How to overcome intimacy fears and bridge more connections with your partner
This is the second installment in a 2-part article series about struggles with intimacy that are relatively common in gay relationships. In Part 1 of the series, "intimacy freak-out" was defined and the reasons why gay men are prone to this phenomenon were discussed. This article will address some of the common intimacy fears that could block your potential for true connection with your partner and will offer some tips for enhancing your comfort with intimacy to help you achieve ultimate relationship bliss!
The "Freak-Out" Checklist
In my training and work with gay men, I have found some common intimacy fears that can prevent us from experiencing the depths of fulfillment that love can offer. Take a look through this list of fears to determine if there may be anything getting in the way of your ability to be uninhibited and free with your lover. Identifying your emotional blocks to intimacy is the first step toward freeing yourself from their grip. Add your own to the list.
_____ fear of abandonment
_____ fear of rejection and being neglected
_____ fear of engulfment or being suffocated/smothered
_____ fear of loss of control
_____ threatened by loss of personal freedom
_____ fear of being disappointed or "let down" by partner
_____ low self-esteem, fears of not being "good enough"
_____ fear of affection and sex
_____ fear of exposure, of being known for who you really are
_____ difficulties with trust
_____ difficulties expressing one's emotions/feelings
_____ fear of failure
As you can see, any one of the above intimacy fears can stifle you to the point that you're not fully able to be "at one" with a partner because you're holding yourself back. Fear may be too strong a word for some of the items---any hint of uneasiness or discomfort is indicative of an "issue" of some form. While it's important to have boundaries and protect yourself from emotional harm, these characteristics can act as a barrier to experiencing love to its fullest capacity if they become a patterned response.
In addition to these fears, it might be helpful to examine some of the contributing factors that led to the anxiety in the first place. Here are some questions to ponder to get you started in looking at how the difficulties with intimacy you may have could have developed.
·How did your parents show affection and intimacy when you were growing up?
·Any childhood wounds, abuse, or loss from the past that make relationships difficult?
·Any unresolved family-of-origin issues that create baggage for you?
·Are you unable to grieve and "let go" of the break-up of a prior relationship?
·How about internalized homophobia? Low self-esteem?
·Any negative experiences with other males growing up that left an imprint on you?
Whether you're partnered or single, knowledge of your intimacy blocks and contributing factors can help empower you in defeating them so you can have the most ultimate relationship possible.
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