Do you experience romantic and sexual feelings, but have a strong impulse to run for the hills at any hint of reciprocation, or when a new relationship grows roots? You may be dealing with two phenomena popularly known as "commitment phobia" or a "fear of intimacy". They may coexist, or you may be fine with relationships but not with sex, or fine with sex but not relationships.
If you're reading this, chances are that you want to know why you're dealing with these feelings. You want to know what causes them, and are hoping to "fix" your feelings so you can go on to have the relationship and sex life you want.
What Causes Fear Of Romantic Relationships?
Lots of different things — and while you'll often know exactly what makes you fearful, or rather perhaps reluctant, it is also possible that the cause is not immediately apparent to you. Some more obvious candidates include:
- Never having been in a romantic relationship before, and having "first time jitters" or simply being unsure if you are ready to take that step.
- Having been in a bad relationship before (or more than one), and being scared that something similar will happen again.
- If your concerns are person-specific rather than general, you may have noticed things, consciously or subconsciously, about the person that tell you that they are not right for you.
- Struggling with social phobia in general.
- Coming from a background filled with stress, whether in your childhood or later on.
- Having low self esteem.
Several of these factors can overlap, of course.
If you keep bumping into this issue and you're not sure what's causing it, therapy is a good bet, because a therapist can help you get to the bottom of the cause of your fear of relationships. Cognitive behavioral therapy has quick results and is often a great starting point.
Fear Of Intimacy
A fear of sexual intimacy, also called genophobia, may have different root causes than a fear of relationships or commitment. The causes can be physical as well as psychological, and include:
- Previous (sexual) trauma, including female genital mutilation
- Pain during sex, which can be caused by a wide variety of issues including vaginismus and childbirth.
- Internalized cultural feelings about sex, including religiously-influenced feelings
If you know or think that your fear of sex is influenced by physical factors, a physical checkup is in order. If the cause of your fear of physical intimacy is emotional, on the other hand, a therapist can help out.
What if you're not scared of physical intimacy as such, but rather repulsed by it? Some people are asexual, and that's fine. If you're happy being single or having an asexual romantic relationship, don't have to take proactive steps to change anything.
A Word Of Advice
While therapy can be extremely helpful to a lot of people, including those with fear and anxiety surrounding sex and relationships, you may already have a lot of the answers yourself. Take a while to think about what could be causing your feelings, and be completely honest with yourself in the process. In the meantime, don't feel pressured — by a (potential) romantic partner or society at large — to engage in activities you don't want to.
Still have something to ask?
Get help from other members!