Fear of intimacy: what it is, how it affects us and what causes it

While it is true that all relationships between human beings are not equal or experienced in the same way by their members, intimacy is one of the most important elements for relationships to be consolidated, prosper and endure in the time, based on a strong emotional bond which, in turn, exists on the basis of commitment and a certain degree of mutual understanding.

Intimacy between two people consists of being able to share all kinds of information and private experiences and personal with another person in a two-way and reciprocal way: both feelings, emotions, ideas, aspirations or dreams.

Accepting the other unconditionally and learning their way of being and their personality on a daily basis is another way of acquiring intimacy, which helps us to maintain these lasting relationships.

However, some people have, for various reasons, an exacerbated fear of establishing an intimate relationship with another person and remain closed to progress in the interpersonal relationship. then, Let’s see the characteristics of the fear of intimacy and its implications.

    What is the fear of intimacy?

    Intimacy is what makes relationships work; an essential element in any relationship between people, whether as a couple, between close friends or with close family members.

    Furthermore, the fear of intimacy is a form of “emotional self-sabotage” consisting of a person avoiding being too emotionally attached with a significant person for fear of being damaged in the future or for fear that the relationship will end in the short term.

    This phenomenon is also called “relationship anxiety” and is linked to a person’s inability to form emotionally meaningful social relationshipsas well as sharing all kinds of emotions or feelings towards others.

    People who are afraid of intimacy would like to establish normal and complete relationships with their partners or close friends; however, this is impossible for them due to fear, anxiety, and discomfort caused by the possibility of being abandoned, damaged, or betrayed.

      How is the fear of intimacy expressed?

      Although each person experiences this psychological phenomenon in a particular way, these are the main manifestations of the fear of intimacy.

      1. Tendency to always make decisions for oneself

      People who are afraid of intimacy have a remarkable tendency to make all sorts of important decisions on their own, without consulting your partner at any time.

      Likewise, there is usually a communication deficit in the couple due to the fact that these people never do anything together or ask the other member of the relationship for help or advice.

      2. Believing that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness

      Another classic sign of this disorder is believing that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness; This is why no fear, need or emotional difficulty is ever shared.

      It is common that showing feelings of any kind is also seen as an open window to all types of damage that can be inflicted from the outside.

      3. Sexual difficulties

      As professionals in psychology and sexology point out, fear of intimacy is also closely linked to sexual difficulties or dysfunctions of all kinds.

      It has to do with the anxiety experienced by these peopleand fear of revealing their insecurities related to nudity and the act of having sex itself, which is associated with sexual self-esteem.

        4. Avoid talking about the past

        While avoiding sharing anything, it is also common for these people to be reluctant to talk about their past or the traumatic, difficult or painful events they have experienced.

        Thus, one avoids at any time talking about past fears and painful experiences, or even lying about any subject of the past.

        6. Weak personal ties but adequate social skills

        Although people who fear intimacy may not be able to make meaningful emotional connections, they are pueden tener outstanding social skills which allows them to have daily social relationships with other people in a satisfying way.

        The main characteristic of the social relationships they establish is that they are always superficial and almost always fleeting.


          Although each case is unique, the most common causes of fear of intimacy in its most extreme versions are as follows.

          1. Dysfunctional home environments

          Growing up in a dysfunctional environment in which parents cannot take care of their children’s needs (both emotionally, physically, and materially) is one of the main causes that can lead to the development of this fear of intimacy.

          Growing up with certain emotional deficiencies, i.e. an environment in which parents do not provide necessary affection, love, or protectionmay end up being reconciled that children end up turning into adults who reject emotional intimacy with their partners.

          2. Situations of abuse

          In home environments characterized by child abuse or abuse, it is also common for these children to grow into adults with a fear of intimacy.

          This is directly related to the type of appearance that abused children develop: avoidant attachmentkey to the emergence of the fear of intimacy in adulthood.

            3. To have taken care of the brothers very early

            Some people whose parents are older and who had to care for their parents or younger siblings from an early age also often exhibit this type of psychological disturbance.

            This is due to the perception for most of their teenage life that they can only trust themselves and no one else will provide for your personal welfare.

            4. Childhood trauma

            Certain traumatic childhood experiences, how does the loss of a parent at a young agethey may also be related to fear of intimacy.

            People who go through this type of experience tend to become withdrawn throughout adulthood and have difficulty forming satisfying relationships with other adults.

            Are you looking for psychological assistance services?

            If you want to start a process of psychological therapy, I invite you to contact me.

            I call Javier AresI am a psychologist specializing in emotional and relationship problems, and I offer face-to-face and online services.

            Bibliographic references

            • OnlineLepore, J. (2010). The rise of marital therapy and other human betterment dreams. New York: The New Yorker.
            • Lewis, M. & Haviland-Jones, JM (2000). Handbook of emotions. New York: The Guilford Press.

            Leave a Comment