Intimacy is a close, personal relationship in which both people feel safe sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Many experts believe intimacy is the key to a happy and fulfilling relationship. Studies show people can have different definitions of intimacy. Since humans are social beings, we all need some level of intimacy to feel happy and fulfilled.
Why Some Have Issues Building Intimacy
We often associate intimacy with romantic relationships. However, this is also an essential part of friendships, family relationships, and professional relationships. You can build intimate relationships on trust, mutual respect, and a deep understanding of one another.
When we feel close to someone and can share our authentic selves, we experience a sense of connection and belonging. This sense of connection makes us feel safe and secure in our relationships.
However, some people have trouble creating close, intimate relationships, ultimately making it hard to trust others and show their true selves to others. This is common for people with intimacy disorders like social anxiety disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or narcissistic personality disorder. People who experience trauma, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, can also have difficulty developing intimacy.
What Are the Signs You Fear Intimacy?
Before you seek treatment, you must learn the signs you fear intimacy. Here are four examples that show you might need professional help.
You Avoid Physical Contact
Feeling a little nervous when it comes to physical intimacy is perfectly normal. After all, it’s a very personal act involving exposing yourself physically and emotionally. However, some people take this discomfort to the extreme, avoiding any kind of physical contact altogether as a way to protect themselves from getting too close to someone else.
While it may seem like an excellent way to keep yourself from getting hurt, this strategy usually backfires. Not only does it make it difficult to form close relationships, but it can also lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
You Don’t Share Personal Details
Being cautious about sharing personal details with someone new is perfectly normal. You don’t want to open up too much, too soon, and end up getting hurt. But if you’re never willing to share anything about yourself, it could signify that you’re afraid of intimacy.
It could be that you’ve been hurt in the past and are afraid of being vulnerable again. Or maybe you’ve just never been good at expressing yourself. If you’re always holding back, people may not get to know the real you and may not understand what makes you tick. This will make you feel lonely and isolated even when surrounded by people.
You Have Low Self-esteem
Low self-esteem makes it hard to believe that anyone could love or accept you for who you are. As a result, you might try to keep people at a distance to protect yourself from getting hurt.
When you don’t think you’re good enough, it’s hard to open up and be yourself. You might try to make yourself seem better than you are, or you might put up a wall to stop others from getting too close. But sooner or later, people will see through your facade and not want to stick around if they don’t feel like they know the real you.
You’re Anxious in Social Situations
Some people constantly feel anxious in social situations. Feeling a little nervous when meeting new people or going to new places is normal. But if your anxiety is so severe that it prevents you from enjoying yourself or participating in activities, it might indicate an underlying fear of intimacy.
You might avoid social situations altogether to protect yourself from feeling anxious. But this only ends up making you feel more isolated and lonely. It might even make your anxiety worse.
Getting Professional Help
If you’re struggling to create close, intimate relationships, get help from a mental health professional. They can help diagnise your condition, make you understand the root of your fear, and start the proper intervention. They will help you to learn to trust others, develop healthy relationships, and experience the intimacy you deserve.
When looking for the right pros, find a treatment center accredited by the Joint Commission. The right treatment center has a team of licensed professionals and offers evidence-based treatment for intimacy disorders such as dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand your thoughts and feelings. This therapy can help you learn to manage anxiety and fear in relationships.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy is a way to help you manage your intense emotions, better cope with difficult situations, and improve your relationships.
- Exposure therapy is an intervention where professionals will help you overcome your fear of intimacy. They do this by gradually exposing you to situations that make you feel uncomfortable.
Forming close relationships can be difficult if you’re afraid of intimacy. By knowing the signs usually associated with intimacy disorders, you can take the first step in getting the help you need to improve your relationships. If your fear is now debilitating to the point that you can no longer participate in activities or struggle with low self-esteem, seek professional help.