Love on the Rocks: Fear of Relationships and Intimacy

by | Jun 1, 2023 | All about Love

Freaked out and flirting at the same time? Getting cold feet when things are getting a bit too serious? I’ve got you.

Picture this, you want the cosy cuddles and maybe even a cute nickname, but as soon as things start getting a bit too real and serious, fear creeps in making you question your every move. The phase where you want a relationship but run for the hills when things get a bit too serious.

I can say I’ve unwittingly mastered the art of relationship self-sabotage, leaving a trail of potential romances in my wake. Ask me what I want. I’ll probably respond with an awkward shrug and a bewildered “I don’t even know!” Because I really don’t know. Do I want a relationship? Do I only want a shag? Fuck knows.

What I do know is that the whole idea of a relationship and being emotionally and physically connected to another person is terrifying.

I’ve always been the go-with-the-flow type, and that mantra spills over into my dating life. But that’s the thing, fear of relationship and intimacy can turn into your worst enemy in the dating world, where commitment lockdowns and emotional roadblock lurk in the shadows, waiting for you to hit the emergency fear button. I guess my CoStar was right when it said that I’m scared of intimacy. Jesus, that fucking app really calls you out sometimes.

Where does this fear come from?

Fear of relationships or intimacy is characterised as the fear of sharing a close emotional or physical relationship. People experiencing this fear don’t usually wish to avoid intimacy and relationships, but subconsciously push potential partners away and sometimes even sabotage their own relationships.

Usually, this comes from different types of fears such as fear of abandonment, fear of engulfment which is when you are afraid of being controlled and dominated, or emotional fear where people are afraid to share their feelings with one another. This fear has also a name and that is philophobia.


According to Cleveland Clinic, philophobia is the fear of falling in love, which can also be the fear of getting into a relationship and which can negatively affect your ability to have meaningful relationships. Many people keep their fear to themselves or may not recognise they have it.

While some people can be distrustful of love, we are more likely to identify these fears as concerns over potentially positive outcomes. Positive emotions can sometimes trigger us even more than negative ones. For example, you will be really happy with someone then the sudden feeling of things being a bit too perfect hits you, raising fears of intimacy and increasing the tendency to pull away.

What impact does this have on your love life?

This fear can result in people creating barriers and distancing themselves from their loved ones. Some of the symptoms of philophobia include being unable to have intimate relationships, experiencing high levels of anxiety and constant worry when in a relationship and feeling afraid of their partner or their emotions, which will eventually result in pushing people away and ending a relationship abruptly.

Fighting our fear of falling in love

In the web of fear and intimacy, it’s very important to remember that it’s okay to be scared of relationships and intimacy.

Feel your feelings

Identify your fears about being in a relationship and falling in love and feel them. It’s absolutely fine to be vulnerable, so getting comfortable with receiving and giving love is a first step. Yes, it will be difficult at first to be truly open and honest with your partner, but remember that emotional intimacy is essential to being close to those you care about.

Pick someone worth it

If you had a previous bad experience, it’s important to remember that your current situation is not the same, so don’t expect them to treat you the same way. Be careful about who you choose to be emotionally and physically connected to. Have a look at them and ask yourself if you share the same values. Are they treating you nicely? Can you trust each other? Just because your last experience was rough, doesn’t mean all your future ones will be the same.

So put any overthinking thoughts and feelings of self-doubt aside, and look at the relationship as a whole. Who knows, they might be a great fit for you, so try to don’t push them away just yet.

Read our article on overthinking while dating.

Take your time

I know that sometimes it feels like we are running out of time, especially when you really want something to happen between the two of you but the time is limited and you are too scared. From someone who’s going through this atm, I have to tell you that getting over your fears of intimacy and being in love won’t happen in a snap of the fingers. You don’t have to dive in straight away when you feel the sparks for someone. Take things slow and give yourself time to process your feelings.

So, loves, if you have a fear of relationships and intimacy, you are not alone. Embrace your fear, falling in love doesn’t have to be ugly, it can be an exhilarating process if you let yourself experience it, and when you’re finally willing to take the risk, you’ll find that the reward is entirely worth it.

Edited by Elena Baeza Ruso

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