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Understanding fear of intimacy

The fear of intimacy is a subconscious fear of closeness that frequently affects a person's personal relationships. It is generally characterized by a distrust of people or an inability to let people get too close emotionally. A fear of intimacy affects many adults and hinders them from forming healthy romantic and nonromantic relationships with others. This fear usually tends to occur in a person's closest and most meaningful relationships.

Often times, a fear of intimacy will hinder any relationship.
Getty Images/Jeff J. Mitchell

Often romantic relationships can be complicated, and when a fear of intimacy is added to the mix, the relationship usually ends before it even has a chance to begin. Whatever the root of the cause lie, a fear of intimacy can wreak havoc on relationships. One of the best ways to battle this fear is a willingness to accept uncertainty. There are no guarantees in any relationship; every connection with another person is a gamble.

Many people want a loving relationship but in reality, they only search for the fantasy instead. It seems that real love often threatens people and arouses their anxiety as they become vulnerable and put themselves out there. This often leads to a fear of intimacy. Falling in love is exciting and fulfilling, but it also creates anxiety and fears of rejection. This is why people create friction to avoid loving relationships.

The fear of intimacy is intertwined with the fear of vulnerability. Many people may be comfortable with expressing their feelings or showing their true self to others. Yet these same people might pullback when they feel a relationship becoming too close. So, this fear of vulnerability could be loosely defined as fearing one's self. However, the fear of intimacy is a fear of sharing a deep connection with another person.

In order to overcome a fear of intimacy, people must be comfortable with themselves. If someone truly knows and accepts their value and worth, then anxiety and a fear of rejection would not have time to set it. A person must challenge their negative attitudes toward themselves so to not push loved ones or potential love ones away.

A fear of intimacy symptoms is highly noticeable in adults, and it generally stems from childhood problems. Everyone brings baggage into a relationship, whether it is from childhood or a bad relationship, but for some the issues are so deep that they tend to push everyone away. Nonetheless, these issues are often complex especially if the fear of intimacy is rooted in one's past. Everyone copes in different ways; some uses healthy coping mechanisms, while others use unhealthy mechanisms. But sadly, the fear of being hurt by someone they develop a deep connection with could overshadow a need or want to develop a meaningful relationship.