How to Overcome a Fear of Intimacy

Women's Dating

How to Overcome a Fear of Intimacy

Dr. Wendy Walsh Dr. Wendy Walsh • 9/25/14

Being emotionally intimate with someone new can be scary, especially if you have a history of broken hearts and relationships gone awry.

Even if you’ve had a rough past or just generally cringe at the thought of being intimate and vulnerable with a new partner, it’s an essential piece of every relationship.

Intimacy is the glue that bonds couples together. It’s how trust is built.

If you are embarking on a new relationship and want to take the leap of faith, practice these pointers to learn to be truly intimate.

1. Practice with a safe person.

All new relationships bring a level of anxiety. Sometimes it’s easier to overcome a fear of intimacy by being more vulnerable and intimate with people you can already trust like a good friend.

Gradually introduce them to your romantic relationship to ease your qualms about intimacy.

2. Learn to tolerate shame.

Shame may be the most uncomfortable and unpleasant feeling in the human psyche. It’s often avoided by the use of psychological defenses like humor, denial and rationalization.

Unfortunately, these defenses don’t actually help us accept ourselves. Rather, they defend against those unwanted feelings.

In order to have an intimate relationship, a person needs to accept themselves, their flaws and their strengths. It’s not possible to truly love and tolerate another person’s flaws if we can’t tolerate our own.

“Start small with

trusting people.”

3. Find a therapist.

Talk about things you feel shameful about with someone you trust or a therapist. Just talking about these things can help relieve some of the guilt.

Many times shame comes from early life experiences with critical parents. Expressing shame in a safe environment can help heal and relieve this shame.

4. Develop healthy boundaries.

Being open and honest is different than being shameless. It’s important to be mindful about disclosing information to others.

Start with small disclosure about vulnerabilities before disclosing any painful feelings. Gauge how well your partner protects you before disclosing more personal information.

Sometimes you may have to model healthy intimate disclosures in order for your partner to do the same.

Being able to tolerate shame, talk about it and accept yourself are crucial skills that are necessary to create authentic emotional intimacy and a healthy relationship.

Start small with trusting people, and then move on to bigger vulnerabilities with a romantic partner. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it gets with every little disclosure.

Photo source: liveboldandbloom.com.