Intimacy is a lot like trying to get warm on a cold winter night. You cover yourself up in your preferred blankets and settle in for sleep, however at some time overnight you might feel too warm and constrained by the blankets. So you disentangle yourself and press the blankets away. However, after a few hours, you feel cooled once again. So you grope for the discarded blankets and wrap them around you once again, indulging in the heat and security they bring … that is, till you feel too warm once more …
Fear of intimacy
The phrase highlights an individual’s battle to become physically and/or mentally close and we frequently describe this battle as a fear. However, this general term cannot completely explain exactly what lies behind one’s struggle with intimacy.
Let’s take a more detailed look at three ways a fear of intimacy can manifest in your marital relationship.
1. Intolerance for closeness– physical and psychological.
For some, a more accurate description would be an intolerance of intimacy. You may have a desire for intimacy yet at the same time have a strong, unfavorable physical reaction to deeper levels of connection. It’s as if your body’s intimacy-thermostat is set to avoidance or withdrawal mode whenever a certain level of intimacy takes place. Individuals who have this reaction might feel confused by it and not totally mindful that it is taking place.
Overcoming a fear of intimacy that originates from unfavorable physical responses:
The roots of this response often (however not constantly) originate from the disruptions of intimacy (i.e., neglectful or invasive parenting) in childhood. When this is the case in your history, the objective for you will be to discover how your body responds to psychological and physical intimacy. (Make certain to suspend self-criticism while monitoring your reactions.) Once you become aware of your physical hints, you can use relaxation exercises as a method to recondition your body so that you can accept the much deeper levels of connection used by your partner.
2. Gender function constraints
Society and culture produce effective rules for how males and females associate with each other. Female/male stereotypes have a powerful influence on what you feel are acceptable methods to experience and express intimacy. Often these gender roles work behind the scenes in your relationship, sometimes assisting you and your partner. Nevertheless, they can regularly work as a strait-jacket, limiting the level of intimacy allowed your relationship– the influence of gender role constructions regularly credit to one’s worry of intimacy.
Social and cultural rules may work well for you and your partner, however, sometimes they can adversely limit the ways in which you and your partner relate to one another. For example, some cultures send out the message that males shouldn’t experience feelings that make them feel susceptible, while females get the message that the assertion of their needs is unfeminine.
Overcoming a worry of intimacy based on gender stereotypes:
Assumptions that lie behind gender-role stereotypes is the first step toward loosening up the limitations that accompany these assumptions. Here are a few questions to get you began:
Do you feel that societal and cultural gender role stereotypes are holding you (or your partner) back in your relationship? If so, take some time to journal the ways in which female/male stereotypes are blocking your marriage or relationship from reaching its complete capacity.
Can you discuss this with your partner and establish a mutual strategy to overcome any gender limitations that may exist in your marital relationship or relationship?
3. Family good example
Many academic systems do not teach you the best ways to develop and maintain a long-lasting, intimate relationship. Typically learning happens by experimentation– and for much better or even worse, the majority of us learn by observing the relationships that surrounded us throughout our formative years. You discovered by observing how your caregivers associated with one another (and to others), in addition to how the essential grownups in your life related to you.
The long arm of your childhood family role models can develop effective expectations and beliefs that negatively influence your view of relationships and intimacy. Issues emerge when your partner’s need for intimacy varies from the role models you have actually internalized.