Can Fear of Intimacy Hurt Your Health?

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christopher campbell kFCdfLbu6zA unsplash 1

The fear of intimacy isn’t uncommon. While one may acknowledge that their fear of intimacy impacts relationships on a surface level, we may not always think of the impact this fear can have on our health. How exactly does one define the fear of intimacy, and could it have more of an influence on your life and wellbeing than you realize? Today, we will discuss this and what to do about it. 

Defining Intimacy

When you hear the word intimacy, you may assume that it’s a euphemism for sex, and in some contexts, it can be. However, intimacy isn’t just sexual by any means. It’s also emotional, intellectual, and physical in ways that exist outside of sex or sexual activity. The definition of intimacy is “the state of being intimate, which is marked by the consensual sharing of deeply personal information. It has cognitive, affective, and behavioral components. Intimates reveal themselves to one another, care deeply about one another, and are comfortable in close proximity.” Consequentially, a fear of intimacy refers to the fear of close relationships, and it can manifest in a number of different ways. 

How Fear of Intimacy Affects Health

Most of us desire intimacy in some form or another, if not in multiple forms. Human beings carry a fundamental need for social connection, and when that need is not met, it has the potential to affect health negatively.

First and foremost, when we fear emotional intimacy, it can decrease social support. Social health is a part of our overall wellbeing, but it’s rarely mentioned and often overlooked in conversations that relate to health at large. When we think of health, we often think of things like what we eat or how we move our bodies, but this is only a fraction of the equation. The fact is that lack of social support can negatively impact physical and mental wellbeing, leading to elevated stress levels, a higher rate of heart disease, and an increased risk of depression. So, if the fear of emotional intimacy keeps you from letting other people into your life, it could very well impact your body and mind negatively. 

As far as a fear of physical intimacy goes, it may be worthwhile to note that physical closeness can promote health. If it’s something you want but fear, there could be a very real sense of sadness that surrounds that worry, but even more, physical touch can support health, and if you are someone who enjoys physical touch – even that which is non-sexual – you may not want to miss out on the effects. Hugs and cuddling, for instance, can do a great deal for physical health by lowering bodily and psychological stress while releasing happy hormones. 

Fear of intimacy doesn’t just affect your ability to form new bonds, but also, to nurture existing ones. You might be afraid to open up to those close to you, or it could get in the way of physical displays of affection. Even when it doesn’t directly or severely impact your health, fear of intimacy can very much so impact your quality of life. This is reason enough to work to overcome a fear of intimacy, and while this feat can be a challenging one, it is worth it. If you would like to learn more intimacy, you can read medically-reviewed articles on the BetterHelp website.

Overcoming Fear of Intimacy

Often, the first step is to identify where the fear of intimacy comes from or what might affect it. For example, physical intimacy could relate to body image, or the fear of emotional and romantic intimacy could stem from the fear of getting hurt or rejected. It is hard to be vulnerable in those ways, but when it gets in the way of what you want or need in life, it is worth it to address the fear of intimacy. Once you acknowledge this fear, you may reach out to a counselor or therapist who can help you both process your internal thoughts and make external steps to get to where you want to be, or you may take steps on your own. Either way, acknowledging the fear and working through it is often rewarding. You deserve to feel safe being vulnerable and close to others, as it can enhance your life. 

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

 

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