Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

Bromley & Harley Street

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Are You Afraid of Intimacy?

By: Samantha De Bono


Take a look at these symptoms and see if you recognise them in yourself or your loved one:-

Fear of Intimacy  Symptoms

    Fear of being vulnerable and showing vulnerability.
    Difficulty or inability to show affection, tenderness or caring without sex.
    A preference for quick sex and discomfort around a long build-up to sex.
    Inability to let go of hurts and fears even if they occurred long ago (especially those from previous relationships).
    Chronic defensiveness.
    Not wanting others to know what you really feel or who you “really are”.
    Difficulty in asking for help from others.

Sex can often be mistaken for intimacy, but the two are not synonymous. When we have sex with someone we aren’t in a relationship with, it is more about a biological need than a sharing of ourselves. In some cases where a person has a fear of intimacy, sex with their partner no longer holds the same attraction once they have become involved in a serious relationship, possibly because it is no longer a meaningless act, but an act of giving and receiving. The honesty in sex with a person we love can build a bond that we are scared of losing which in turn bring about feelings of vulnerability.

It is also quite common for women who have fear of intimacy issues to have poor self-esteem, especially when it comes to their physical appearance, this could partly explain why meaningless sex would be easier, as the need to learn all there is to know about this person is unlikely – that would mean opening up to someone and letting them see the real you. It makes sense that we would be more likely to fear losing someone who really knows us inside and out than we would to lose someone who just desires us on the outside.

Psychologist Dr. Kal Heller says “To admit to needing someone else is to risk loss and deep hurt. This is difficult for all of us. Dependency is a negative concept in our society. Men, especially, are taught to strive for independence. Intimacy is very risky because it requires making such a serious commitment to the relationship that each person will experience a sense of dependency on the other.”

When a person has been hurt, they might throw themselves into work or run from the hurt so as not to feel the full impact, if this pain has been caused in childhood, that child does not have the awareness of the need for the grieving process, and so buries the hurt. In both cases, they create unhealthy coping mechanisms, which can cause them to avoid intimacy in the future so that they never have to feel that hurt again. Sadly, for some, the fear of being hurt or abandoned by someone close can overshadow their need or want to develop a meaningful relationship.

For some people with intimacy issues, it is easier to avoid love rather than build a serious relationship that could end badly or turn out the way they feared it would. Interestingly the symptoms of their fear is more likely to be the cause of failure than the relationships itself had it been given the chance to grow.

Being with a person who has issues with intimacy can be very hurtful to the partner who is constantly trying to get close and build intimacy between them because they will feel rejected and shut out. One minute they may feel they are getting somewhere, the next they are out in the cold again, feeling frustrated and dejected.

When couples face these fears with the help of a counsellor, they can make changes that result in increased intimacy, but it isn’t an over-night solution. Overcoming a fear of intimacy isn’t easy, it means being brave enough to really look at one’s self  honestly, being able to explore painful pasts, probably as far back as childhood. It takes time and understanding of what put the fear in place to start with, but it can be done and has been done for many couples who have gone on to build fulfilling intimate relationships.