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