Often the relationship seems to start out well, with an intense emotional attraction leading to a deeply felt (but in reality, superficial) connection.But, after a short time, the intimacy avoidant person starts to feel alternately trapped or bored or smothered, then starts a pattern of over-focusing on the new partner’s shortcomings and begins to disengage.Vulnerability is a critical part of intimacy, but the fear of vulnerability can run deep, notes psychologist Emma Seppala in the Psychology Today article "Vulnerability, the Secret to Intimacy." A fear of appearing vulnerable is ultimately a fear of rejection.Yet the fear can lead people to present a false front, which other people read as fake.
While some of these folks may avoid close relationships altogether, some intimacy avoidant individuals do enter into friendships and romances.
The truth, however, is that how we get along with each other is a complex, multi-layered thing – just as likely to be impacted by anxious thoughts or phobias as any other aspect of life.
In fact, because of both the external pressures of the expectations portrayed by modern media and the internal pressures that come with becoming close to someone else, relationships can provide a playing field for strong negative thoughts and emotions.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to focus on how living with social anxiety alters the way in which we treat those closest to us.
As with so much surrounding anxiety, there’s a mix of positive and negative – sure, those nagging doubts about yourself can batter your confidence and make relationships tough to start and maintain, but, at the same time, the strength of your feelings and the power of your emotional awareness means you’re capable of forging great partnerships with loved ones.