Terrified of Intimacy

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am 22 years old and have never been in a relationship. I have often tried to get close to someone, but whenever it approached ‘third base’ and became more intimate, I run scared. I have tried many times to move past this fear, but I always find something wrong with the guys I’m with or find an excuse in my life to call it off.

I have not suffered any sexual trauma, but I find I identify with women who have been, which makes me feel bad, since I haven’t had my body invaded upon like others have. I have a strong craving to be in a healthy relationship, but being with someone terrifies me, which is rather frustrating. I have men as friends and am perfectly comfortable with men, as long as it isn’t romantic. My parents have a healthy relationship, and they have only had a positive influence on me. I cannot account for the reasons, but somehow I am struggling with this side of me. What can I do?

A: I worry that you are putting too much pressure on yourself. I know. I know. The media and the general culture all suggest that if you haven’t found true love by the time you are out of your teens, there is something wrong with you. But you know what? Lots of people don’t find the right person to love until well into their twenties; sometimes later.

It just may be that the reason you don’t go further sexually is that in your heart you know the guy isn’t the right one. Maybe you are a woman who only wants to be that intimate with someone who loves her and cherishes her and wants to be with only her. It’s at least a possibility. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If you’ve been over the moon in love with someone and still couldn’t be intimate, it’s another matter. In that case, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist who can get your whole story. I’ve only got a short letter to go on. A few sessions with a therapist could help you figure out if there is a deeper issue. If so, the two of you could then talk about how you could make some changes.

Please remember that you are only 22. You have plenty of time to find the right partner.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Terrified of Intimacy. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/01/terrified-of-intimacy/

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