Fear of Intimacy
Fear of intimacy has become more and more discussed between couples and individuals. Everyone wants intimacy and wants to be intimate. That's why it can be very frustrating when we feel lack of intimacy in our relationships and dating experience. We love relationships because of all the experiences we get - emotionally, relationally, physiologically, & sexually. When intimacy is strong, relationship feels great, and we feel great. Fear of intimacy can kill it all for all couples and individuals.
Those feelings however, are strongest only at the beginning of a relationship. Couples really enjoy it, and individuals feel great at different aspects of their lives too. That period usually last for six months but no more than two years. That is also why the initial stage of a relationship is the easiest, more exciting and fun, and sex is usually the greatest. (There are other reasons why sex is the greatest at the beginning but we can talk about that another time. You can contact me too if you want answers earlier).
I have to explain that to my clients in my couples therapy, marriage counseling, sex therapy, and individual therapy practice, and some of my clients are shocked and disappointed. However, there are skills and strategies that you can learn in couples counseling, marriage therapy, sex therapy, and individual therapy to bring back those feelings again. A trained marriage counselor and sex therapist can help with that.
Fear of intimacy though, can cause that initial honeymoon period to be shorter, or non exiting. That can be very hurtful and confusing for partners. It can be frustrating for partners who have fear of intimacy too. It is not a fun place for either side.
Do you have fear of intimacy? Do you think your partner have fear of intimacy? How do you know if you or your loved ones have fear of intimacy?
Do you know the signs of Fear of Intimacy?
As a trained marriage counselor, couples therapist, and sex therapist, I have a few ideas that I want to share with you.
1. Physical & Emotional Distance
Fear of intimacy in people to become more physically and emotionally distant. They struggle with having a long term relationship that’s closed, intimate, and connected. Some of them might be in a relationship for a long time, but their partners often describe their dynamic as “cold, distant, lack of passion,” or “we are more like roommates or worse strangers.” Sometimes they have sexless marriage or relationship. Sometimes their sex might be great but there is no emotional connection. Their partners do not really know who they are. That is because they never really reveal who they are from the inside out. That is the intimacy of which men are lacking and are afraid.
2. Difficulty Expressing Feelings & Emotions
People who are scared of intimacy have trouble expressing their emotions. They usually have difficulty noticing their emotional experience and putting words on them. If they can’t even do the above, how do you expect them to share their inner world with you? That is why so many partners get frustrated because expressing emotions might be easier for one than the other. Women tend to get more permission and practice to feel, to express, and get feedback and reflection on their experiences. Men don’t but that does not mean they don't want to be. Plus, there are men who can be intimate and have intimate skills.
3. Engage in Infidelity/Affairs/Broken Trust Activities
Fear of intimacy is another reason contributed to infidelity or affairs, or any activities that shake up the trust in relationships. In some ways, it is easier to spend time with others than their intimate partners. It is less threatening and less attached. They feel less pressure to be perfect and to perform.
Work might be stressful but at least it is more tangible and concrete. You know the exact steps you have to take to get to the final destination. It is much easier to navigate than the complexity of human relationship and emotions. That's why some people work long hours instead of facing the reality of their relationship and directly talking to their parents. Working too many hours though, is another way of stepping out of a relationship.
Relationship and sex are easier without the extra layer of caring, worry, and emotional connection. Sex is easier when you don’t need to worry about much about the other person. One night stand is more comfortable because you don’t have to see that person again. Thus, you don’t have to worry about seeing that person again. No connection is easier but more lonely though.
4. Addictions to Drug, Alcohol, Gambling, Working, Exercising, Eating, etc.
People who have fear of intimacy can have addictions to drug, alcohol, gambling, working, exercising, eating, and any other forms you can thing of. Those activities can be escape for them. They find release in doing them because they have so much anxiety and adrenaline built up in them. People want intimacy too but when they don’t know how. Moreover, when they know they have disappointed their partners, they feel guilty and useless. That’s a horrible place to be. Therefore, they have to find release and some type of activities to soothe themselves. That’s just what humans do. We often engage in activities, healthy or not, to make ourselves feel better.
5. Sex Addiction & Porn Addiction
Sex addiction and porn addiction are really common too. Some of the partners find it confusing why they would have those addictions. Their partners might be asking them to have sex all along, so why would they have sex with other people? Why would they want to watch porn rather than being with a real human being? Why do they jump from relationship to relationship if they have had great connection with someone?
I have had partners who were shocked when they found out their partners have been watching porn behind their back. They however, did not want to have sex in their marriage. They told me, “I thought he was just not interested in sex.” These wives would try so hard too to spice up their sex life to keep it going. Sooner or later, these wives started criticizing themselves as not attractive enough, not sex enough, or not _____ enough. (You can fill in the blank.) They are usually furious and so hurt when they found out the truth of their porn addiction and sex addiction. They felt stupid and being lied to. Trust became a bigger issue in the relationship. These wives also subsequently experienced what I call “relationship trauma.”
It s hard to understand why men engaged in sex addiction or porn addiction but it makes sense as it all has to do with fear of intimacy. If you have more questions, please let me know. As a relationship therapist and sex therapist, I am passionate about helping people having a better understanding of sex and intimacy.
6. New Relationship Addiction
As for people who are addicted to new relationships, while this may seem hard to believe in the context of fears of intimacy, but it totally makes sense. With new relationships, we do not have to work as hard on building intimacy with themselves and with his partners. New relationships can always give us the newness of a romance during the honeymoon period.
We can be charming, gentle, funny but we do not have to be so emotionally invested and involved yet. Once the honey moon period is over, that’s where the real relationship start and real work need to happen. And that’s the most tough period for couples to stay together and work out their differences. If they do not have the right relationship and intimacy skills, they often move on to the next person to replicate the same feelings and emotions of the last relationships. They enjoy the “high,” “the newness,” and “the excitement” of the honey moon period. But they lack the skills to continue the dynamic and build a real relationship that has excitement and newness AND intimacy and passion.
The Vicious Cycle of Fear of Intimacy & Loss of Intimacy
People with fear of intimacy display the above six signs. Loss of intimacy usually happen sooner than later in their relationship with themselves and others. But the question I have always had in my head when I look at the connection between fear of intimacy and loss of intimacy is which one comes first. It is like the chicken and the egg problem.
Loss of intimacy can lead to fear of intimacy, and the cycle can keep going on until something happen to interrupt the vicious cycle. Without new knowledge and effective skills, people can easily fall into that cycle and never know how to be intimate.
Fear of Intimacy Does Not Have To Be The Barrier of Getting The Relationship that You Want!
Intimacy is not rocket science. It is a skill set. You can learn the right skills to become the intimate partner that you want to be. You can get the right guidance to be the intimate person you want to be. Having intimacy skills can make yourself a happier person. Learning the right intimacy skills can make you a better, more connected partner so you can have a more intimate relationship.
If you need more than the standard time frame that traditional counseling/therapy offers, you can check out my Special Services: VIP Counseling Day, Denver Concierge Services/Counseling, & Couples Retreat.
You deserve happiness and joy that life, sex, and relationship can give to you.
Don't want any longer to feel fuller and happier.
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