What to Do When You’re an Introvert Who Fears Physical Intimacy

A couple in bed

Because of my fear of intimacy, I sabotaged myself in relationships and didn’t believe I was worthy enough to date.

Imagine this: You are madly in love with your significant other and want to show them, but the thought of kissing (or even hugging) them makes you have a mini panic attack

Sound familiar? This fear of physical intimacy was so bad for me that for years, I sabotaged myself in potential relationships and didn’t believe I was worthy enough to date. It was so bad that I only felt comfortable enough to have my first kiss at the age of 21!

This might not sound like a big deal to some people, but as someone who, during her teenage years, watched all her friends date and physically engage with guys, no problem, I felt left out. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. It also didn’t help that I was a Type A person determined to achieve all the “important” teenage milestones by certain ages.

So what was wrong with me?

Social anxiety. I think I’m not the only introvert who suffers from it (even though not all introverts have social anxiety, of course). But it’s annoying when it prevents you from experiencing intimacy in both friendships and romantic relationships.

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Where Does the Discomfort Come From?

When I talk about “physical intimacy,” I’m referring to any act of showing affection or love to another human being that involves getting physical with them. This can include anything from holding hands or cuddling to kissing or getting physical in the bedroom. 

As introverts, we may like to keep to ourselves, and we value our personal space. Naturally, we may feel triggered if it feels like someone is trying to invade that space (even if it’s a loved one). 

Why It’s Bad for Socially Anxious Introverts

The problem is that fear of physical intimacy gets in the way of us having healthy, authentic relationships.

If we are constantly overthinking and panicking at the idea of getting close to someone, we are not living in the present moment. If we are not present, we miss out on a chance to share a unique connection with another human being, which is one of the most beautiful things about the human experience.

The good news: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you! It took me a while to understand that fact. Now that I do, though, I’m intentional about not letting my fear stop me from having good relationships.

Now, if you’re fine with not sharing a lot of physical intimacy, that’s perfectly okay. But if you would like physical intimacy in your relationships, here are some tips.

4 Ways for Introverts to Overcome Their Fear of Physical Intimacy

1. Ask yourself where this fear may come from.

Start by learning more about yourself and how your past experiences might be affecting your life today. Take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself why you think you have this fear of intimacy. 

Did you ever try to get close to someone and they rejected you? Did someone make a negative comment about your appearance? Did someone not respect your boundaries at some point?

Try journaling to get your thoughts on paper so you can analyze them. Consider reaching out to a therapist, because they can help you uncover why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. 

2. Raise your self-confidence.

A great way to tackle whatever issues you may have regarding physical intimacy is to raise your self-esteem and self-confidence. 

I know… how?

One way to do this is to become more physically active. When I started to exercise regularly, I started to feel stronger, more powerful, and like I could literally take on the world. I also love to dance, so I started taking salsa classes and it has greatly helped me tap into my sexy, feminine side! Plus, research shows that being physically active is good for your mind and body.

Also, develop a self-care routine. Do little things just for you: Take a cozy bath, read a good book, or go for a long, phone-free walk.

I like to recite positive self-affirmations every day — I believe in the power of words to manifest my reality. For example, you could say, “I am worthy of love” or “I am enough.” I enjoy this practice, because as much as the aforementioned things help, I believe that true confidence is cultivated from within. We introverts can sometimes struggle with self-confidence.

Are you an introvert who shuts down around the people you’re attracted to?

As an introvert, you actually have the amazing ability to be irresistible, without forcing yourself to talk more. It all starts with recognizing the most common myths about dating and learning a framework for fun, flirty conversations — no extroversion needed. To learn how to connect with your true sensuality, relax, and open up on dates, we recommend Michaela Chung’s online courses for introverted men and introverted women.

3. Learn more about your attachment style.

Learn more about your attachment style, whether you’re secure, avoidant, anxious, or disorganized.

For me, it helped explain why I struggled with intimacy in general, let alone physical intimacy. It was an actual “aha!” moment when I realized that I lean toward the avoidant style. Suddenly it made sense why I tend to keep to myself when it comes to my feelings and why I don’t always want to be up-close-and-personal with others.

Learning about your attachment style will help you figure out healthy ways to navigate your relationships. One book that helped me was Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends by Dr. Marisa Franco. This way, you can learn how your particular attachment style can help you forge better relationships. 

4. Remember: Communication is key.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

I can’t overemphasize the importance of being as open and honest as you can about your struggles with physical intimacy. After all, nobody will know what may or may not bother you if you don’t tell them.

As an introvert, expressing your needs and emotions might feel difficult. Remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect”? The more you expose yourself to uncomfortable situations and conversations, the more comfortable you’ll get. Over time, your body and mind will see that it’s not as big a deal as you made it out to be. Eventually, you will see that expressing your boundaries and needs will lead to healthier and safer relationships.

My fellow introverts, have you also struggled with physical intimacy? How do you manage it? Let us know down below.

Do you struggle with overthinking? If yes, check out my blog, Thoughts From Alfy, where I share life hacks and advice to help my fellow overthinkers live life one thought at a time!

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