Why do some people avoid intimacy and close relationships? Psychologist Lisa Firestone writes on the site Psychology Today that it is often due to one of three reasons.
Some people have a tendency to take a step back when a relationship starts to get too serious. What is this actually due to? Here are three common reasons why some people have difficulty with intimacy, according to psychologist Lisa Firestone.
1. Their attachment patterns prevent them from developing close relationships
According to Firestone, already in childhood we experience so-called attachment patterns which then serve as templates for how we expect people and relationships to work. They also affect how we relate to others.
In Swedish, one of these attachment patterns is called insecure-avoidant attachment. People with this type of attachment pattern tend, according to Firestone, to be “less emotionally available” and instead seek privacy. She writes that they often feel overwhelmed by their partners’ needs, or experience them as an intrusion.
This type of person has often learned to meet their own needs and is usually quite independent. The reason is that as children they did not have their needs met, and therefore developed a sense of shame around their needs.
These people hesitate to trust or open up to others. They may shy away from intimacy or even deny its importance.
2. They are afraid of intimacy
In addition to attachment patterns, one may feel a fear of intimacy for various reasons. Some reasons could be:
- True love makes us feel vulnerable. It can feel uncomfortable to step into the unknown, especially when it involves something that makes us see ourselves with new eyes.
- A new crush can tear open old wounds. Being loved can make us remember how we’ve been hurt in the past—and remind us that we can be hurt again.
- True joy goes hand in hand with true pain. Deep joy or love for another person can also produce a fear of sadness – or a fear of losing our loved one.
- A relationship can change the way we relate to our family. When we bond with a new person, we can feel the bonds with our family members weaken. This can be difficult to deal with, even for people who have a destructive relationship with their family.
3. Their identity is threatened
Sometimes poor self-esteem can result in a person withdrawing from love and close relationships. This may be because you have difficulty seeing your own value, or believing that someone could really care about you.
The bad self-esteem often comes from an inner voice that constantly feeds you with negative perceptions about yourself. This voice makes you feel that you are not worthy of love and often makes you question the feelings of others.
The basis for this is often painful experiences from childhood and critical attitudes to which one was exposed in the past. Allowing oneself to be loved then becomes a challenge for the inner, critical voice. In the end, it’s all about trying to preserve one’s identity, even if this identity has negative signs – because if we get a more positive self-image, then we have to confront the fact that we have been exposed to things that were not okay.
In summary, Firestone writes that it can take a lot of courage to look inward and examine oneself to understand what behavioral patterns may lie behind a fear of intimacy. Doing this, however, can lead to success in reevaluating your views on love and relationships – and also yourself.