There are many concepts that make up the relationships we have with people, and one of those words is intimacy. This post will explain more about this concept and what you can do if you fear intimacy.
What is Intimacy?
When you hear that someone is intimate with another person, you may imagine a steamy relationship. Many people will associate intimacy with sex, or with a romantic relationship, but this is just a part of the intimacy definition.
In the simplest terms, intimacy is how close you feel with someone. You build intimacy when you speak to people, get to know them better, feel empathy for them, and open up. It doesn’t have to include a sexual relationship. You can be intimate with your friends, family, or even a casual acquaintance.
It’s physical, it’s mental, and it’s emotional. In fact, there are many different types of intimacy that one may feel. Let’s look at them.
Knowing what type of intimacy you experience with someone can tell you a lot about your relationship with them. Let’s look at some intimacy types, shall we?
This is any form of intimacy that involves touch for the most part. Again, sex comes to mind at first, but any form of physical touch that increases the bond you have with that person can be this. Hand holding, dancing, hugging your friends, the list goes on and on.
You may notice that we said, “for the most part.” Physical intimacy can include activities where you’re physically close to a person, but not touching. For example, sitting next to each other in the movie theater, or stargazing. This is an important form of intimacy, as people who live in cultures that are not as touchy may have a hard time expressing this.
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This involves supporting each other emotionally. From expressing your emotions to a person to being there when you feel upset, emotional intimacy can build from that.
This is perhaps a form of intimacy that is much more important than others, as emotional intimacy is both more required and easier to give. You can give emotional intimacy to a friend who is texting you to talk about how they and their significant other broke up.
Meanwhile, if you feel no emotional connection to your friend or partner, then your relationship is doomed unless you seek help.
This is when you can share your opinions and ideas about the world without feeling challenged. When you’re friends with people, you may notice points of view different from your own. Intellectual intimacy involves listening to people’s points of views and possibly challenging it if you disagree. If you have strong intellectual intimacy, you can debate a person while still being good friends with them.
This form of intimacy involves sharing an experience with someone. If you’re in a relationship, then chances are you have some experiences, from going on a vacation to watching shows together. You have experiential intimacy with your childhood friends who you went to school together.
Finally, we have this form of intimacy. This can refer to you two sharing the same spiritual beliefs and feeling a bigger connection as a result, but it can have a secular definition as well. It can refer to how your partner is involved with your own sense of self. Your partner shares the same beliefs as your self and you practice the same activities together, be it prayer or just the same daily rituals. If there is spiritual disagreement, spiritual intimacy can involve a compromise.
Intimacy can be something that has plenty of issues surrounding it. Let’s look at some of them.
Intimacy helps relationships build, but as people change and the intimacy goes missing, it can cause people’s relationships to sour. One example of missing intimacy is when there’s sex issues in a relationship. Another example is when two friends drift apart until they lack any emotional connection.
Sometimes, missing intimacy is just a part of life. Other times, it may be due to an issue that is fixable. For example, sex issues can be fixed through medicine or therapy. Meanwhile, a group of old friends having a night together just like the old times can help to restore that intimacy.
Fear of Intimacy
When it comes to fears, it’s possible for someone to fear anything, and the fear of intimacy is all too common. It can affect different types of intimacy, and it can be a natural character flaw or due to another form of trauma.
For example, someone who suffered abuse may have a hard time being physically or emotionally intimate with another person. Someone who is social distancing may fear physical intimacy because of getting a virus. Meanwhile, someone who has a hard time expressing their beliefs may struggle with emotional intimacy.
The fear of intimacy can cause people to struggle with making friends. If someone is afraid of opening up emotionally, it may result in difficulties having close bonds with anyone.
If you fear intimacy, it’s important for you to take a critical look at yourself. Why do you fear intimacy? Was it due to something in the past? Is there any way to fix it? Quite often, exposure therapy may be the solution to this. For example, if you fear being physically intimate, you may slowly chip away at your fears by getting close to someone first, then doing something innocuous like touch them with your hand.
If you have intimacy problems, there’s no shame in talking to a therapist about it. Most therapists can help you find the root of your problem and help you to find solutions for your intimacy fear. Some therapy websites help with couples who have intimacy problems, such as ReGain.
Intimacy makes the world go around. Look at your friends and relationships and think about the intimacy you share with them. Can you improve it? If so, do it.