Fear of Intimacy and Vulnerability

avoidant attachment fear of intimacy fear of vulnerability Aug 05, 2021

Being fearful of intimacy and vulnerability is something many people struggle with in relationships throughout their life. Whether it be with friends, siblings, parents, or a partner it can affect any type of closeness you may have with someone or want to have. The barriers that fear of intimacy and vulnerability cause can be hard to accept and even more difficult to push past when defining where these problems lie. 

Being vulnerable with not only yourself but those you have in your life is freeing and can lead you to discover who you are meant to be. As old wounds come up and our tapes play in our heads, feelings of abandonment may surface and leave you feeling stuck in your progress in becoming a healthy adult. How can we acknowledge our feelings of abandonment and fear of intimacy and how can we move past it? 

What Does Fear of Intimacy and Vulnerability Mean? 

Fear of intimacy and vulnerability can have several different layers when pinpointing where in our lives they come up the most. More often than not, it will steam from either physical or emotional abandonment and in some cases, both. Defining when in your life these instances may have occurred can help you figure out the root of your insecure feelings and help you become the strong, radiant person you’re meant to be. 

Physical abandonment is the most obvious one to see. Someone you loved in your life left you unexpectedly, leaving you with the aftermath of navigating your feelings and thoughts and learning how to process all of it. Either your partner left you out of nowhere, or your dad decided not to be a part of your life -- regardless of the situation it’s something you have to recover from. 

It’s predominant in people’s lives and we’re often programmed to “push through it.” Society teaches us that it’s ”not that bad” or we should consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t worse. We should never let the obstacles of others invalidate the experiences we have gone through or are going through. The reality of it is, it is a trauma and we need to learn how to properly heal from it just like anything else.

The other side of this is emotional abandonment, which isn’t always so black and white. This typically comes from a loved one in your life never hearing you, taking the time to understand you, or overall not accepting you as a person. It might’ve borderline emotional abuse at times. This person has never supported or respected you and often pushes you to the side. 

As this happens, your tape begins to form and later in life plays by saying you can never get close with people, even if it was just one specific person who hurt you. You’ll start to believe that you can never trust anyone again, damaging the relationships you have with people in your life. By recognizing that this hurt and damage were caused by one person in your life can kick start your healing journey to become more fulfilled. 

Don’t wait for someone to show you love, show it for yourself first. Your adult self is the one that is playing out your childhood wounds. Emotional and physical abandonment can cause serious emotional harm to the person on the receiving end of it and creates a snowball effect for bigger things later on. 

Overcoming Your Fear

Becoming mindful and aware of what tape you’re playing in your current life based on past experiences can be the awakening you may need to see others' harmful behavior and the way that you hold back. Awareness is a huge factor in being able to reprogram your fears. Ask yourself if you want to keep going down the road you’re headed. Once you begin to work on yourself, you’ll start to become more confident with the process of being vulnerable with others and yourself. 

As soon as you start working on your inner self, things will become easier for you to pick up on. You’ll begin to make better decisions for who you want in your life and see red flags quickly. You’ll notice how people treat you and what you don’t like, and even when someone betrays you, the tools you’re building now will equip you with what you need to handle the situation. Not everyone will be the person you want them to be, and people will still abandon you. The difference is, now you’ll know how to pick yourself back up and be okay. 

Understand that seeing people for who they are and not blaming yourself for their actions is the best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t let others influence who you want to be, and be okay with letting go of past relationships that you may have outgrown. Treat yourself with kindness and recognize that if people want to leave, they will leave but that has nothing to do with you so long as you remain the healthy functional adult you’re meant to be and stay true to your authentic self. 

The only way you’ll be comfortable with showing people who you are, is if you’re comfortable with yourself first. Learn to love and appreciate who you are and accept yourself as a person. As you start to nurture who you are and become more comfortable with yourself, the rest becomes easier to navigate. When you start loving yourself, the real you comes to the surface and people will see that, and then it’ll be easier to see people for who they are. 

As always, be patient with yourself while you are learning how to self-parent and fall in love with who you are. It may take time to truly fall into the routine of building yourself up and breaking barriers down. Vulnerability and trust can be amazing things and getting rid of your fear of intimacy in friends or relationships can greatly help you grow! No matter what happens, as long as you know that you’ll be okay, then you’ll be okay.