Fear of Intimacy Ruined an Engagement and the Hope of a Long Term Relationship

Fear of Intimacy Ruined an Engagement and the Hope of a Long Term Relationship

April 10th, 2015 Comments Off
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Now You Want Me, Now You Don't!. Fear of Intimacy book.

Tracy, a thirty-three-year-old web designer longed to settle down with a good man, get her family to bond with his, and then have children. She had found decent men in the past, but they didn’t want to settle down in the time frame she had in mind. Other men had been acceptable but had addictions outside the relationship that made them emotionally unavailable to her. So she went in and out of romantic liaisons, hoping to find the right match. They were both safe, because she didn’t have to invest in them and then end up devastated down the road.


As Soon As Things Looked Perfect Tracy Became Uncomfortable

But now she was in love with thirty-five-year-old Phil who seemed to want what she wanted – the family life, a faith that was important to both of them, and strong ties to their families of origin. Everything looked good until she stayed with his family while Phil was away on a work assignment. She heard about his ex-girlfriend and how close they had been. In fact she was still a family friend. The idea of it made Tracy uncomfortable. She was also uneasy about the way Phil eased right back into the closeness with his mother on his return. His attempts to resume emotional intimacy with her felt wrong! How could he be close with his mother and her? How could he be good friends with his ex while romantically involved with her?


Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy book.


Red flags went up and she took note.

Tracy just didn’t feel safe. She stepped away from the relationship to protect herself against what she felt was a betrayal. In her eyes, Phil could only be ‘giving himself’ to one person at any one time. If she was his woman then he couldn’t be close with anyone else for any reason.

But Phil and Tracy had strong feelings for one another. They got engaged and started planning a wedding. Everything was going great, and that made Tracy happy but terrified. She was hurtling along into a union where she was going to be investing her whole being. She felt vulnerable and unsafe again. Focusing her anxiety on investigating Phil’s spending on credit cards she discovered that during a hiatus in their relationship, he had sent flowers and booked a weekend getaway for two! That was all she needed to see ANOTHER RED FLAG.

She broke off the engagement and suffered with many tears of sorrow, feeling let down and unable to trust Phil. But she felt safe.

Closeness and intimacy were existential threats to Tracy. Each time she came to the brink of having to ‘give herself’ completely to another she felt unsafe and found reasons why the guy wasn’t the right one.

Fear of intimacy was the key threat to her personal integrity. She couldn’t invest everything because it would mean living with unpredictability, no guarantees and unknown risks. Better to dig and find something, anything that she could legitimately use as a reason to back off.

But Tracy cried and cried out of loneliness.

She couldn’t trust the world to be solid under her feet.

Tracy is now stepping in and out of therapy because she knows there is a pattern to her behavior where she destroys potential joy in order to hold onto the reins of safety. She feels she gets in her own way, but isn’t sure how to move out of this fearful place.

As she works out her fears in therapy, she will learn to trust the outside world in the same way she trusts her family of origin to keep her safe. But it will come first with a good therapist to mediate that gap.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

 You might also like:

Why Your Ideal of a Perfect Marriage Causes Your Finance to Break off the Engagement

Is Your Relationship Break up Permanent or Just a Shift in Gears?

Perfectionism Maybe Ruining Your Intimate Relationships


Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond



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