Fear of Intimacy? Do I Have It? — How to Deal With It?

Written by: Maheen Asif – M.Sc (Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : January 02 , 2023

Do you believe you suffer from a fear of intimacy or intimacy avoidance? If the idea of sharing everything makes you uncomfortable or if you push people away, you may have an intimacy disorder.

People who have a fear of intimacy still need other people. But they are more afraid of rejection and getting hurt.  This means that even though they need social interaction, they end a relationship before they get hurt. As a safety measure, they keep their distance.

However, intimacy avoidance limits your life. It can affect your relationships and how you feel about yourself, and how you see yourself. If you are tired of it, you can change the situation. You have what it takes to start having happy, healthy relationships.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Intimacy?

It means being able to share your true self with another person. It also means feeling close to and connected to someone. Some describe different kinds of closeness, such as:
  • Intellectual: The ability to talk to someone about your thoughts and ideas.
  • Emotional: The ability to tell someone how you really feel
  • Sexual: The ability to sexually share yourself
  • Experiential: The ability to share one’s experiences with another
  • Spiritual intimacy: the ability to share beliefs in a higher power or connectedness to others and the world.
Fear of intimacy can involve one or more of these types of closeness to varying degrees.

Chapter 2:

What Is Fear Of Intimacy?

People often don’t realize they have a fear of intimacy, which makes it hard for them to make or keep close relationships. They don’t do it on purpose, but they turn down love. Instead, they may act in ways that make a relationship stressful and end it quickly before it has a chance to get closer. This has an effect not only on romantic relationships but also on friendships and family ties.

Chapter 3:

What Are the Causes?

A fear of intimacy is often due to not being able to trust parents and other caregivers as a child, which can lead to problems with attachment. Some things that might make you more likely to fear intimacy are:

Enmeshed Families

Even though enmeshed families may seem loving and supportive at first glance, roles and boundaries may become unclear, which can cause problems with attachment, independence, and intimacy.

Emotional Neglect

Parents who are there physically but not emotionally show their kids that they shouldn’t depend or trust on their parents

Loss Of A Parent

People who have lost a parent through death, divorce, or jail may feel abandoned and may find it harder to form romantic relationships as adults. Studies have found that a fear of intimacy can cause mental health problems and anxiety in romantic relationships

Parental Illness
When a parent is sick, it can feel like you can’t count on anyone but yourself, especially if you have to switch roles or “play parent” and take care of other siblings at a young age.

Parental Mental Illness

Parent’s mental illness, like narcissistic personality disorder, can affect how a child forms attachments, which can lead to insecure attachments and bad ways to deal with problems as an adult.

Parents Drug Use

Problems with drugs can make it hard for parents to give consistent care, which can make it hard for children to form attachments.

Sexual Or Physical Abuse

Childhood abuse can make it harder for an adult to build emotional and sexual connections.

Verbal Abuse

Children who are emotionally abused as children may grow up to be adults who are afraid of being laughed at or verbally abused if they share anything with others. This can make it hard for them to share and be vulnerable with other people in relationships.

Even though the focus is mostly on childhood, a person’s relationship experiences in adolescence and adulthood can still affect how open they are to intimacy.

Chapter 4:

Signs Of Fear Intimacy

There are a few signs that you or someone you know might have intimacy avoidance. Here are some things you signs you should look out for:
Trying To Ruin Relationships
If someone is scared of getting close to other people, they may hurt their relationships with them. Some people might not keep relationships going, stay away from fights, or avoid getting emotionally close to the other person. Others may have strong reactions to situations, like being controlling or too critical, blaming their partner for how they feel, or being too attached.

A History Of Short Relationships

Some people might call someone like this a “serial dater” if, after a few dates, they seem to lose interest and the relationship ends. This could also mean that someone has a lot of friends, but none of them really know them.

Perfectionists can have trouble getting close to people. They have high standards for themselves and sometimes for others as well. They care a lot about what other people think of them. Also, they may think that their partners have too high of hopes for the relationship, which can make them angry and cause fights.

Chapter 5:

How To Deal With Intimacy Avoidance?

Relationships aren’t easy, and fear of intimacy is more common than you expect, even though many people wouldn’t admit it.

Create A Safe Space

If someone is afraid to get close, they might do things that push their partner away. They might give up or leave. Try not to let it bother you. Sometimes, it’s easier for them to act in ways they’ve done before. They might need some time and space. Try not to get angry or upset, but instead be patient and helpful.

Face Your Fears And Feelings

At first, this will be hard, but it’s important to start talking about how you feel and what you’re afraid of. Don’t say what you think you should say but what you really feel. Using feeling words can help you say what you want to say.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a fear of intimacy, learn how to tell them gently what you think they’re feeling and why you think they’re feeling that way. This could help them pay more attention to how they feel.
Look Into Your Past
One important step in making close friends is to think about how you got along with your family when you were young. If we don’t understand and deal with our past, we’ll keep doing the things that made us afraid in the first place.


Therapy can give you a safe place to talk about problems and figure out how to deal with them. A therapist can help you figure out why you act the way you do and teach you ways to deal with your feelings. There are many types of helpful therapies, such as talk therapy or psychotherapy, marriage counselling, and cognitive therapy.

Give Yourself Time

It takes time to get over an Intimacy avoidance. Even if you think you’re making progress, you will still have setbacks. When this happens, you should be kind to yourself and forgive yourself.

Try not to think of your fear as a weakness. Instead, try to see it as something that probably happened a long time ago and that you can work through to make your future better.

In summary, Actions that come from a fear of intimacy only make the worry worse. But with effort and especially with the help of a good therapist, many people have gotten over their fear and learned the knowledge and skills they need to have long-term, close relationships.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to learn how you can make the best of your life, check out our range of online self-help courses by clicking “Courses” on the navigation bar.

"Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful" Donna

87 sections

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  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount