Now the hard work begins. The first step in overcoming fear of intimacy is to determine where you are on the spectrum. If your fear of intimacy feels extreme, you should seek professional help. It is difficult work, but it will be essential to your ability to develop and maintain a healthy long-term love relationship.
If your fear is milder and you would like to start working on it yourself, try the methods below. If at any point you start to feel overwhelmed, seek professional counseling, because it might be too much for you to work on alone.
Here are some steps to help you recognize, learn and start working on your fears of intimacy:
Start reading everything you can about intimacy. There is a ton of research and guidance, and it’s important to find authors who speak to you. If you enroll in my program you’ll get a reading list of books that I’ve found helpful.
Explore YOUR EMOTIONS AND TRUE SELF
Writing is an excellent way to start exploring your emotions: sadness, anger, resentment, grief or emptiness. Explore your feelings and write about your past relationships with caregivers and others from your 20s to the present. Exercises in DateWise program will walk you through what to write about and offer suggestions on how to let go of the past.
Recognize YOUR SIGNS, HABITS AND PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR
Go through the signs discussed in the previous blog and notice which ones you relate to most. What are the key ones that might be keeping you from intimacy? Consider other ways you might be hiding. Think back to each significant past relationship and write about your behaviors.
LEARN WHOM TO TRUST
As you become more conscious of your patterns, you’ll begin to notice when you are repeating them. If you tend to share too much with men before you know them well enough, pay attention to your urge to open up. Before you do, pause and evaluate if they seem trustworthy. If you’re having trouble discerning who is trustworthy, seek professional help, because it’s a key part of developing an intimate relationship.
Take BABY STEPS TO SHARING
Once you feel confident in identifying people you can trust, choose one thing to share with someone. Choose someone who is capable of listening actively without giving advice, and tell them that’s what you’re seeking. Just talking might reduce your fear and allow you to open up more. If this feels too risky or you are uncertain whom you can trust, seek professional help.
ASK FOR SUPPORT
Throughout the process, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might discover you need help learning about healthy boundaries, making healthy choices, dealing with addictions or overcoming control issues. Or maybe you need guidance in how to be more honest and intimate with yourself.
As you become more aware of your own fear of intimacy and you begin to work through the process of overcoming your fear, you will likely begin to notice this fear in others in your life, including the men you date. The next blog Does your potential partner fear intimacy? may be helpful so that you don’t waste time dating someone who likely won’t stick around for the long term.