By nature, humans are social creatures. We have an instinct to create close bonds with others and connect intimately on both an emotional and a physical level. In fact, one 40-year study of 182 adults by a New York-based researcher determined that establishing intimacy as a young adult can lead to satisfaction in later life. But what happens when something that comes so naturally to some strikes fear and dread in others?
Fear of intimacy, or intimacy avoidance as it’s also known, is described by psychologist Jordan Rullo, PhD, as “the fear of having close and vulnerable relationships with others, whether that be emotionally, physically, or sexually.”
Any fear is a complex issue that exists in the subconscious, making it tricky to overcome. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. In fact, “if you’re reading this article because you recognize that you yourself have a fear of intimacy, you’re already on the path to overcoming it,” says Rullo. “The first step in changing an old pattern is awareness that the pattern exists. You can’t change something if you don’t know it exists.”