We may not speak of it openly but the fear of intimacy is very common among people. The fear of intimacy refers to sharing the mental or physical closeness with another person. Scientifically the fear of intimacy is known as Aphenphosmphobia (fear of being touched) and it is also widely known as Philophobia (fear of being touched).
Sometimes this fear of emotional/physical intimacy jeopardizes the relationship and bonding that people have with one another. John Mayer Ph.D., a clinical psychologist stated that a constant explosion of anger stipulates that the person is immature and these kinds of people are unable to generate an intimate relationship.
Signs and Symptoms
A person who has a fear of intimacy may not be vocal about it. The fear tends to generate at an early age. Some people are prone to shut their feelings when they are rejected or bullied as a child. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that indicate that the person fears intimacy. Also, the graveness of the symptoms will resonate with the extent of the fear as well.
- Unable to express emotions or feelings
- Shows discomfort when someone else is being affectionate
- Difficulty trusting people
- Doesn’t feel like opening up to partners
- Have trust issues
- Struggles with emotions
- Finds it hard to apologize
- Fear to discuss problems with others
- Avoiding physical contact
These are some of the most common symptoms and signs that are evident among the people who fear intimacy.
Causes of Fear of Intimacy
Abandonment is one of the vital reasons for the fear of intimacy. The feelings are generally linked to traumatic childhood experiences, abusive relationships, etc. Whenever a person tends to open up another, the fear surpasses their willingness to share their feelings and eventually restricts them to do so. Due to social stigma, sometimes people feel like they are not worthy of being loved and many even have “commitment phobia” that leads to the fear of intimacy.
It has also been shown in research that dysfunctional relationship among parents is another major reason for the growing fear of intimacy. When a person grows up with abusive parents, they automatically develop a defensive mechanism that shuts off themselves.
However, in some cases, the fear does not arise due to abandonment or past relationship rather it’s because of a person’s lack of confidence and low self-esteem. Sometimes failed romantic relationships also generate a sense of fear that restricts the person to be intimate in later relationships.
How to Treat the Fear of Intimacy
Well, it is not as easy as it may sounds. For some people, it is a big deal to come out of their shell and open up. It takes time and great effort to overcome the fear and work with it. If you have a fear of intimacy then you need to push away the negative emotions and let your loved ones near you. This you help you open up a side that you never even know existed.
You need to fight back the challenges you face in terms of sharing your feelings. Also, if you see any of your loved ones showing such symptoms then you need to be empathetic and walk with them in this journey to help them overcome the fear.
Every relationship comes with some level of uncertainty. Instead of focusing on what will happen tomorrow, try to value what you have now. Try to be open to your partner and talk. Give them a chance to make things better for both of yourselves.
Societal and Cultural Impact of the Fear of Intimacy
Not everyone around us shows concern towards the distress of others. Many times the people with the fear of intimacy as labeled as “weirdo” or “psycho”. Often times these words trigger the fear more and bring a more adverse effect on the overall scenario.
On the other hand, the cultural view of intimacy varies widely across the globe. In many cultures, people feel more intimidated with physical contact. However, in some culture physical contact is not always a focal point for intimacy rather a secondary consideration.
How common is the Fear of Intimacy?
The fear of intimacy is quite common. Sometimes we may not recognize it initially and consider it to be normal. It has been shown in research that around 66% of women and 34% have a fear of intimacy. Also, fear is more common among the people aged between 18-34 years old.
Being in fear eventually affects the quality of your lifestyle. So, cut yourself some slack as that will help to boost up your confidence and help to develop a better relationship with your partner.
If you have a partner who has issues with intimacy then you should always take a step forward and resolve the issues. Giving your partner the reassurance that you’re their safe haven will help them express their feelings better and bring a healthy balance to the relationship as well.
What should you do if you have Fear of Intimacy?
To some people, it may seem like a bit of a cliché. However, fear of intimacy is an anxiety disorder and without proper treatment, it can cause a severe social phobia. Even though the fear of intimacy is a complex phobia, you need to work your way up to overcome it.
Some days it may seem like an overwhelming task to move forward and get out of the cocoon. Despite the hardship, you need to face the challenges to be more confronting to your near and dear ones.
If you’re constantly pushing away the people who love you then you will not only hurt yourself but also end up sabotaging your relationship with them in the process. Try to discuss your partner that what triggers your fear and find a feasible solution that works in both of your favor. However, if everything fails then make sure that you seek professional help.