Intimacy in relationships involves sharing feelings and experiences. It can include sensuous and sexual activity, but it also includes non-sexual touch like kissing, hugs, and cuddling.
Emotional intimacy involves sharing your deepest feelings and fears with a close friend or partner. It can also involve intellectual challenge and open communication.
1. Be aware of your feelings
Becoming aware of how you avoid intimacy is the first step to overcoming it. You might find it helpful to write down a list of things that trigger your fear. Then, look at the list and notice what patterns you have in how you respond to them.
You might also want to look at the reasons you have those feelings. For instance, if you have low self-esteem, it can cause you to push people away. You might even feel that you don’t deserve intimacy.
Being honest about your fears and your hopes can lead to a closer relationship. For example, if you share your love for rock music with your partner and they still listen, then you can trust that they will support you as you are. Building intimacy can be uncomfortable at times, but it is worth the effort. Ultimately, it can only happen with both parties actively trying to open up and get close. Talk to your partner about your feelings and seek professional help if needed. It may be helpful to consider a therapist who specialises in relationships.
2. Be open to your partner’s feelings
It’s important to be open to your partner’s feelings, which can include their desires for physical intimacy. For example, if they enjoy long hugs, stroking, and sexual intimacy but you prefer short hugs, a light touch or no touching, it’s important to communicate that. It can be a difficult conversation, but it’s essential for both of you to be able to feel comfortable together.
It can also be helpful to discuss what turns you on and turn you off, so that your partner knows how to meet your needs. This can help you avoid feeling like you’re not getting enough pleasure in your relationship.
Lastly, it’s important to be open to your partner’s emotions, both good and bad. This means turning off the phone, putting down the video game, and looking them in the eye when they’re talking to you. It’s also important to listen without judgment and validate their feelings. This will help them feel safe sharing their emotions with you in the future.
4. Don’t judge your partner’s feelings
When you judge your partner’s feelings, it can cause them to shut down. It can also cause them to lash out and attack you back. Being able to empathize at a level that creates healing and brings you closer requires being able to fully listen without judging.
If your partner feels like their body is off limits, it can make them feel uncomfortable with intimacy. They may not want to kiss or hug in public, for example, because they feel they are constantly being watched and judged by others. This can lead to them feeling they need more physical space than you do.
The first change you can make is to talk to your partner about their feelings in a safe and non-confrontational way. Find a time when they are not having a bad day or aren’t stressed and in a good place to communicate. Ask them to explain their feelings, opinions and observations. Don’t defend yourself or lash out at them when they criticize you, because it will only shut down the communication.
5. Don’t judge yourself
Physical intimacy can include non-sexual contact like hugs, cuddles, eye gaze, hand holding, or even sitting beside someone. It can also include more intimate acts like braiding each other’s hair, or adjusting clothing. This type of intimacy is commonly found in close friendships and often helps build trust. It’s important to remember that physical intimacy can be just as emotional and meaningful as sexual intimacy.
If you’re prone to judging yourself, it can be hard to open up and share your feelings. Judgment can take many forms including being self-deprecating, constantly comparing yourself to others, or not speaking up when you need to. It’s important to work on self-love and acceptance, especially in intimate situations. Find people in your life who love you for who you are, and try to spend time with them.
If you find yourself dealing with intimacy issues, it’s important to seek out help. A compassionate counselor can help you understand your fear of intimacy and offer ways to overcome it. They can also teach you healthier coping mechanisms and strategies to avoid isolation.