My Fear Of Intimacy Has Ruined All Of My Relationships

I’ve always considered myself an independent person, but I had no idea that it was just a cover up for the deep-seated fear that has ruined most of my relationships. I know I need to open up more, but here are all the ways my worries about being vulnerable have kept me single:

  1. I’m guarded even in my most intimate relationships. Looking back on my most “intimate” relationships, I remember holding back information about myself or how I really felt about something because I was afraid of being judged. And this isn’t on the first date; this is months, even years into the relationship. My partners probably picked up on it and thought I didn’t want to get too close, which was probably one of the reasons why the relationships ended.
  2. I like to keep my secrets to myself. I’m a very private person — ask any of my friends. It takes a lot to open up, and unfortunately, not everyone is willing to wait for me to feel comfortable enough to reveal my secrets. I have a feeling that I’m going to be taking a lot of things to my grave rather than opening up to a partner about them.
  3. I’m the one who always sets the boundaries. When I’m in the beginning phases of dating someone new, I’m the first one to set the ground rules for how often I’m willing to see them and in what circumstances. I’ll just come out and say that I don’t want to sleep over or I don’t want to hang out, but I won’t give a reason. I have this need to keep myself at an arm’s length at all times.
  4. I’ll often choose to be alone than to spend time with my partner. In past relationships, I’d constantly be telling my partner that I needed alone time — honestly, I enjoy being alone even more than I like being with other people. I’m now starting to see how that can come off as low-key rejection.
  5. I’ll sometimes flirt with people in front of my partner to assert my independence. To keep the relationship from getting too intimate, I would flirt with other people in front of my partner as if to say “look how much I don’t need you”. I don’t even realize why I’m doing it at the time, but it all comes back to that fear of getting too close.
  6. I’m afraid of being “found out”. What if I tell my partner something and they make fun of me because of it, or even worse — break up with me? It’s happened to me before where I decided to be totally real and intimate with someone and it completely back-fired. To keep that from happening again, I just don’t say anything at all and hope they never question me.
  7. I never say “I love you” first. I would rather die than put myself in that extremely vulnerable position of professing my love first. I can’t trust that my partner will say “I love you” back, so I just wait for them to do it. It kinda makes it seem like I’m not really in love with them.
  8. It takes me months to consider being exclusive with someone. I’m not the kind of person who falls in love at first sight. I’m very wary about who I date and whether I can fully trust them. Sometimes that trust never comes, but I become exclusive with them anyway. It never turns out well.
  9. I take “playing hard to get” to an extreme. I can’t even tell you how many relationships I’ve missed out on all because I played “extremely hard to get”. In the moment, I think I’m doing it just to play a game, but it’s really because I don’t trust them.
  10. I know that it all stems from low self-esteem. In the end, it’s all because I don’t accept myself. This is why I’m so afraid of being judged by my partner who supposedly loves me unconditionally. I know that I’ll eventually get over it, it’s just going to take time — and a lot of self love.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.