Isn’t finding love, happiness and intimacy often considered the pinnacle of life goals? 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. 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 leads 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 with that person.
Here are 7 telltale signs you may be suffering from a fear of intimacy.
1. You’re afraid of abandonment
Oftentimes 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. You think the only person you can ever truly count on is yourself. 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 struggle with long-term commitment.
2. You’re fiercely independent
Don’t get me wrong, 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 never needing anything 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 by never allowing yourself to depend on them or need them. You are feeding your fear of intimacy by making sure you never have to succumb to having others fulfill your needs. Your independence gives you freedom by keeping everyone at arm’s length.
3. You always fall for the wrong ones
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 in some way or maybe abusive rude or unfaithful? 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 or secure future with them. You might find damaged, aloof or complicated people more appealing because you’ve want to avoid intimacy and end up rejecting the ones who are actually more sincere to commit.
4. You tend to be flaky
Being flaky means being inconsistent in our behaviour towards others. So when people get too close to you your first instinct is to push people away.
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 behaviors 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 nullify any budding connection and to keep yourself from getting hurt
5. 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 the perfect version of yourself only all the time. If you’re a perfectionist, chances are you’ll have a hard time letting others see your shortcut and 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 tend to 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.
6. You’re a workaholic
When you’re practically married to your job it barely leaves room in your life for any kind of relationship whatsoever. Maybe you’re pouring so much of yourself into your job because you want to deflect your focus away from your personal issues and avoid having to confront them.
You use your job and how you’re too busy doing it as an excuse for not being able to form or maintain healthy and lasting relationships. People who are afraid of intimacy often throw themselves into their work to avoid having to commit to something serious so if you’re a workaholic ask yourself if this is the reason why.
7. You sabotage your relationships
It goes without saying that people who are afraid of intimacy will often sabotage their own relationships. This is why having this kind of fear can be so destructive because it robs you of the opportunity to have happy stable and functional relationships.
You may be doing it unknowingly by failing to communicate or not expressing your feelings to others. You might be deliberately doing things you know could hurt or 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.
It’s easy to see why being afraid of intimacy and commitment can keep us from being happy. It’s harder to change when we’re already so set in our ways. Painful memories, messy breakups and unhappy early childhood experiences can leave us with a lot of emotional baggage. 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. With diligence and support, you have the power to overcome your fear of intimacy and commit to a healthy, emotionally fulfilling relationship.
The first step however is to simply recognize the signs.
Looking to improve your relationship? Have a read of our article on 18 little ways you can immediately improve your relationship!