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Fear of Intimacy

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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Fear of Intimacy


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2018). Fear of Intimacy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Nov 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.