August 2, 2016

What Causes Fear of Intimacy? 4 Reasons (& What to Do).

L'Orso Sul Monociclo/Flickr

This article originally appeared on MeetMindful. elephant is proud to share their content, and we think you’ll love them just as much as we do. Happy reading! ~ Ed.

Do you tend to withdraw from a partner as soon as things start to get deep?

Do you find your relationships tend to stay on the surface? If the thought of intimately connecting with a partner makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to find out why. To build a healthy, happy, relationship, it takes a certain level of intimacy to be able to grow and trust in a partnership.

Let’s look at a few common reasons why intimacy can be so downright terrifying.

It’s all in your head.

Your brain may be wired to avoid intimacy. As infants, we develop something called an “attachment style” which stems from the bond between a child and a primary caregiver.

When we are babies, we express our needs (needs for hunger, sleep, safety) by crying or interacting with a primary caregiver or parent. Over time, we learn whether our needs will be met with warmth and consistency, with a negative emotion like anger or irritation, or with inconsistent responses. Sometimes, our needs aren’t met at all. As this cycle of expressing and responding to our needs is repeated thousands of times in those first few years of life, we make powerful connections in our brains that tell us what relationships mean to us.

We essentially learn whether it is safe and comfortable to depend on others, or whether it is better to keep a distance because our needs are never met in a positive way. A child who’s needs are rarely met, or that their needs are met with negative emotion or consequences, will often develop an avoidant attachment style. This style will make you feel very uncomfortable with intimate relationships, and your brain will react in ways that keep you distanced from your partners.

If you have a pattern of only having short term relationships, or feeling like you sabotage relationships when you get close to someone, it might be worth learning more about having an avoidant attachment style to see if it fits for you. Working with a coach or therapist who understand attachment can be very beneficial, as can reading books to educate yourself about how your brain works in relationships.

You’re heartbroken.

If you’ve had a broken heart or two, you may have good reason to fear intimacy. If you generally feel comfortable with intimacy, but you’ve been hurt by a partner in the past, you may consciously and subconsciously be protecting yourself by avoiding intimacy with someone new. If this is the case, it’s time to do some healing.

Everyone has a different way to heal a broken heart. Some simply need time to grieve. Some need therapy to help sort through the pain of a past relationship. You may simply need to change your story about heartbreak. If you hear yourself saying things like “I don’t trust anyone,” or “There’s no one out there for me,” know you are choosing that belief. It doesn’t have to be your truth. You can build resiliency to heartbreak by developing beliefs that help you focus on the abundance of love that’s possible for you. Another helpful belief is that every heartbreak serves an important purpose to help you get closer to your life partner.

Your brain is powerful. Where your attention goes, your experiences and emotions will follow. You can choose to focus on pain and heartbreak, or love and hopefulness. What will your focus be?

…Follow us over to MeetMindful to finish reading What Causes Fear of Intimacy? 4 Reasons (& What to Do).


Author: Chelli Pumphrey

Image: L’Orso Sul Monociclo/Flickr

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

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