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You Aren't Alone: Overcoming Fears of Physical and Emotional Intimacy

Updated on April 16, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Taking the time to understand one another is more important than rushing to find out more surface information about each other.


There are many individuals out there in the world who are struggling with their fears of emotional and physical intimacy. I want those individuals to know that I'm right there with them, and there is no need to feel embarrassed nor ashamed for how you feel. You are not alone in this struggle to overcome your feelings, and though the solutions are equally uncomfortable to the fears that does not mean you cannot conquer them.

Go Salsa Dancing With Your Insecurities

When I lay in bed at night mulling over my many follies of the day, and even further my entire life, I often find myself thinking about how uncomfortable it is to be physically and emotionally intimate with those closest to me. I'm always trying to overcome these feelings, and for the most part I think I have succeeded. The first step to this was the hardest, however, because it involved becoming secure with my insecurities.

I'm a well endowed man both in physique and intelligence, and though I do not like to toot my own horn it is an important part of self-love to be able to accept my positive qualities. What makes me insecure is my body dysmorphia, a disorder that makes me see my body as much less attractive and desirable than it is. Where others see a man with no need for confidence problems in any category, I see a weak, fat, malformed human who'd be better off dying in a ditch than showing themselves in public.

Nothing could be further from the truth and I quickly, and often need to eliminate such thoughts by grounding myself in reality. It takes a heck of a lot of assistance from my partner because I ask that she does not compliment me unless I request it, so as to assist me in avoiding obsessive scrutiny of myself; and when I do ask for it she has to be completely honest. In being completely honest with me about my appearance it allows me to decide whether or not I am being rational with my own perceptions, thus learning through the perception of others how it is I truly look and appreciating my own opinion if I do not like theirs.

This takes a lot of trust in others and yourself, and you cannot punish them or yourself unjustly for telling the truth. Ensure that you do not become upset when others compliment you, nor when they criticize you if they are not seeking to hurt you intentionally. More importantly is telling yourself that you are fine the way you are, and recognizing your positive traits where they exist rather than constantly trying to change your perceived negative traits.

It is all about taking a logical approach to your problems, and recognizing illogical thoughts and behavior.


Let's Get Physical

When I say, "Let's get physical," I don't necessarily mean go out and force yourself to immediately get down and dirty with the nearest willing stranger, no, that's silly and dangerous. As I said at the end of the last section we need to take a logical approach to our problems and address our illogical behaviors. Whether it be a doctor, friend, lover, family member, or some other form of trusted confidant you should openly discuss your concerns with physical and emotional intimacy.

For almost seven straight years my girlfriend and I have not had a real cuddle and make-out session, and despite her enjoyment of such intimacies she put her desires aside for my comfort. Only recently did it come to light that I wanted to work on the physical and emotional aspects of intimacy, and I learned that she is much more understanding of it than I had recognized. Just because she is open and accepting of everything I feel, it does not mean that I don't feel totally humiliated by my own thoughts.

For almost seven straight years my girlfriend and I have not had a real cuddle and make-out session.

For the first time in almost seven years my girlfriend and I decided to make-out. It was like being in sixth grade all over again, sitting there giggling as we pulled away in shyness. I was blushing bright red and felt so uncomfortable, especially as our son sat and watched Sesame Street right behind us.

It was a big step I am still not sure I am ready to take frequently, but it definitely reignited her passions for me and that was a reward well worth the strain it put on my psyche. I say it put strain on my psyche and that I am not ready for it regularly, but that is because when I kiss or hug someone it is like being locked inside of a small, hot box. Claustrophobia is a very similar set of symptoms to the way physical and emotional intimacy makes me feel.

Nonetheless it is up to me to overcome these feelings through recognizing the positive outcomes of overcoming such limitations. When the reward is greater than the risk it is pretty easy to convince our brains that the actions we take are worth it despite the discomfort they cause, and if you can make the seeking of that rewarding feeling a habit then you soon see the sting of your fears fade into the background.


Positive Influences

Due to the severe abuse I suffered growing up I often found myself surrounded by people, willingly, who really were not in my best interest and my view of friendship and support was absolutely skewed. You need to ensure that any influence in your life is that of positive demeanor and upward growth for you personally. That could mean losing some of the closest people in your life because you recognize they are actually a detriment to your health.

I kept my family in my life up until about half a year ago, because I thought they had my best interests in their minds behind all the abuse they dished out. Turns out that anything they offered me was simply to control my life, and hide the fact that their intentions were purely selfish and based in manipulation. I only have three friends now in the entire world, and for a while I questioned my best friend's intentions.

I questioned my best friend's intentions because his personality is so shifty he could be one-hundred people in one body. In order to discern whether or not he was a positive influence in my life I needed to look at the results he produced in my life as a whole. Despite his shifty set of personalities, any time we speak he is promoting whatever it is that makes me happy at the time and trying to make me happy. He is also the only one outside of my girlfriend and son who regularly checks on me and my well-being just because he is concerned for my health.

Take that step to rearrange your life, the discord is only temporary and you're worth the effort.


Things Will Start Looking Up

If you can bring yourself to accept yourself, discuss and confront your problems, and surround yourself with positive influences then you'll soon see your physical and emotional intimacy fears fading away. Mind you, this can be a very slow and uncomfortable process and it is important not to place expectations upon yourself. Just addressing the problems in your own mind in a constructive manner, without beating yourself down undeservedly, is a huge step in the right direction.

Don't ever compare yourself to the successes of others if it does more harm to your motivation than it does good. One small step at a time is all that is really needed, and each small step forward is another guarantee to yourself that things are looking up. Should you stumble every now and again, even often, that is fine because I'm stumbling right along with you.

Let's keep being clumsy, stumbling on this path to healing, and root for each other's success!


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    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      12 months ago from California

      Thank you for being so kind and generous with your words, Miss Dora!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      "Stumbling on this path to healing." So much within that image of stumbling. There's nothing glamorous about it; but the stumbler does not give up and abort the healing. Applause! Applause! Thanks for sharing with such honesty and desire to help others.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      12 months ago from California

      Thank you, Jpanaro!

    • Jpanaro982 profile image

      Jennifer Panaro 

      12 months ago from Eastchester

      This was a great topic. So many people in relationships have fears of emotional and physical Intimacy especially when starting a new relationship. Your advice really helped curved any road blocks one might have in that area. Keep up the great work!

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      12 months ago from California

      Thank you, Zulma, you have a safe and fun weekend as well!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      I too admire your courage in writing about these issues. My own childhood was less than stellar and I sympathise with you. But you haven't let that stop you from working towards a better life and that certainly deserves respect.

      Have a good weekend.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      Absolutely, Meg, and thank you for your kind words and input. Many people I have met have intimacy issues due to their own skewed perceptions about themselves and their body, and that is usually due to the idea that you can't support an unhealthy person loving themselves while they're unhealthy. When we are unhealthy that is when we need the most support, so that we may get to the point where we are healthy enough to support ourselves.

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      13 months ago from Northern Ireland

      This is very open and plain speaking and must have taken a lot to put down with such frank intimacy. I applaud your courage and your willingness to think about and discuss such issues. It is important for everyone to think about how they appear to themselves and others and whether their views are skewed.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      It is important that overweight people not be supported for being overweight, but for being okay with themselves for having gained that weight. I can't stand promotion of obesity as "okay" or "standard" but that doesn't mean I look down on them, and that is the key. We can be kind to unfit individuals, all the while promoting a healthier lifestyle and supporting them in their progress toward that goal!

      As for jumping into bed with a stranger, from my perspective, it is about releasing a primal urge and having some guilt-free fun. A bit like playing a video game. Though, I will admit, we only invite others into our bedroom infrequently and after we get to know them. Absolute strangers rarely get a chance to get close to us in such a way.

      I still struggle with my intimacy problems, but I'm quickly moving on my way to overcoming them completely!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      13 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Your article is an eyeopener for anyone with this type of feelings. As a nurse, I've seen very thin people who saw themselves fat when they dared to look in a mirror. I think we are beginning to see more overweight people be proud of who they are. It is not healthy to be overweight, but at least they are not hiding. Loving one's self is the key and the first step. About intimacy, how anyone can jump in bed with a stranger is a mystery to me. It takes loving someone to cuddle. I am sorry for the abuse you had as a child, I'm afraid it's never completely forgotten, but we can rise above it, and hopefully you have. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      13 months ago from California

      Exactly, Mitara, never hold back who you are for the sake of others if it means damaging yourself. We cannot make progress if we do not seek to make it, and loving the self is a wonderful first step even when we stumble!

    • MitaraN profile image

      Mitara N 

      13 months ago from South Africa

      There are many factors that confront, influence and affect a persons being in life.

      It's only human to stumble, but that's a stepping stone further from where you were.

      Being your own fan and loving yourself, makes you who you are, this aura radiantly reflects for people to know who and see who you are.

      Be true to yourself, and success will follow...


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