Dealing With Fear of Intimacy

Fear of intimacy, though often cloaked behind various masks of independence, elusiveness, or disinterest, is a significant force behind many relationship challenges.  It can be hidden in different ways, people will act independent or even disinterested to throw you off. As adults navigate the complexities of modern relationships, a lfear of closeness can sabotage authentic connections and lead to psychological stress and anxiety. Let’s explore the origin of this fear and its manifestations in adult relationships.

What is Fear of Intimacy?

Fear of intimacy refers to an apprehension or anxiety about allowing yourself to be close to another person, often due to concerns about vulnerability and the potential for you to get hurt. This fear can manifest in various aspects of a person’s life, including romantic relationships, friendships, and even family ties. It’s not limited to physical intimacy; it can also involve emotional or even intellectual closeness.

Origins of Fear of Intimacy

Fear of intimacy is a complex issue with a lot of factors.  Some of the factors include:

  1. Childhood Trauma or Neglect: One of the most common roots of intimacy issues is a traumatic upbringing. Individuals who were neglected, abused, or did not have secure attachments in their formative years can struggle with trust and closeness in adulthood.  An example is Disrupted Attachment Patterns.  Childhood is a crucial period for developing attachment styles based on interactions with primary caregivers. Traumatic experiences, such as neglect or abuse, can lead to insecure attachment styles. Individuals with insecure attachments might fear abandonment, have a heightened sense of distrust, or avoid closeness altogether.



  2. Past Relationship Traumas: Someone who has experienced betrayal, infidelity, or emotional pain from a past relationship might be hesitant or fearful of opening up again.  If the trauma experienced was within the context of an intimate relationship, the individual may come to associate closeness with negative emotions such as pain, betrayal, or loss. This association can act as a deterrent to seeking closeness again.|

    Recognizing and addressing the fear of intimacy due to past relationship trauma often involves introspection, time, and, in many cases, therapeutic intervention. 

  3. Fear of Vulnerability: Being intimate, either emotionally or physically, requires one to be vulnerable. This vulnerability can be terrifying for some, especially if they’ve been hurt in the past when they’ve opened up.



  4. Fear of Abandonment: Some individuals fear that if they allow themselves to become too close or attached to someone, they will eventually be left or abandoned.

  5. Low Self-esteem or Fear of Rejection: A person might feel they are not worthy of love or intimacy, or they might fear being judged, criticized, or rejected if they show their true selves.

Fear of Intimacy Signs in Your Relationship 

  • Sabotaging the Relationship: One of the most apparent signs is the act of sabotaging budding relationships. A person may consciously or subconsciously push their partner away or avoid situations that demand emotional depth.
  • Hot and Cold Behavior – They might be warm and friendly one day and then cold and distant the next day.  You will find this confusing but it seems natural to them.


  • Avoids Deep Conversations: Fear of intimacy can lead to relationships that rarely go beyond the superficial. Conversations might revolve around mundane topics, avoiding deeper emotional or philosophical discussions.


  • Trouble Trusting You: Individuals with intimacy fears often find it hard to trust their partners fully. They might withhold personal information, feelings, or concerns, creating a barrier to genuine understanding.


  • Physical Distance: This fear can also manifest physically. Avoidance of physical affection or intimacy can be signs of underlying emotional hesitations.


  • Defensiveness: When confronted about their feelings or behaviors, they might become defensive, dismissive, or just change the topic.


  • Too Much Independence: A strong need for independence might be masked as resilience, but it can be a sign of fear of relying on someone else emotionally.

Overcoming Fear of Intimacy

For a healthier emotional life and more fulfilling relationships, confronting and working through intimacy fears is crucial.   Overcoming a fear of intimacy is a journey, not a destination. It’s okay to have setbacks, and it’s essential to be patient and compassionate with oneself during the process.


Here are some ways to overcome the fear:


  • Acknowledge the Fear: Acceptance is the first step. Recognizing and admitting that one has a fear of intimacy can be a breakthrough moment.  Denying or suppressing the fear can often make it worse.


  • Build Self-awareness: Reflect on personal history, feelings, and behaviors. Journaling can be a beneficial tool for this. Understanding yourself can help you understand what you are afraid of.  If the fear of intimacy is rooted in past traumas, it’s crucial to address and heal these wounds. This might involve therapy, joining a support group, or finding healing through creative outlets.
  • Open Up Gradually: Vulnerability is a process. It’s okay to take small steps. Start by sharing minor personal details or concerns, gradually working up to more profound revelations.  Sometimes, it’s beneficial to get feedback from trusted friends or partners about behavior. They can provide an outsider’s perspective on progress or areas of improvement.


  • Choose the Right Partners: Surrounding oneself with understanding and patient partners can make the journey easier.  Seeking a good partner is a reflection of an individual’s desire for a stable, supportive, and nurturing relationship. It highlights the significance of emotional intelligence and empathy in romantic partnerships. Such individuals can offer the safe space needed to open up.


  • Practice Vulnerability: While it’s challenging, being open and vulnerable with trusted individuals can help in overcoming the fear.   Sharing vulnerabilities can deepen the emotional bond between people. When you open up about fears, hopes, and dreams, it can help the other person understand and connect with you on a profound level.

    It is okay to set boundaries while being vulnerable. While vulnerability can enrich relationships, it’s also essential for individuals to ensure they’re in a safe and respectful environment before opening up. Not every relationship or situation warrants vulnerability, and individuals should trust their instincts about when and how much to share.


Intimacy Help in Lakewood and Longmont Colorado

Fear of intimacy is not impossible to beat. Through understanding, effort, and support, individuals can learn to embrace vulnerability and enrich their relationships. It’s a journey worth undertaking, for at the heart of human experience lies the desire to connect deeply and authentically with others. Authenticity and deep connections often lead to a greater sense of emotional fulfillment. When people are genuine with one another, they can better understand and meet each other’s emotional needs.

If you are having intimacy problems you probably have questions. This is normal and we would be happy to help you find the answers you seek.  Take a look at our Couples Counseling Specialty Page for more information. Then we invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with a marriage specialist. You can schedule your appointment via phone, or the contact page on our website.  We look forward to hearing from you.
Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.