this process will help you build connections with other people and keep intimacy issues at bay.
By Ruth N.