Being intimate with someone can be defined as the act of being in close proximity to them by any means. Practicing intimacy involves possessing close emotional or physical ties with another individual. Intimacy isn’t always romantic in nature it can also be platonic; with your friends and close confidants. Thus, intimacy issues are the issues that are centered around the lack or absence of intimacy in any intimate relationship.
Most people that tend to have intimacy issues use it as a defense mechanism. Someone who has intimacy issues can try and avoid any signs of exhibiting vulnerability. He/she can be scared of judgment or abandonment, hence taking part in behavior that might diminish the chances of being hurt. Here’s more on intimacy and intimacy issues;
Kinds Of Intimacy
Although intimacy can be categorized as various things, people usually refer to physical or emotional intimacy while participating in this discourse. Physical intimacy as the name indicates is the sort of closeness one practices through physical contact, or essentially through something sexual in nature.
Emotional intimacy on the other hand is centered around the close proximity one experiences on a more emotional or spiritual level. Both kinds of intimacies are equally essential and the inability to practice both can cause extreme distress.
Spotting The Presence Of Intimacy Issues
There are certain dead giveaways one can easily notice in a person with intimacy issues. Even a basic awareness of the topic can help you stay clear and help you identify the problem in a near or dear one. Here are some signs of intimacy issues that you can possibly notice among people struggling with it;
- People with intimacy issues usually tend to be more into serial dating. In addition to this, they can also have a history of short-term relationships. The idea of keeping a long-term relationship scares them which is why they mostly take the other route.
- A person of this sort highly shies away from oversharing. They tend to throw a fit, neglect the matter entirely or have a communication breakdown when anyone tries to discuss mildly emotional stuff.
- An individual of this sort might also try to avoid sharing their personal problems and the happenings in their personal life with others. They tend to have a more private life.
- Someone who’s struggling with intimacy issues might also be struggling with low self-esteem. Their lack of confidence or self-hatred can be pretty obvious in their actions, habits, or conversations.
- The biggest red flag can be the presence of a partner who often accuses them of not being there for them. Their avoidance can usually lead to immense disapproval at the hands of a romantic partner.
- Someone with intimacy issues will always try to remain self-reliant.
- An individual of this kind repeatedly chooses isolation over socialization. This can include; missing out on important social gatherings, family events, etc.
- Intimacy issues can coerce a person into making excessive physical distance. They’ll try their best to avoid physical contact; shaking hands, physical embraces,s, etc.
- He/she might also exhibit a certain wariness towards love or the idea of sex on multiple occasions
Why Do You Have Intimacy Issues?
Growing up under the close observation of guardians who favor emotional proximity can leave a positive impact on a child’s psyche. Meanwhile, someone who has been brought up in entirely opposing circumstances will surely apply the same rules and regulations in his adult life. A dysfunctional upbringing can alter one’s entire psyche or belief system. For a person like this; leaning towards any sort of emotional intimacy is a sign of weakness. He/she might also link emotional expression with judgment or humiliation because they don’t know any better. Thus, it’s entirely possible that your childhood is the root cause behind your intimacy issues.
People that have encountered traumatic experiences linked with the intimacy of any kind can show symptoms for a far longer period. For instance; someone who’s been sexually abused or assaulted in the past, and hasn’t received any therapy, might be scared of any physical intimacy even in consensual circumstances. The mere idea of being touched by another person can serve as a reminder of that traumatic event in their past and cause painful flashbacks. Thus a survivor of sexual abuse can be one of many people that are scared of physical intimacy due to post-traumatic stress.
Trust Issues or Heartbreak
How many of you have struggled with heartbreak in the past? It’s surely a negative experience that can alter the way you think of love, friendship, or bonding of any kind. Receiving betrayal from one or two close confidants in the past can alter one’s belief system for the worst. Once you open up to someone emotionally and make them a part of your life, it’s hard to undo the damage that being betrayed by them does.
The trust issues stemming from such events can make you reconsider the idea of trusting someone else with your feelings ever again. Even when such emotionally damaged individuals forge new relationships or start dating someone again, they try to be more reserved than they once were. Thus, having a history of heartbreak in romantic or platonic circumstances can also cause intimacy issues.
Having low self-esteem or, body dysmorphia is a textbook sign of a person who probably hates himself. People’s insecurities often control their personal lives and how they choose to live their lives. Even the most conventionally attractive people consider themselves ‘not enough. That’s why despite being invested in the idea of being with you, he/she might be too scared of being judged. The things they despise about themselves; personality, physical attributes, etc. can make their belief that if you get to know them on a deeper level, you’ll abandon them. Consequently, one’s lack of self-esteem can be a prominent cause behind intimacy issues.
The Fear Of Losing Control
Having full control over your life, your actions and all your choices is a huge privilege. Not everyone’s born with this privilege and some strive really hard to achieve it. This is why the idea of involving another person in your life so intimately scares them.
An individual who has recently escaped an abusive relationship or a dominant partner could be scared of falling into the same hands yet again. The fact that he/she chooses not to be too emotionally invested in you can be a defense mechanism for her/him. Thus the fear of losing one’s sense of control or balance can also fuel the fear of intimacy in a person.
Intimacy Issues & Their Impact
- Having intimacy issues can leave you with a lingering sense of sadness
- Not practicing your natural instincts; sex, and emotional expression can lead a person into having unsatisfied urges
- People that lack any emotional substance in a highly physical relationship often have a string of relationships that lack any meaning
- One’s personal life suffers greatly because of intimacy issues. It’s almost like a destructive antic that ends long-term bonds with other people.
- Having a string of meaningless relationships or serial dating can leave you unwanted or unappreciated. One can even despise others who have meaningful relationships and struggle with frustration.
4 Coping Strategies That Can Help You Tackle Intimacy Issues
Communicate Your Concerns
If you’re in a relationship despite having intimacy issues then there are a few things you owe to your partner. There’s only so far your partner’s flexible nature can adjust according to your issues. This is why you must try being a bit more communicative with your concerns. Let your partner know what he/she can do to make the relationship more favorable on both ends.
Strategize various matters altogether so both of you can be at peace while you try and find a more long-lasting solution for your intimacy issues. All your partner needs is a little reassurance every now and then, so stay one step ahead when it comes to that. Remember, you have to be more open with your feelings in order for the other party to understand what you are dealing with.
Try yoga or meditation to relieve tension and agitation. If that’s not your style, just setting aside some time for something you enjoy every day should help.
Join A Self Help Group/Forum
Yes, you’re not the only person who’s haunted by their past and struggling with intimacy issues. There are multiple online forums and groups on social media that consist of people going through similar experiences. You can initiate contact anonymously to share your experience or get in touch with others for helpful tips or coping mechanisms. The feeling of belongingness can offer great mental relief.
Physical and Mental Anomalies
In extreme cases having a mental or physical anomaly can lead to intimacy issues. For instance; some anxiety sufferers struggle a lot while doing normal relationship stuff. Even the idea of intermingling with another person can cause extreme stress and turn them totally emotionally avoidant. Although talk therapy can be preferable in such cases, some healthcare professionals also prescribe supplemental medication for relief. Consequently, helping an anxious person ease up to the idea of intimacy.
On the other side of the spectrum, a person who’s struggling with a physical deformity or any anomaly that makes them feel less desirable might not prefer physical intimacy. For instance; men struggling with erectile dysfunctionality are often too ashamed and less vocal about their issues. As a result, they try to avoid this subject and keep physical intimacy at bay with their significant others.
Set Reminders To Cut Yourself Some Slack
We can be too unkind to ourselves without even realizing it. Issues centered around emotional or physical intimacy can be hard to adjust to and often cause frustration. After a while, this sort of stress can lead you into becoming exceptionally sick of your own mistakes and the losses you encounter because of these intimacy issues. Set reminders to practice much more self-care and to be kinder to yourself. You’re only working your way through these things. So, take things one day at a time. Beating yourself up will only amplify your concerns.
Intimacy Issues: A Long-term Solution
Now that we have established that one’s past can be a massive contributor to his/her intimacy issues, it’s also essential to identify a long-term solution for this. Cognitive behavioral therapy conducted under the supervision of a licensed therapist can conjure up great results. Therapy can unearth so many memories of the past that are directly contributing to intimacy issues in your present life. During therapy sessions, you and a therapist can unearth the cause behind your negative framework and analyze where exactly the fear of intimacy began.
Couples that are struggling with physical or emotional intimacy often find great comfort in couple’s counseling too. It’s a long-term solution in some scenarios but some people tend to continue it even after their matters are sorted. Couples counseling provides two individuals the space to bring their valid concerns to the table.
By doing this they can discuss the cause behind the lack of intimacy in their relationship. Consequently, leading up to a solution to that issue. For instance; if one of the partners has been unfaithful in the past, which is now causing physical intimacy issues, counseling can help both individuals land on a single solution.
Every now and then, give yourself a gentle push to get out of this not-so-comfortable zone. You can start by slowly picking up some habits that involve being emotionally or physically intimate. Talk to a new person around you every now and then as that can gently peel away your emotional and social envelope. Everything will start sorting out gradually but for that to happen you ought to seek professional assistance and apply whatever you’ve learned in your everyday life.