Have you lost what you thought was a great relationship because you were unable to get really intimate? Does the thought of making love to a new partner fill you more with fear than longing? Intimacy avoidance is a taboo topic for many people, but it’s a real problem that blights many lives. Therapy for intimacy avoidance can help you get past these problems and build truly satisfying relationships.
What is intimacy avoidance?
The need to form close emotional bonds is written into our DNA. It is part of what it is to be human. There are, it is true, rare cases of individuals who simply do not feel this need, such as those on the extreme end of the autism spectrum. Much more common, however, are people whose need for closeness is normal, but overweighed by a fear of, or aversion to, intimacy. Psychologists refer to this as intimacy avoidance. Often such people will form romantic relationships, but then withdraw whenever anything seems to be “getting serious”. Others are too frightened even to begin relationships.
Types of intimacy avoidance
Fear of intimacy is the common thread that connects many seemingly different personality types. For instance, you may not think that a serial dater, bouncing from one partner to the next, has much in common with the helicopter parent obsessively watching every one of her children’s moves. In both cases, though, the root cause of these exaggerated behaviors may be a fear of intimacy that expresses itself differently in different situations. The mother who cannot bring herself to form a closer bond with her husband may take refuge in trying to micromanage her offspring. The affluent and attractive single may disguise his fear by convincing himself that he is just “playing the field”.
Getting to the cause
Intimacy avoidance is a symptom, not a syndrome. If you want to form deep emotional relationships, then you need to get to the root cause of the problem. Often, intimacy avoidance is a response to trauma that has not been properly addressed. It might be the product of dysfunctional relationships forged in childhood or adolescence. If you can see the signs of intimacy avoidance in your life, it’s important to get a proper evaluation. Through therapy, you can work your way to the source of the problem. By addressing the root causes, you may be able to begin forming meaningful relationships that can bring lasting happiness.