What is... Fear of Intimacy?
Fear of emotional intimacy!
- ...Who would ever want to admit to having this fear?
- And what is this deepest fear, anyway?
- How do you know if you have it? (Hint: if you're a human being, then you probably do!)
And what can you do about it, anyway?...
Well, there are no easy answers on this page, I'm afraid, but you will find two excellent YouTube videos that discuss this most common fear, and I do my usual rambling (personal) discourse on this fear. And, as ever, I welcome your thoughts too!
Fear of intimacy
What I say...
Hmm, this is perhaps one of the most important pages on SelfHelpCollective.com, I feel. And I have a lot to say on the subject, but where to begin. I know, in true 'non-intimate'-style let me begin with the words of others:
"Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex."
-- Barbara Cartland
"Games are a compromise between intimacy and keeping intimacy away."
-- Eric Berne
"I've often thought that my lack of intimacy with those around me is the fault of those around me."
-- Luke Ford
"My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don't really know me."
-- Garry Shandling
Clearly, if these intimacy quotes are anything to go by, fear of emotional intimacy is a complicated fear as well as it being one of the most common fears; it's also one of our deepest fears, one of MY deepest fears.
But how do you know if you've got this fear, and what do you if you have?
Acts of Intimacy
Hmm, well let me share with you what I consider to be acts of intimacy. Then imagine yourself doing such an 'act of intimacy' and see how you feel.
- Look into someone's eyes (for as long as you can)
- to let them look into yours
- Reveal your deepest thoughts to another
(no matter the consequence)
- Feel deep love for someone, and stay with it fully
(rather than 'shut down' a little for 'safety's sake')
- Know yourself - know who you are as much as you can
- Share yourself - share who you are as much as you can
1. I did not include the act of sexual intercourse, here. And that's because I am now able to detach myself (quite often, anyway) from this act - which means to say I can enjoy sex WITHOUT it feeling intimate. (Yes, sad!)
2. It's actually quite difficult to 'describe' intimacy - intimacy is felt, rather than described
3. Intimacy starts with yourself. No-one can be intimate with you, if you cannot be intimate with yourself
So, how would doing such an act of intimacy make you feel? Really? Are your instincts to open up to the experience and allow the person to see more of you? Or do you rather move away from the sensation fearing over-exposure, fearing you will be 'found out'?
Overcoming Fear of Intimacy
As with overcoming any fear you really must know that you have the fear in the first place. And, contrary to popular belief, this intimacy fear can be suffered equally by both men and women.
(Yes, fear of intimacy may play itself out differently in both men and women - for example, keeping women at arm's length emotionally (for men) and choosing to be with the wrong men (for women) - but both sexes suffer from this most common fear, make no mistake!)
And then, unoriginal as it sounds, you must face your intimacy fear. And you do that by knowing what you resist - for example, being open with someone, letting them see 'into' you - and you must desist from resisting, simple as that.
A Personal Example...
Let me say to you right now that fear of intimacy is endemic! MOST of us suffer from this fear much more than we realise. For sure there are sensible reasons to keep ourselves emotionally 'safe', but the safety mechanisms most of us have in place are far too s. Which is another way of me saying that intimacy fear can be overcome in oh so many places in our lives, in my life...
How I do intimacy:
- I'm curious about people. I seek to get to know people as much as I can, allow them to get to know me. Previously, my instincts would be to 'dismiss' those that did something 'wrong' or wore the 'wrong clothes' (and thus not bother to get to know them, or let them get to know me)
- I laugh more freely with others; play with others much more
- I share silences
It's all about self-exposure. And, as I said, intimacy is not just something you share with your nearest and dearest - you can safely let anyone and everyone see into you ('into me see').
It's all about knowing you have intimacy issues, and then challenging yourself to let those issues dissolve - to let people see you.
It Takes Courage!
Make no mistake though, this overcoming fear of intimacy - this leap into the 'dark' - takes courage, and lots of it. Your instincts will always be to turn away, to close down, to remove yourself from 'danger'. But it's worth it, it really is, overcoming this fear, as the benefits to your life WILL reveal:
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin
As for the alternative, to keep yourself 'small' and unopened - well that looks like this: lowered self confidence, feeling like a failure, and feeling hopeless and depressed.
Which life would you prefer? A shrunken, shrivelled life, or an expanded and open one? Answers on a postcard, p-lease...
Fear of intimacy - what YouTube has to say...
Welcome to video 1 (of 2) of The
Fear Chronicles, with lots of talking heads talking about fear, especially one
of the most common fears, intimacy fear.
And you know, watching these videos - this is video 2 (of 2) of The Fear
Chronicles - I've decided that I DO NOT always fear intimacy, either - I, too, crave
it sometimes! Anyway, there are a lot of wise heads here. Enjoy...