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Title: Overcoming Fears of Intimacy Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: © 2005 by Margaret Paul URL: http://www.innerbonding.com Word Count: 749 Category: Relationships
Overcoming Fears of Intimacy Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Sam, age 42, had never been married. It’s not that Sam had never fallen in love. But every time a relationship had started to move toward commitment, Sam ran.
When Sam’s loneliness became overwhelming to him, he called me for help.
“I want to be in a relationship, yet every time I get close to someone, I run away. I’m not even sure what I’m so afraid of, but I must be terrified of something!”
“Sam, what happens inside you when you like someone?” The following answer and resulting dialogue came out over time, but I’ve condensed it here.
“I think that if this person really knew me, she wouldn’t like me. I do all kinds of nice things for her so she will like me. Then after a while I start to feel trapped and I pull back. She gets upset about my pulling back and I then feel even more trapped. Once she gets mad at me, I stop feeling in love with her. That’s when I decide she is not right one for me. This has happened over and over.”
“So first problem is that you believe that she won’t like you when she gets to know you. Out of your fear of rejection, you try to control how she feels about you by doing nice things for her. But then you feel trapped and your fear of engulfment – of being controlled by her and losing yourself in relationship – kicks in. Then you run. It sounds like your underlying fears of rejection and engulfment are controlling your life and not letting you share love.”
“That’s exactly right! So what do I do about this?”
Sam was operating from core shame – false belief that there was something basically wrong with him. As long as he believed that he was inherently flawed and unlovable, he would fear rejection. Out of his fear of rejection, he would give himself up until he felt trapped, and then he would run.