The Top 5 Reasons for Intimacy Issues in Relationships

People in today’s world of love and dating are facing intimacy issues in relationships 1with their partners. Intimacy is not just limited to being romantic; it is beyond that. One can have an intimate relationship with their family, friends, and sometimes even therapists. To have intimacy with someone means to be completely yourself, to be vulnerable, to be sharing, to be emotional, and to have a particular understanding. Intimacy is also a means to have a sexual connection, but it is not always that.

Intimacy makes a relationship strong, and it is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy relationship.2 Without any intimacy between partners, conflict arises, misunderstanding develops, and the feeling of loneliness prevails.

In today’s time, couples often face intimacy issues in their relationships which leads to cause disagreement and misunderstanding. To solve this particular problem, they seek either couple counseling or individual therapy to overcome the intimacy issues 3in their relationship.

1. Importance Of Intimacy

Intimacy in new romantic relationships takes some time to build up for the long term, which requires constant effort, patience, and communication between partners. A lot of couples judge their bond with their significant other based on their intimacy level. Couples regard physical and emotional intimacy as the ultimate happiness and means for the long term of their relationships.

Trust, communication, efforts, and understanding are the foundation of every healthy relationship, and intimacy is the strong pillar that holds everything together. Couples often confuse romance with intimacy; romance is more about actions, gestures, validation, and showing affection, whereas intimacy is a powerful source of connection between two people.

Intimacy issues often cause couples to separate because the bond of trust and understanding breaks down. Intimacy in relationships is extremely powerful and strong to keep two people happy and healthy together.

Not only is intimacy important for a healthy relationship but also the good mental health of couples4. Besides strengthening the bond of relationships, intimacy also relieves the stress of people. Intimacy helps build confidence, and for people with low self-esteem and lack the ability to be vulnerable.

2. Fear Of Intimacy

Intimacy is the ability to be vulnerable and open to someone; it is an extremely close physical and emotional bond that one shares in a relationship. When it comes to romantic couples, it often refers to sexual connection as well. Intimacy issues in relationships often arise due to the fear of intimacy 5of a person.

To define fear of intimacy, it is an anxious feeling in someone’s head that they are getting too close or vulnerable with someone, and people suffering from fear of intimacy try every means to avoid intimacy and push people away from getting too close. However, they long for closeness, emotional support, and a loving relationship. This fear often becomes the reason for sabotaging relationships and the separation of partners.

3. Causes For Fear Of Intimacy 

Often, intimacy issues in relationships occur when people start to feel past traumas looming over their heads or some past experiences, especially childhood, that make them restless.

Avoiding intimacy and getting too close to someone in a relationship or in general is a way of protecting oneself from being hurt. This avoidance or prevention of being intimate is almost a defense mechanism. 6People find it extremely hard to trust others, be vulnerable with them, or share emotions with them, all types of intimacy issues.

There are other reasons as well that are the source of the fear of intimacy. They are as follows:

3.1.  Fear Of Neglect

It is an innate fear that people often feel in an intimate relationship, the fear of neglect or abandonment. They often feel like just one fine day their significant other will leave them, which occurs because of past experiences or the death of close people.

3.2. Fear Of Rejection

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

Intimacy issues commence when there is a deep-seated fear of rejection in one’s mind, and they never make the first move towards building an emotional closeness or physical intimacy. It is also because one does not want to get hurt or experience what others have been through in relationships.

3.3. Childhood Traumas

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Photo by Flor Saurina on Unsplash

Sexual abuse and any trauma during one’s childhood are major reasons for fear of intimacy in relationships, especially physical. It gets hard for a person to trust others, be vulnerable with them, and have an intimate sexual relationship.

3.4. Fear Of Losing Oneself

People think that if they have an intimate relationship with someone, they might lose their identity or value. They might be known through their partner’s identity, such as His wife/her husband, etc. To avoid this, they keep their distance from people getting intimate with them.

4. Reasons For Intimacy Issues In Relationships

To be loved and to be in love is every human utmost desire on this planet. Everyone seeks closeness, understanding, and intimacy with their friends, families, and significant others. Intimacy in a relationship binds people together for the long term. Both physical and emotional closeness or intimacy with people is the essential need of human beings.

Holding hands, hugging, and kissing is a cute form of intimacy in a relationship that makes the couple happy and the relationship strong & healthy, but intimacy is very much beyond that. It is vastly about understanding someone inside out, trusting someone wholeheartedly, and being vulnerable with someone without any hesitation.

When there are intimacy issues between two people, then it would certainly affect the relationship. There is a lot of reason for intimacy issues in relationships, and some of the most common and important ones are as follow:

4.1. Unstable Relationship

An unstable relationship is one of the common reasons for intimacy issues between couples. They might have good physical intimacy sometimes. Still, if there is no understanding, trust, and sharing of emotions between partners, then there is a certain chance of rising intimacy issues7 which often lead to sexual intimacy.

4.2. Constant Resentment

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Image by Afif Ramdhasuma from Pixabay

Another major reason for intimacy issues in a relationship is the perpetual existence of negative emotions such as anger and jealousy. Arguments or fights often get resolved, but if these feelings linger and become the highlight of a relationship, intimacy issues are bound to occur.

4.3. Lack Of Communication

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Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Intimacy is all about communication and how comfortable people are communicating with their partners. Open, honest, and good communication is important for a healthy, happy, and intimate relationship. Listening and talking go hand in hand in a healthy and happy relationship. If there is a lack of communication in a relationship, it paves the way for intimacy issues which is inevitably unhealthy for a relationship.

4.4. Mental Illness

Often it is observed that people with mental disorders like depression, anxiety, or stress isolate themselves, push their loved ones away, lack the ability to show affection, and affect their perspective of the world. This causes intimacy issues in relationships, and sometimes people with low self-esteem sabotage their relationships to avoid being judged or vulnerable.

4.5. Fear Of Intimacy

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

Intimacy issues occur due to the fear of intimacy, which happens because of several reasons such as childhood sexual abuse, avoidant anxiety disorder, fear of rejection, abandonment, losing oneself, controlling partners, physical abuse, and others.

5. Solving Intimacy Issues

A relationship works like magic if both partners are in sync and show equal effort to make their bond happy, healthy, and long-lasting. Just like every other issue of this world has certain solutions for it, so do intimacy issues in relationships. To resolve intimacy issues, couples need to put in more effort together, have an honest conversation, be extremely vulnerable without the fear of judgment, and understand the root cause of it.

Here is a list of ways to resolve intimacy issues in a relationship. They are as follows:

5.1. Communicate Effectively

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Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay

A relationship only lasts longer when there is good, honest, open, and effective communication between partners. If one partner starts hiding what they feel or doesn’t share any views or opinions, it might cause misunderstanding and miscommunication, which is a great cause for intimacy issues. Being open and talking about problems, showing concern about things, and articulating feelings are ways to a happy intimate relationship. Talking and Listening a very important aspects of all relationships and partners should be honest speakers and good listeners to maintain a healthy relationship.

5.2. Spend Quality Time Together

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Quality time with your partner is one of the most beautiful love languages. It helps people understand each other and develops intimacy between them. Spending quality time together doing activities like baking, playing any sport, going on a picnic, exploring places, or even doing the most simple thing together can blossom intimacy and emotional connection between partners.

5.3. Resolving Fights

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Image by SvetlanaLex from Pixabay

Disagreements or arguments in relationships are common, but one should not linger longer to those feelings of frustration, anger, or irritation. It can only sabotage the bond and cause intimacy issues. Couples should learn to manage and resolve conflicts to restore their intimacy and have a long-lasting happy relationship.

Intimacy issues certainly create a mess in relationships. Still, one should try and talk things out honestly with their partners about things bothering them or why there is a lack of intimacy. Only honest, vulnerable, and effective communication between couples could eradicate intimacy issues from every relationship across the world.

6. Conclusion

Intimacy issues in relationships can stem from a variety of factors, often working in combination rather than in isolation.

Inadequate communication, poor listening skills, or difficulty expressing emotions can hinder emotional and physical intimacy. Unresolved past traumas, such as abuse or neglect, can lead to emotional barriers that inhibit intimacy

Trust is fundamental for intimacy. Betrayals, dishonesty, or a history of broken trust can make it challenging to be vulnerable. Intimacy requires vulnerability, which can be frightening for some individuals who fear rejection or judgment. Different desires or expectations regarding emotional, sexual, or social intimacy can lead to dissatisfaction and conflict.

High-stress levels, work pressure, financial concerns, or other external stressors can impact emotional availability and connection.

It’s important to note that intimacy issues are often interconnected and can’t be simplified to a single cause. Working through these issues typically involves open and compassionate communication, therapy or counseling, and a commitment from both partners to understand and support each other’s emotional needs.

It’s important to note that intimacy issues can be complex and interwoven. Relationships require effort, patience, empathy, and open communication to address and overcome these challenges.


1. How long does it take to resolve intimacy issues?

A. The timeline varies depending on the nature and severity of the issues, as well as the commitment and effort put in by both partners. Some issues might be resolved relatively quickly, while others may take more time and professional guidance.

2. Can technology exacerbate intimacy issues?

A. Yes, excessive use of technology and social media can potentially contribute to intimacy issues by reducing face-to-face interactions and distracting partners from each other.

3. Is it normal for intimacy to change over time in a relationship?

A. Yes, intimacy often evolves throughout a relationship due to various life stages, responsibilities, and personal growth. It’s important for partners to adapt and communicate as these changes occur.

Read more

  1. Thaler-DeMers, Debra. “Intimacy issues: sexuality, fertility, and relationships.” Seminars in oncology nursing. Vol. 17. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2001. ↩︎
  2. Borg Jr, Mark B., Grant H. Brenner, and Daniel Berry. Relationship sanity: Creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Central Recovery Press, 2018. ↩︎
  3. Firestone, Robert W., and Lisa Firestone. “Methods for overcoming the fear of intimacy.” Handbook of closeness and intimacy. Psychology Press, 2004. 385-406. ↩︎
  4. Berge, Jerica M., Joän M. Patterson, and Martha Rueter. “Marital satisfaction and mental health of couples with children with chronic health conditions.” Families, Systems, & Health 24.3 (2006): 267. ↩︎
  5. Descutner, Carol J., and Mark H. Thelen. “Development and validation of a Fear-of-Intimacy Scale.” Psychological assessment: A journal of consulting and clinical psychology 3.2 (1991): 218. ↩︎
  6. Cramer, Phebe, and Phebe Cramer. The defense mechanism manual. Springer New York, 1991. ↩︎
  7. Muniruzzaman, M. D. “Transformation of intimacy and its impact in developing countries.” Life sciences, society and policy 13 (2017): 1-19. ↩︎

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