Fear of Intimacy

sex and intimacy

Do you believe that it is through connection and interaction that one gains a more varied awareness and deeper capacity to live in the world?

I do.

Do you know how to give?

Do you know how to take?

Can you do both?

If not you can change, but not overnight.

I believe the ability to do both will provide for an enduring and intimate relationship.

Are you whole enough in your self to be intimate?


"If you have a wounded or shattered sense of self," says Dr. Holly Hein, "you may still have a fear of intimacy. It will interfere with your capacity for intimacy."

Fear of Intimacy

Click to buy Sexual DetoursHein, author of Sexual Detours, says two seemingly opposite sets of emotions interfere with intimacy: abandonment and control. At their root, they are the same in that they both occur in individuals with a fragile sense of self-esteem, yet at first glance they appear strikingly dissimilar. Fear of abandonment and fear of control are both sides of the same coin: fear of intimacy.

When we fear abandonment we may try to stay glued onto another. We may seek to preserve the illusion of intimacy but, in truth, maintain a distance that prevents us from the vulnerability of intimacy. We may never develop ourselves as independent, whole individuals. Instead of dealing with the fear that we won't be able to survive, we try to avoid the feeling entirely.

Fear of control occurs when intimacy feels controlling. Commitment issues are frequent manifestations of fear because we equate being close to someone by being engulfed by him or her and losing ourselves. We don't want to get too close because something that is frightening or anxiety-producing is associated with closeness. The reason we fear being "smothered" or "swallowed up" by another is that we have a fragile sense of ourselves and perceive the other person as overwhelming or dangerous. The root is again that we won't be able to survive.

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To achieve intimacy it is crucial that we have the ability to perceive our partners as they really are, not as characters in the drama taking place within us. We each want to be valued for who we really are, not as a figment of someone else's imagination.

How does our early learning about sex contribute to the quality and pattern of sexual relating? Find out here.

Ever wonder why men go to prostitutes?

next: Clearing the Roadblocks to Sexual Intimacy

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 21). Fear of Intimacy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: August 20, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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