Fear of both physical and emotional intimacy is a problem that affects many kinds of interpersonal relationships. Being uncomfortable with closeness on various levels puts a strain on significant others and loved ones. Anxiety and related distance characterise this social disorder. Fortunately, there are exercises you may perform if fear of intimacy is having an adverse affect on your life and important relationships.
Dr. Richard Nicastro suggests performing relaxation exercises at the onset of your physical symptoms of intimacy-related anxiety or distress. This requires monitoring and recording your usual reactions to intimate situations. Try the techniques outlined in the "Relaxation Exercises" link in the Resources section whenever you experience your fear of intimacy symptoms. This includes focusing on your breathing and clenching and relaxing your muscles in a systematic manner. Feel free to investigate other relaxation techniques that may be more specific to your symptoms.
Keep a Journal
Dr. Nicastro also recommends keeping a journal of societal conditions and rules that play a part in your fear of intimacy, such as gender role stereotypes. Treat this as an exercise where you remember to make note of such things whenever they come to mind. Set aside some time in your day or week to reflect on these notions.
Writing down and pondering these thoughts are therapy unto themselves. However, they provided added benefit in discussion. Discuss your findings with the loved ones or significant other you experience fear of intimacy with. You may also want to consider incorporating a therapist into this process. Relationship therapists, sex therapists and psychotherapists may provide important insight and encouragement with this process.
Sensate Focus Exercises
Sensate focus exercises help couples enhance intimacy in their romantic relationship. They are particularly helpful in relieving intercourse-related anxiety, which is a common fear of intimacy symptom. In the first couple of weeks you and your partner will take turns exploring each other's faces and bodies without making sexual contact. You will communicate what feels good and your partner will do the same.
In the next couple of weeks you will incorporate genital stimulation into the exploration. You may also stimulate yourself and allow yourself to be stimulated to the point of orgasm. For the fifth and sixths weeks of the exercises you will be able to add intercourse to the progression of sexual exploration and comfortable physical enjoyment.
As with every addition to the exercises, start the intercourse slowly and in as comfortable a position as possible. Feel free to regress at any point if you are uncomfortable or fear of intimacy symptoms occur. You should feel completely comfortable and unafraid of the current level of physical intimacy before progressing to further levels in your sensate focus exercise.
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