Coping with Fear of Intimacy

Aquarius, to cope with your fear of intimacy, you must first evaluate the following:

1. What is intimacy to you? Do you want it? Do you have it?

2. If you want it and don't have it, what are you prepared to do about it?

3. How do your values in general affect your personal life? Do you feel close to your friends? Are you comfortable asking them for a big favor? Do you reveal yourself to your mate or your current boyfriend? What are some of the defensive distancing devices you use? We all have some, and we all use them just about automatically. They are like the techniques Shirley MacLaine devised to "conquer those feelings that made me uncomfortable."

There are some basic things we all tell ourselves that block our self-disclosure.

Aquarius, you tend to use these as your first line of defense:

3. They'll make fun of me, criticize me.

4. I might intrude.

5. They might leave me.

6. They'll find out I am not perfect.

7. They'll see how scared I am.

The need for intimacy is basic in both men and animals. If this need is unmet in infancy, our ability to function sexually as adults is impaired. This was shown dramatically by the Harlow experiments with baby monkeys.

In one experiment, the researchers put infant monkeys with two "mothers." One was made of wire and was the source of milk. The other was covered with cloth. The monkeys mosdy played with the soft cloth mother, cuddling and asking for affection. They would leave only with great reluctance to obtain milk from the wire figure. These monkeys, raised without warm, loving, intimate contact, grew up physically, but in a sense they never became adults. They could not love and were sexually dysfunctional to the point where not one could even assume the correct posture for intercourse. The researchers concluded that intimacy is an essential part of an infant's sexual education and that sexual functioning depends on emotional wholeness.

Everyone has a hunger for love, touching, cuddling, petting, for emotionally satisfying physical contact. The need for intimacy, however, is rarely acknowledged beyond early childhood. Most of us learn to be dysfunctional, much as the monkeys did, by repeatedly absorbing our socialization lessons too conscientiously. We learn to block our own impulses toward tenderness, for we are taught to surrender them to taboos against incest, homosexuality, bisexuality, the Oedipus complex, the Electra complex, etc. We withhold affection for fear of spoiling our children and spoiling ourselves, for fear of being "unrealistic" or "overly emotional." Power struggles start in the cradle, where we are taught to suppress natural emotions in favor of societal role playing.

The Aquarius Woman, being an outstanding student, learns these prohibitions against intimacy only too well. Perhaps one reason she instinctively seeks out large groups is so she can interact with as many mirroring personalities as possible. The bigger the group, the more social mirrors she has and the more she learns.

Aquarius, here are more practical suggestions on coping with intimacy. However, intimacy is so complex, such a charged interaction, that if you feel you have serious difficulties, I advise you to see a counselor or therapist. Some of the techniques that follow are in fact best done in a therapeutic setting.

1. This is a gestalt exercise. Take two chairs, and put yourself in one chair, your fear of intimacy in another. Talk to your own fear. Switch chairs each time you assume a different role (you or your fear alone). Record the session so that you can listen to your tape later and muse on the insight that is sure to emerge.

2. To learn more about your inner self, describe yourself as an animal, a cloud, a tree, a child, a color. Do this verbally to get the hang of it; then write it all on paper. Refer to your descriptions from time to time, especially when you are dealing with intimacy. Share them with your mate or friends.

3. When in doubt about how you feel, hum a song. Choose the words to it. If you are in an emotional bind, this is an especially quick way to tap into your real feelings.

4. Pay attention to the seemingly inconsequential thoughts that enter your mind, especially when you are discussing intimacy issues. Also try free association, with or without your partner. Completing the sentence "I fear..." is one way. What does this chapter make you think of? How does this section make you feel?

5. Be aware of how and when you hold back. If you want to reach out to touch someone and at the last minute stop yourself, be aware of this. You'll have a choice the next time: you can touch, or you can stop yourself from touching. Also be aware of how and when you hold back verbally. Exercises 3 and 4 will help.

6. Be as honest as you can about your secret thoughts and how they may affect your intimate behavior. Review past actions as old scripts need to be periodically updated and revised. Remember that guilt, shame, and fear tend to lift in the daylight of honest evaluation. (See "Libra Relationships" and "Scorpio Relationships" for further advice on specific communication skills.)

7. Here is a good exercise if you want to know exactly who is important to you. Grab all the pillows you can and place them within your reach. Put yourself in the middle of the room. Then take the pillows one by one, designating each as a person. This person can be alive or dead, as long as she/he is important to you. By the time you finish, you will know who has priority in your life, who is closest to you, who is more distant. You will tend to place each pillow exactly as close or as far as you feel to or from the person that pillow represents.

8. Sexual intimacy is an important aspect of feeling close. See "Aquarius Sexuality" for a discussion of this topic.

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  • callie
    How to cope with fear of intimacy?
    2 years ago
  • nazzareno
    How to cope with boyfriend's fear of intimacy?
    11 months ago

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