5 Reasons Men Have Fear of Intimacy

fear of intimacy

Fear of Intimacy

Fear of intimacy in men is big problem for many men. Regardless of how he feels about another person, whether that person is a significant other or someone they are just getting to know, this fear can be paralyzing. A man that is unable to move forward with his feelings runs the risk of emotionally damaging the person he is with – not to mention himself.

There are a number of reasons that men develop a fear of intimacy. In fact, there are too many to list in this one post. What follows are the five “biggies” that come to us from the literature. Some may seem obvious while others may make you pause in reflection. Read them all in order to fully absorb their deeper meaning.

Let’s jump right in!

fear of intimacy five reasons

Five Big Reasons for Intimacy 

1) Childhood Abuse

Intimacy fears from childhood abuse are not uncommon. Any man who has dealt with abuse as a child may find it nearly impossible to open up and develop connections with other people in general. This is true for any type of abuse, too.

Physical, mental, and sexual, they can all lead to intimacy issues later in life. Childhood abuse may also affect other parts of a man’s life, of course. It is devastating and it can cause a man to fear moving forward with what he wants to do. It takes over various parts of his life and he may not be able to control it.

2) Abuse in a Previous Relationship

Of course, another reason for fearing intimacy might be previous abuse in a relationship. If a man dealt with some sort of trauma or otherwise bad experience in a relationship, he might not be willing to move forward like normal.

These types of abuses are not easy to overcome for a lot of people. The more severe the abuse, the harder it is to come out of one’s shell. Even if he feels strong emotions for another person, even if he wants that intimacy, it is not that easy to push forward regardless history and fears.

3) Addiction

Fear of intimacy may arise due to an addiction. Addictions can affect a person’s mind in ways that you may not realize. It is not logical and it is not something that a person can just move on from, even when trying their hardest.

Addictions, especially addictions that the man tries to keep secret, are destructive. This goes with all forms of addiction, too. Alcohol, drugs, sex, and pretty much anything else you can imagine as part of the mix. It takes hold of the person and can get in the way of closeness.

4) Self-Esteem Issues

Poor self-esteem and self-image can affect a man’s readiness for intimacy, as well. If a man does not like the way that he looks, or if he feels he is not deserving of a relationship, he will not want to move forward with one. Poor self-esteem can have a serious effect on the way a man thinks, even if it may not make sense to others.

It is the result of various issues, usually, and can cause a man to not feel comfortable or confident with himself in multiple areas, included intimate situations.

5) Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety can play a major role in intimacy fears. When a man feels that he cannot perform at his best, or when he fears that the other party might not react positively, there is always that fear of trying in the first place. An excellent for of counseling, coaching and therapy for these kinds of issues is called ACT.

This sometimes goes along with self-esteem issues. Some men simply do not think that they can perform the way they want to perform in bed. It is not an issue with the other party, but more an issue with their own issues centered on anxiety and doubt. It is for this reason so many have struggles with issue around intimate physical contact and seek guidance on how to last longer in bed.

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast


  1. HI there.

    I met a wonderful guy a few months ago and we have become close friends. I had the feeling that he felt more than friendship for me and everyone around us has got this vibe too. The thing is, so do I, I have very strong feelings for him and am very attracted to him. This came out recently as he had bailed a few times on meeting up. He told me that he hadn’t initiated due to his low self-esteem that are being triggered by ‘these feelings’ from his relationship with his ex, and I ended up admitting how I felt and he said that he was finding it difficult to deal with these feelings. He then said he didn’t want to ruin what we have because of his weaknesses and past issues and he said that he doesn’t want to be intimate for this reason. I said I would be here for him as a friend, but really, is there anything I can do for him to help him? I know it has to be his journey, he has to find a way to get over this, but what do I do?

    • I’ve had a similar situation, although we met thro a dating site. Our connection was amazing but he began putting himself down. He too spoke of a woman who had lied and clearly had issues and how she dumped him when he was falling in love with her. His dad is dying so I put his low self esteem down to what he was going thro. He would cancel dates but on the occasions we were together it was as if we’d known each other for years. However, last time I saw him he said he felt guilty having fun and needed to be by himself. I sent supportive texts letting him know I was there to ‘pick him up’ (he always said I lifted his spirits) but got no response. A week ago I wished him well and said if he needed someone to ‘listen’ I was there for him. I think you’ve done as much as you can. Letting him know you are there is all you can do. Who knows the mindset of others and the reason behind their fears. Move on with your life; being supportive is one thing, trying to fix someone is another.

  2. My fear of intimacy with women actually shuts down my ability to perform sexually. If I am having sex with a woman I have just met my sexual functioning is fine but if I have sex with her more than a few times it’s like someone turning off a switch, I just totally lose all desire for her. This didn’t bother me when I was single as I just moved from woman to woman. But at age forty after dating dozens of women I felt like I wanted to be part of a family so I got married. Needless to say the sexual dysfunction started even before the wedding. My wife was sympathetic and we decided to visit a therapist. Five years and 4 therapists later my sexual problem still wasn’t fixed and my wife accepted the fact the marriage would be sexless. I always say I gave up sex to get married. That was 25 years ago. I still have a high sex drive but have stayed faithful to her. I figure it’s the least I can do for her sticking with me.

  3. I am 30 years old, and as I remember I have the fear for intimacy for about 7 years. It was different when I was 21-24 as I was in a serious relationship. However now its a bit tricky with women.

    I have read a lot of articles about why is this so, however even if there is no clear answer… I do believe I have self-esteem issues, also I was in emotionally abusive relationship before. On top I am a bit affraid of intimate intercourse, as its like riding a horse. And its been a while since I have ridden one. So both the relationship and sex is a bit scary.

    Also I live in Norway, it is a society that works different than my personal views are. Casual sex, drunk sex and etc is popular among young people and adults. It is very hard to find a person to connect with. And in fact it is a terrible idea when you think about it… I think there should be an emotional backbone to all you do. You meet a nice girl, get her on a few dates, do something fun, I dont know travel some sports, talk open up and have her open up to you… and then perhaps once the emotions build up you have intercourse… make love. And nowadays I feel like my views are relics of the past.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say to anyone reading this article you are not alone. I think there are many men and women suffering from this. Its just we have a different take on relationships, and are more sensitive at this point.

    I do believe, however I can meet a nice girl that will have both the interest and the time needed to domesticate me. haha.

    Well thanks for the article! Have to work on a few issues here. And stay strong fellow shy ones!

Comments are closed.