How to Deal with a Woman's Fear of Intimacy

Almost everyone brings some emotional baggage or other to a relationship. A romantic relationship between two adults is rarely without a trail of shadows. And one of the most common though least talked-about issues is a fear of intimacy. If you believe despite having an otherwise satisfying relationship, your girlfriend or wife is reluctant to come close to you, here is how you can deal with her fear of intimacy.

Every woman is different

Before you decide that your partner is suffering from a fear of intimacy, make sure that you are not jumping to conclusions. Every individual has his/her own pace when proceeding in emotional relationships. If you have been with women in the past who have had no problem in sleeping with you on the third date, you may find your present partner’s reluctance to get intimate even after a couple of months ‘not normal’. However it may be that she is one of those people who simply take a longer while to open up, especially where physical intimacy is concerned. If you share an otherwise mutually satisfying relationship and enjoy being with each other, give your partner some more time. She may need to feel certain of your love or require a while to feel comfortable with you physically before she can engage in a sexual relationship.

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She may be of traditional values

If your girlfriend has no problems dating you but refuses to get intimate, it could also be because she adheres to traditional values about love, sex and marriage. In many cultures, women are allowed a sexual relationship only after marriage. Even if she does not belong to a traditional culture, perhaps she may hold such views as part of her personal value system. Once you spend more time in getting to know her, rather than trying to get her into your bed, you may understand why she is not comfortable with intimacy.

Perhaps she has self-perception issues

Sometimes a woman may believe that she is not attractive enough for a man to love her and thus hesitate to open up to him sexually. Artificial representations of what constitutes as a desirable woman – like being reed-thin, having gorgeous blonde, blow-dried hair and flawless air-brushed skin – in popular media do little to help matters.  If you believe this is the case with your partner too, take time to appreciate her physical appearance; pay her small but sincere compliments so that she feels good about herself. Over time, she may feel assured enough about her looks in order to enter into a normal sexual relationship with you.

Display non-sexual acts of affection

Women look forward to gestures which display affection and romance but are non-sexual in nature. Acts like kissing, hugging and walking-hand-in-hand not only tell women that their partners love them but also that their guys are willing to show affection even outside the bedroom. If you find your partner fearing intimacy, take it out of the sexual context; for instance hold hands when taking a walk in the park or share an ice-cream from the same bowl. Once your partner begins to feel comfortable in a shared personal space and sees that your affectionate gestures are not intended as sexual advances, she may become more comfortable with your physically.

See if she has medical issues

Women have been so frequently accused in the past of being frigid whenever they were disinclined to sex that the term frigidity gave way to a lot of abuse. Now experts define frigidity as a particular medical condition defined as hypoactive sexual desire disorder or a woman's lack of interest or inability to feel pleasure during sexual intercourse. Signs of this condition include feelings of shame, fear about sexual matters, and painful spasm during coitus, complete emotional detachment during intercourse. If your partner displays a fear of intimacy, she could be suffering from this condition, the cause of which could be psychological or physical/hormonal. A physician, gynecologist or sex therapist is best placed to diagnose the condition and advise treatment accordingly. However it is important to keep in mind that the absence of a dramatic orgasmic climax in intercourse does not of itself denote frigidity. Most woman experience a lack of desire for intercourse when they are tired, worried, depressed or upset at their male partners; such an occasional lack of interest is normal and does not constitute habitual frigidity.

Sometimes a woman may simply be worried about matters like sexual hygiene, unwanted pregnancy and sexual health which may be preventing her from becoming intimate with you while you mistakenly construe theses as fears of intimacy. Assure your partner that you will take care of these issues and then see if she is able to shed her inhibitions.

A traumatic past

One of the main reasons why women suffer from a fear of intimacy is a history of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in childhood especially has a strong chance of expressing itself as unwillingness to come close to a loved one. The memory of the physical trauma that she went through as a child, a teen or a young woman is often enough to make any thoughts of intimacy scary or downright abhorrent to the abused person, even as an adult. Under such circumstances, you need to check your sexual advances and wait for your partner to heal herself before she can be comfortable with you in an intimate setting. Let her know that you find her attractive but will not pressurize her into sex. Offer support when she feels scared, confused or depressed. If necessary, encourage her to see a therapist who would do a better job in helping her to overcome the lingering effects of the traumatic experience.