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Fear of Intimacy



Fear of Intimacy
How to Overcome Anxiety & Fear in Relationships

© Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

Dec 3, 2006
Overcoming Fear of Intimacy, Stock xchange
Is your relationship hampered by emotional walls & barriers, secrets & long silences? Fear of intimacy is common in adults, especially if you've been scarred in the past.

Fear of intimacy is the exact opposite of the close relationship you had with your best friend when you were a kid. You may be lucky enough to have a best friend now, but the depth and scope of those childhood friendships may seem unbeatable because you shared all your secrets. Fear of intimacy -- hiding behind emotional walls and barriers -- wasn't usually an issue. Overcoming fear of intimacy and anxiety wasn't even on the radar screen.

Fear of intimacy is definitely a grown up problem.

Fear of intimacy involves the reluctance to open up and reveal your true self, perhaps because you've been hurt in the past. Or, if you grew up in an emotionally and socially closed environment and never learned how to be vulnerable to either friends or lovers, you may have a hard time opening up now. This is fear of intimacy. We've all been betrayed and hurt by loved ones in big and small ways – a thousand tiny betrayals. Regardless of the pain was accidentally or deliberately caused, we’re naturally reluctant to open ourselves up again. Not wanting to get hurt can lead to an extreme fear of intimacy.

Personality characteristics such as introversion and extroversion can also contribute to fear of intimacy issues, and so can depression and anxiety.

Fear of intimacy is different than fear of commitment. You can be married and not know your partner emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. In fact, loneliness in marriage is more difficult than being lonely as a single person or widow. Marital loneliness springs from fear of intimacy in one or both partners.

The strongest foundation of an intimate partnership is a good friendship. Whether you're friends or lovers (or both) there are three elements of a strong, healthy relationship: authenticity, communication, and honesty. These three elements can lower fear of intimacy.
Three elements that reduce fear of intimacy:

1. Authenticity: your feelings match your words and actions. If you feel angry or betrayed, you express yourself with words and behavior (remember that 90% of communication is nonverbal, which means that even if you don’t speak your feelings, your actions will likely reveal them). Try sentences such as "I feel sad because I hoped to see you there," or "I'm angry and frustrated because I was relying on you to take the garbage out, and now the garbage truck won't be back for another week." Instead of hiding behind fear of intimacy, step out and reveal yourself. You'll feel vulnerable and afraid - there's no getting around that!
2. Communication: Mutual self-disclosure occurs when the two of you share your personal and everyday experiences. You open up at the same level; for instance, you both discuss experiences of being betrayed in the past – or neither of you shares it. You meet each other at the same level in terms of the amount and type of personal experiences and thoughts you disclose. If mutual self-disclosure doesn’t happen, then you’re in an unbalanced relationship. One partner has opened their heart, while the other has hidden it away. This is fear of intimacy that can be reduced simply by talking about it.
3. Honesty: You talk about what's going on in your life, how you really feel and what you really think. You reveal what’s important to you, which builds trust in your relationship. You don’t play games, such as expecting your partner to read your mind or dropping hints instead of saying what you really mean. You may still have a fear of intimacy, but you're honest about it.

The longer fear of intimacy festers, the worse it gets - and the more difficult it is to overcome. Now's the time to face your fear of intimacy and embark on a bigger, deeper life!


Active member
Feb 16, 2009
Hmm i can relate to this!

to be honest i can on many levels...

me and my GF when we first met were like kids and very close..and in love...but love as they say...is blind and there eventualy was underlying problems eventually leading to a split...and a shattering of expectations.

Now we are back together and there are wounds..the level of intimacy is somewhat false in some way..i have tried to explore them and become honest..but my GF isnt interested in doing that!

I spoke in one thread about lonliness and depression...and its quite an interesting subject...i deffinatly think im lonly in my relationship because although i have many problems..i am very good at listening to others...one of the charateristics of those who are depressed/anxious etc....they have levels of resilience that exceed that of those who dont.....in short our coping levels and problem solving "highly structured" behavious are well formed!....my GF doesnt have these skills and frequently pushes my conversations to one side, changes the subject or turns away...as if its too much!..when to me...its the norm!

hence we are devided...i guess i have a desire to be heard...as much as i listen myself!...its rare to be heard back in the same way...as a result i have paid particular attention to listening to the plight of others!

a realtionship based on a set of outmoded beliefs values and an attachment to a past time of child-like love....like trying to re-live a memory in the vain hope of re-occurance!..this is what keeps me there!



I think this is where the honesty comes in, if a relationship os one sided, or one of the party is not interested in what you have to say, then of course it is going to feel lonely, your GF does not because has has your full attention but this is not reciprocated, if her behavioiur hurts you or makes you feel left out of the relationship then you should be honest with her about it. I no it is easier said that done, I argue with myself all the time about whether being totally honest is the best thing to do,, but i think if it is done in an adult way then it does help things.
I am just learning these things becasue I have a deep fear of intimacy and also found the article interesting and have started to put things into practise rather than just freezing and running away.
anyway, I digress, if you feel lonely then you must be honest about it, or it will never change either way.
Take acare and best wishes.


Active member
Feb 16, 2009
hi saffron

in studying emotional intelligence, we speak of emotional honesty...and you have made important reference to being too honest!

I have learnt that the skil comes in when we consider the level and projection of such honesty..its a fine balance.

One thing i have learnt is about the intention behind a communication...for example...when we argue about something, we often propject anger or sadness or express sadness as anger because we are unable to get something or communicate something...but when we pick apart this...our intention is that we care about the way we see something...and being able to identify that we care and communictae this care then we are better able to stem the flow of agression or negative emotion.

I said to my mum a while back..a scenario that has stayed with me...when we were arguing about something to do with my mums apparently irrational response to a problem....i couldnt handle her crys and complaints...and after a while i got quite angry with her..
After a while of feeling this way, during the heat of the arguement...i noticed i was feeling angry because i was worried for her.....so i said
"look, im feeling angry about this because i care about you and love you and hate to see you struggle"
It stopped her in her tracks and the angry energy subsided!

many people dont bother, or lack the skills to notice that what they project is very much a surface image of an underlying set of emotions or thoughts or both! its only by "scanning" our internal landscape for another reason or catalyst to a response then we can identify some startling differences!...its then our choice to use them skillfully!

a great subject saffron!

take care x


Hi martyn, good point, what you are studying sounds facinating.

honesty is something that can make or break a relationship, but at least you know where you stand and helps avoid the feeling that you are not entireley honest about what you are feeling or thinking and this goes both ways.
when I think of fear of intimacy it is about stopping someone getting too close, a kind of self protection, and I think this should be based on honest and trust. you see I have a very think shell, and come across quite agressive and closed off, but that is not really me, however, everytime I start to let my gaurd down I get hurt in someway, the thing is what hurts is that something is said in honesty which is really negative and so I shut off again, but at least I know, at least I know it is not entirely my paranoia that makes me think things, because 9 x out of 10 what I have been thinking turns out to be true. and although it hurts like hell, I would rather know than live in pretense. shutting of again is a fear of intimacy. if that makes sense.

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