Fear of intimacy is an anxiety disorder in which there is fear of sharing a close emotional or a physical relationship.
Intimate relationships can be of four types:
- Experiential in which people share common activities, interest or experiences together.
- Intellectual in which, there is an exchange of ideas or meaningful discussions between different individuals.
- Emotional in which people share an innermost feeling or form a spiritual connect.
- Sexual in which there is a close sensual relationship.
Those with fear of intimacy deliberately avoid being close or sometimes do not realize this action.
What Causes Fear Of Intimacy?
Fear of intimacy can stem from various causes which include any childhood negative experience or history of abuse or neglect.
Fear of abandonment and engulfment or fear of loss is present in people with the fear of intimacy. Though they are different from one another but have a common behavior of bringing people near and then pushing them away.
Fear of Rejection
Those having a fear of being rejected can develop a fear of being intimate which is why they never take a step toward building a relationship.
Fear of rejection develops if an individual has himself experienced rejection in the past or has seen it happening with someone else.
Fear of Abandonment
Fear of being left when in a relationship is fear of abandonment, which keeps people away from being in intimate relationships. It might develop due to death or separation of a parent or a close adult or due to some childhood experience.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
An avoidant personality disorder is an intimacy anxiety disorder affecting 2.5 percent of the population (1). It affects men and women equally and often starts in childhood.
This disorder runs in families and can occur due to genetic and environmental factors.
Childhood Sexual Abuse
Childhood sexual abuse can lead to fear of intimate emotional or sexual relationships. It can lead to the development of trust in another person.
Such an individual has an inhibited sexual desire, difficulty in being aroused, feeling of anger and disgust or guilt when touched, or inappropriate sexual behavior.
Symptoms of Fear of Intimacy
The symptoms seen in individuals with fear of intimacy are:
- Low self-esteem
- Episodes of anger
- Insatiable sexual desire
- History of unstable relationships
- Avoidance of physical contact
- Trust issues
- Social isolation
- Inability to express emotions or share feelings
Some people just have mild traits while some are just not able to form a close relationship at all.
How Is Fear Of Intimacy Diagnosed?
The condition is evaluated by a psychiatrist or a psychologist who is trained to evaluate anxiety disorder.
A physical examination is conducted first to rule out any physical illness if present.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Intimacy?
Fear of intimacy is a mental health disorder which can lead to isolation. It is therefore very important to come out of it.
Communication is a very important way to overcome this fear. Speak with your partner about the fear and assure him that you really want to overcome it and are seeking medical help for the same.
Define your boundaries, and explain what helps you feel safe and what triggers fear.
There is a certain degree of uncertainty in all relationships. Nobody is perfect, neither you nor your partner.
If someone has ended a relationship with you it does not mean your value as a person is lacking.
Seek Professional Help
- Psychotherapy is the main treatment of personality disorder.
- A medical professional can help you understand the origin of your fear and how to cope with them.
- If you have a partner who has a fear of intimacy make sure you keep the lines of communication open. Be available to listen. It might be painful but for them, but it will help them come out of the fear. Support them in seeking therapy.
Keep in mind coming out of fear is not easy. It takes time and also needs the support of the near ones.