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Fear of intimacy is the fear of being emotionally and/or physically close to another individual, even while longing for connection.

Fear of intimacy is the subconscious fear of getting too close to someone even when yearning for closeness. It most often appears in people’s closest relationships because those are experienced as the most threatening. This is why it can exist in people who are introverts as well as extroverts.

Fear of intimacy usually originates as a coping mechanism in dealing with painful childhood experiences of intimacy around our first experiences of intimacy. If it was experienced as a child in a painful way because it was inconsistent, conditional or overwhelming, then it’s actually a healthy reaction to be protective against experiencing that pain again. Eventually, though, as adults, that protective reaction, causes us to lose out on the beautiful gifts of safe intimacy.

Fear of intimacy can often be overlooked and misdiagnosed as a lack of commitment, anxiety or having high standards.


It can manifest in a variety of ways such as;

  • Struggling to find relationships

  • Difficulty in staying in relationships

  • Being overly focused on the other person in the relationship

  • Shutting down emotionally

  • Losing attraction as the relationship becomes closerbeing able to handle the beginning of relationships and then finding yourself

  • Creating a distance in relationships by finding fault with others

  • Avoiding intimate situations through compulsive behaviors ranging from sex to work

  • Serial dating

  • Withholding affection

  • Preferring pornography to being with another person

  • Sexual disfunction including loss of interest in sex, difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection, ejaculating or being present

  • Feeling that another’s attempts to be close are smothering or unreasonable

  • Intellectually not emotionally connect with others

  • Sending mixed signals of wanting to be close and then pulling away


At the Center for Intimacy Recovery, our team of clinicians understand intimacy disorders. We are here to work together with you to overcome the obstacles to intimacy and experience it on a whole new level.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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