Isn’t finding love and happiness often considered the ultimate of life’s goals? And don’t we all hold personal relationships as the key to achieving this goal? In fact, research supports that the most important determinant for a person’s happiness is the quality of their relationships.
We spend years trying to figure out where our hearts belong and when we finally know the answer, we sometimes can’t help but run away in fear. To be emotionally vulnerable with someone isn’t for the faint of heart.
Having a fear of intimacy is perfectly understandable, especially if you have a history of failed relationships and emotionally distant or absentee parents. It can lead us to push away those we love most, often without meaning to.
We constantly doubt the stability and security of our relationships. We waste so much time stewing in indecision that we miss our chance to be with them. Here’s how to tell if you have a fear of intimacy:
You’re a perfectionist
It’s normal to want the people you love to think well of you, but you shouldn’t try to show them only the perfect version of yourself. If you’re a perfectionist, chances are you’ll have a hard time letting others see your flaws. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected because of them, or maybe you don’t even want to admit to yourself that you have them.
You can intimidate people by always putting up a perfect front, making others reluctant to approach you, as they find it hard to match your level. This facade keeps everyone at bay, but it’s important that you learn how to be open and vulnerable with the people you care about and that you trust them enough to let them see your flaws.
You’re afraid of abandonment
Often, a fear of intimacy stems from a deep-seated and unresolved fear of abandonment. Those who grew up with neglectful parents and have an anxious-avoidant attachment style are most likely to develop this fear.
With this fear at the back of your mind, you learn to adopt a positive view of yourself but a negative view of others, thinking the only person I can ever truly count on is myself.
You think that it’s always better to leave before you’re the one who’s left behind and so you’re reluctant to let people in and, because of that, therefore, struggle with long-term commitment.
You’re very independent
There is nothing wrong with being independent. Of course, it’s good to be competent, knowledgeable and self-sufficient, but you should also know how to ask for help when you need it.
If you’re too independent, you will try to do everything on your own because you take pride in needing nothing from anyone. In a lot of ways, it’s what makes you feel in control of your own life and enables you to keep your emotional distance from people.
You are feeding your fear of intimacy by making sure you never have to succumb to having others fulfil your needs. Your independence gives you freedom by keeping everyone at arm’s length.
You always fall for the bad boys/girls
Do you have a history of falling in love with all the wrong guys or girls? Do you find yourself attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable or distant?
Picking unhealthy partners is a common characteristic seen in those who have a fear of intimacy because it allows them to avoid getting too close to a person or ever having a stable future with them.
You might find damaged or complicated people more appealing because you want to avoid intimacy and end up rejecting the ones who are actually more sincere to commit.
Do you sometimes ghost your friends after spending a lot of quality time with them? Have you ever opened up to your partner about something deep and personal but then stopped calling and talking to them for a few days?
These behaviours show that having an honest emotional connection with someone scares you. So you try to keep your distance and stop yourself from getting too attached to them.
Since they have come too close for your comfort, you run in the opposite direction to keep yourself from getting hurt.
People who are afraid of intimacy will often sabotage their own relationships. That’s why having this kind of fear can be so destructive. Because it often takes away the chance to have a happy, stable, and functional relationship.
You may do it unknowingly by a failure to communicate well or not expressing your feelings to others. Or you might be deliberately doing things you know could upset the ones you love.
In fact, studies show that people who cheat on their partners often do so because they have a fear of intimacy.
Well, it’s easy to see why being afraid of intimacy can keep us from being happy. It’s harder to change when we’re already set in our ways.
Painful memories, messy breakups and unhappy early childhood experiences can leave us with a lot of emotional baggage. Baggage that we’ll likely have to work through for years to come. But it doesn’t always have to be that way.
There’s no need to let these negative experiences define you and keep haunting you for the rest of your life. You have the power to overcome your fear of intimacy and commit to a healthy, emotionally fulfilling relationship.
The first step, however, is to recognise the signs. Did you nod along when reading any of these signs? If so, are you ready to commit to breaking the cycle? Now that you realise how truly damaging it could be? Did these points clarify the reasons for your fear? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share with those who might benefit from this article.