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Fear of Intimacy

The courage to be vulnerable.

Source: StockSnap/Pixababy

Intimacy involves a high degree of vulnerability and any time that we are challenged to drop our defenses we are likely to feel some degree of apprehension in regard to concerns about how others may respond to our “emotional disarmament”. Some of the concerns commonly felt in the experience of this kind of vulnerability include:

  • Something that we revealed could be held against us or thrown up to us at a future point.
  • The confidential nature of what we expressed could be dishonored and revealed to others who may not respect what we have shared.
  • Through our intimate connection, we may feel closer and more emotionally dependent upon our partner.
  • Deepening the experience of intimacy could cause us to feel obliged to sacrifice freedom.
  • Our vulnerability may be perceived as a sign of weakness, thus opening us to judgment and possible exploitation by others.
  • The revelation of personal aspects that we may have been in resistance to accepting or even acknowledging to ourselves. While examining some of our conscious and unconscious concerns related to intimacy and vulnerability can be difficult or uncomfortable, there is great value in our willingness to do so.
  • Becoming aware of aspects of ourselves that we have been in denial about and possibly challenging our self-image, potentially causing us to feel shame or remorse.

It can be helpful to identify the specific nature of fear that we may have because in doing so we become more able to recognize some of the ways that we can begin to neutralize the effects that they have on us.

Flavors of Fear

This is a list of a few of the more common fears that people experience in the domain of relationships. A wine connoisseur doesn’t just divide wine into dry and sweet. She will differentiate descriptively: fruity, spicy or buttery. Like wine, fear also comes in many different varieties. When we make distinctions among the many flavors of fear, we come to know them better and are much less likely to be run by them.

The best way for us to disempower our fears and prevent them from stopping us from realizing our relationship dreams is to challenge them by refusing to allow them to dictate our choices.

  • Abandonment
  • Abandoning Another
  • Being Alone
  • Being Controlled
  • Being Crazy
  • Being Destitute or Impoverished.
  • Being Ordinary
  • Being Shamed
  • Being Unloved
  • Change
  • Commitment
  • Conflict
  • Death
  • Disappointing Others
  • Dying
  • Engulfment
  • Failure
  • Humiliation
  • Hurting Others

Because intimacy involves a high degree of emotional vulnerability, it’s not surprising that most of us would have some apprehension associated with it. When we see this fear as a natural and universal condition for most people, it ceases to be something that feels shameful and we can more easily acknowledge and deal with it more consciously and responsibly. Here are a few examples of some of the flavors that fear can come in. See if you recognize any of them from your own experience.

Being fearless does not mean having no fear. It means being committed to something that is bigger than your fear, like having the freedom to live authentically, passionately, and joyfully, like having a mutually fulfilling loving partnership with someone with whom you share a deep, ever-growing connection. Like living a life based upon the fulfillment of your dreams, rather than one based on minimizing pain and fear, like waking up in the morning and turning to your beloved and saying to each other “Good morning my love”, and starting your day knowing that you’ve already experienced what you most need, that is to love and be loved, and anything else is just gravy.

All this and more can be available to anyone who is willing to give up the belief that it’s not possible, or that you don’t deserve it, or that the world is better off with you being miserable and unhappy than joyfully fulfilled, or any of the other beliefs that prevent us from claiming our birthright of a passionate life filled with love and beauty, that will endure and grow forever.

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