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101: Our Fear of Intimacy

Dec 19, 2017

Men not being so attached to their emotions is a default program hard-wired in their maturity process. To face their fear of intimacy, they wear masks to become confident in their relationship, or they get angry a lot or just become sexually immature altogether. But women have an even greater fear of intimacy because they feel like once a guy gives his love, she somehow owes him a debt. A way around this is to find a partner who is also a reflection of your progress and shortcomings, sharing your experiences with each other through this step by step practice. Find out how to receive love and make a deep and lasting connection.

101: Our Fear of Intimacy

The concept of this show is our fear of intimacy, which has been sparked by many different little things that have been going on for me recently in terms of my life and what I’m seeing. I’ve already taken this huge leap of going to the next level of intimacy with Morgan by getting married. It’s like, “What does marriage mean to you? What does marriage mean to me?” It all has different connotations and different things. For me, it really isn’t in terms of another commitment, in terms of my intimacy and my desire to be with this woman. Really, raising my connotation, raising my understanding, raising my feelings about what it means to be in an intimate relationship.

Marriage is, for some people, not a big deal. They assume they’ll have two or three in their lifetime. For other people, it is the gold standard of relationship. People dream deeply of being married and having kids and having a family, and then once they get in there they find out, “This really isn’t all it is caught up to be. Maybe I wasn’t even ready for a relationship.” We have a very skewed thing in our society where we look externally for markers of what it means to be intimate. At the same time, we’re really ignoring a lot of stuff that’s going on inside of us. That’s the focus of this show, this concept of our fear of intimacy.

TL 101 | Fear of Intimacy

Fear of Intimacy: We have a very skewed thing in our society where we look externally for markers of what it means to be intimate.

The main reason I did this show was I met a woman or had a session with a woman who is super cool and spooked the fuck out of me basically is the best way of saying it. Morgan found her for me and did a session. What she does is basically read your energy and tell you things that she sees. I’m a little skeptic about this, even after all these years of being in all these different woo-woo situations. I can just tell you in the first seven minutes, this woman had read me like a book. Either she has done extensive research on the internet in terms of listening to every single one of my podcast or she’s legit and she read my energy, which she did.

One thing she said was, “You have a heart full of holes.” I was like, “I do.” I’ve had many traumatic relationships in terms of love and relationship. I put myself into that situation. I put myself into a situation where I was not in control of my life or my relationships. I truly did have a heart full of holes, and I still do on some level, healing almost every single day in this relationship with Morgan and my therapy and our journeys, etc. Another thing this woman said is that, “You don’t trust anyone, not even Morgan too. You don’t trust anyone.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s true.” Like I said, she just read me like a book. I didn’t say a thing. She’s looking at me on Skype, read my energy, and she’s seeing all this shit about me.

The point is that I don’t trust people. I really do have this way about me that basically is, “Prove it motherfucker if you want to get close.” I have obstacle courses, I described it. I have this playground in front of me that you need to work to get close to me. Where did this fear of intimacy come from? I think that’s what it is inside of me. What are the parts of me that say, “You need to prove it so I know that it’s going to be valid?” That’s the important piece. I did some research. I looked up some things and I found some really interesting facts out. There are different types of fear of intimacy. That’s the first thing. The different types are physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual. I thought that was an interesting way of looking at things. You might not have a physical fear of intimacy, in other words you might be okay with touching and sexing and engaging in physicality but you might have some issues in terms of emotional. I know a lot of men like this who can have sex with as many women as they want and they don’t open up their emotional doors, not even a crack. I thought that was an interesting way of looking at it.

There are people who are energetically fearful of intimacy. In other words, they can have their emotions, they can be engaged physically, and there’s an energetic thing where a person gets blown out by a person’s energy or feels really sensitive. Then there’s a spiritual fear of intimacy. Basically your relationship to another person or relationship to God, there’s a big piece of that. This comes down really in my estimation around deserving love and the concept of receiving, which we’ve talked about more than a couple of times on the show, one’s ability to receive. This is something that a lot of people face on some level. A lot of us are really good at producing and showing love and putting our intention externally, offering advice and offering ourselves, even taking a bullet for other people. I think a lot of people would sacrifice, especially to children and family, but I think on some level a lot of us have a lot of challenges receiving love, a lot of challenges taking from people who want to love us. We block it. We block it because of A, B and C.

The two that are most popular are, one is we don’t think we deserve it like there’s something we’re not doing. I think that’s one piece. The second one is we’re afraid that if we receive love, then we’ll owe that person who’s giving us love some form of debt, which is just a shocking experience. We want to block it because we are afraid of being in that person’s debt. I think those are two of the main reasons that people will not receive love. The ability to receive love is a lifelong practice. It’s not like you just decided, “I’m going to receive love,” and then all of a sudden your door opens. No. It is a step by step, moment by moment minute opening of your heart by minute opening of your heart, step by step life. If you’re not willing to make it into a practice then you’re not going to succeed. You can live your entire life without receiving love. Personally if I would hear that from someone, I would just say, “You’re missing out on a lot.”

The ability to receive love is a lifelong practice. Click To Tweet

I think a lot of that has to do with fear, which brings me to the next concept; the concept of attachment theory, which I am not an expert on in any shape or form in terms of how much I truly know about this, but hanging out with Morgan who’s read some books and really looks at it with the kids and explain since I learn by osmosis. I did a little research on attachment theory and I found out that according to this one study, studies can be different by some degree, but this resonates with my personal experience, 55% of people or adults leave childhood with what’s called secure attachment. They feel secure in themselves. That means that 45% of people don’t. They leave with an avoidant attachment theory where they’re avoiding connection and attachment and intimacy and truth and all these things. I’m like, “That’s a pretty big number in terms of everything.” That’s an interesting piece of it.

I was one of those secure attachment kids too, which is interesting. I was a secure attachment kid. I left with really a very positive, nurturing, upper middle class upbringing with two parents with issues. Of course we have parents with issues, the kids have issues, but I really left very secure in terms of my ability to feel attachment. At the same time then I threw myself into many life experiences where I went from that secure attachment to a heart full of holes. That’s an interesting dichotomy between the two. The point is that even if you leave a secure attachment, you can fuck yourself up by the choices we make, by our sexual partners, our romantic partners, our relationship partners, and the life experiences that we co-create, which can be a risky thing in terms of recapturing me too. I will be very careful about this but on some level, we can look at all the experiences we’ve had on some level we’ve co-created them.

A few things I found out more that were interesting to me, hopefully they’re interesting to you, is women tend to have more fear of intimacy than men according to a study by Reis and Grenyer. Women tend to have more fear with connection and receiving. This also jives with my personal experience, which is also interesting in terms of men are not so much attached to their emotions. Women are more attached to their emotions in my experience as a general rule. How does that play into fear of intimacy? How can a man who’s not attached to his emotion not be afraid of his fear of intimacy? This is an interesting query in my mind. I don’t really have quite an answer for it but that was something I thought about. I think in terms of why women have larger fear of intimacy issues is mostly because of security. We’re back to this topic of creating a safe space for women to come out. Men feel much safer in the world in general, in some places extremely more, to walk down the street and live their lives than women. It makes sense on some level that women who do not feel secure are unable to have a secure attachment and intimacy. That’s one thing to look at.

TL 101 | Fear of Intimacy

Fear of Intimacy: Why women have larger fear of intimacy issues is mostly because of security.

I found another article that interests me. Here are some signs that we can look at, some signs that you or your partner is suffering from a fear of intimacy. I think I found this from Reader’s Digest. I found this article regardless, it was pretty cool. Here are some signs that you have fear of intimacy. One is you’re angry a lot, that you’re having a lot of anger issues. You’re scared not to be with people. There’s an isolation aspect to yourself. There’s a way where you’re unwilling to go out and venture in the world. You’re sexually immature, and what they meant by that is you can have sex but you cannot connect during sex. There’s a disparaged nature between you and the other person that affects things.

That’s a big piece of the puzzle. You’re there in body but not in spirit, which I thought was really great. I think that is a subtle way to see if someone is connected or have fear of intimacy. Another word to describe this is presence. Are you present to the relationship and the communication and the conversation that you’re having? Are you available to be in connection with that other person? That’s a big piece of the puzzle. You lack confidence. You lack the ability to really come out and be full and be free. You don’t know if things are going to work out or not work out. That’s another way of looking at it. Another one is you wear masks. The way that we put our different masks to cover and to create facades and create distance is another sure-fire sign of a fear of intimacy.

These are just things to look at and look at yourself, “How do I know?” When this woman who I saw over Skype basically said, “You have a heart full of holes and you don’t trust Morgan,” I was like, “No. I trust Morgan. I trust Morgan more than any woman especially but any person that I have in my entire life. She’s consistently showing up and been real and been here.” Thinking about it, there just is an inherent way. It’s not a bad thing, I don’t make myself wrong for it and I know my trust of her is increasing over the time we’ve known each other. It’s been less than three years that we’ve even known each other. Morgan is the result or the mirror. She’s the one showing. It’s really my own internal thing where I don’t trust myself. I think this is a big piece of the puzzle. The more I tend to trust myself to be the man I want to be, then that’s what’s going to increase the trust. On some level, for a long time I just didn’t know if I was trustworthy. I didn’t know if my actions were always going to be in a way that’s not going to harm people or harm Morgan.

When you love someone, the thought of harming someone is so deeply terrifying. There’s been a period with, especially with my interest in other women and interest in sexuality and my lone wolf nature and my, “I’m going to have it the way I want it, fuck you, no matter what,” way that’s been inside of me that I haven’t fully trusted myself to take care of another person the way I wanted to take care. I know it really comes down to this internal game. When I’m talking to people about fear of intimacy, it’s a step by step gradation, it’s a step by step movement from where you are to where you want to get to. Your ability to confront and work at this as a practice is the thing.

Here’s the last piece, you can’t investigate intimacy by yourself. You can have a relationship with God or spirit. You can have a relationship with pets, which I think is good. If you really want to dive in to your own fear of intimacy, your own issues that you’ve been facing, it’s imperative that you find a practice partner. It’s imperative that you find someone who can mirror your progress and your shortcomings. The beauty of Morgan is that she reflects back to me when I’m off the mark or I’m askew, which happens. I’m a human being. I’m grateful that she does that because without her as my practice partner, without her reflecting back, there are so many things I wouldn’t know.

I hate to tell all those avoidance, all those isolators, all those emotional anorexics that the first step is if you want to engage in understanding and researching your fear of intimacy, the first thing is you have to find someone to play with. This does not have to be a romantic partner. This doesn’t have to be a lover. It could just be a friend. It could be someone from work. It could be someone from your church group. It could be someone from your men’s group. It could be someone that you meet at a meet-up. If you want to take that step to feeling more love and intimacy in your life, the first step is to make a commitment to really believe that you’re worth it, and then go forth and engage in the world because that’s where the power is going to come from. It’s not going to come from you sitting alone in a dark room watching Netflix, eating ice cream, and staying stuck in your own world. That is this week’s rant on the topic of our fear of intimacy.

TL 101 | Fear of Intimacy

Fear of Intimacy: If you want to take that step to feeling more love and intimacy in your life, make a commitment to really believe that you’re worth it.

Live Coaching

Hello. How are you?


Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

What’s on your mind? How can we make this coaching the most powerful? What do you want to talk about?

Talk about jealousy and transparency in a relationship, and how to address those things with someone that doesn’t seem to be comfortable with that.

Transparency about what?

I feel like a lot of my jealousy is coming up out of the lack of transparency or selective transparency, which then doesn’t feel like transparency.

You have hypothetical jealousy?

Yeah. I think I go places in my head when I don’t know exactly what’s going on sometimes. It’s hard for me to navigate because generally I feel a lot of people don’t want transparency and I feel that’s the case here. I would prefer it but when there are some things that end up I find out about and there’s no transparency, I feel I’m stuck with making up the rest of the facts. I would rather just have things open and just be able to talk about things. I’m thinking about bringing it up but it feels it’s a weird place to navigate.

When there’s no transparency, I feel I’m stuck with making up the rest of the facts. Click To Tweet

How long have you been with the guy?

Three to four months.

It’s still relatively a new relationship.

That’s the other issue. We’re still very much getting to know each other.

Do you like him?


He is a keeper at least in the short-term, not the long-term?

For short-term.

Is he not the long-term? 

I don’t know. I don’t like to attach myself to that.

There are so many ways we can talk about this. The first is you need to figure out what your bottom lines are. You need to figure out what are the minimum requirements in terms of transparency for you to stay in the relationship. That’s an internal conversation with a therapist or a coach or a friend or with yourself. You need to figure out that piece before you go to him. The worst thing you can do is say, “I’m not happy around transparency.” He’s like, “What do you want?” You’re like, “I don’t know.” Then all of a sudden you are in a squabble based on your lack of clarity, which is not a nice thing to do especially to a guy in a new relationship. Let’s practice. Just in a short conversation, what do you think your bottom lines look like?

I think I would like to just not hide things, not hide other relationships. Just be open about it.

You suspect he’s emotionally and/or physically engaged with other women?

Yeah. I know that. That is out on the open to an extent but there are no details. Even though I’ll see details here and there on social media, we don’t talk about it. When I brought it up in terms of safe sex because that’s another issue, it’s not again directly addressed. Even though I’ve said that, “This isn’t going to work. I don’t know what your other partners are doing. This is what I need to feel safe,” but then there’s no follow-up.

You asked the question, “Are you using protection?” Do you know what your requirements around safe sex are?

Yeah. I’ve made it super clear. According to where we are right now, there’s an issue because safe sex is not a high priority for now. When I don’t know any details especially, that’s a huge red flag for me. I’ve said that. I’ve talked about the fact that’s risky behavior and I’m trying to really understand where he’s coming from.

I would first focus on where you’re coming from. It sounds like you’re having a boundary and that boundary is being bypassed in terms of safe sex. I don’t know how you’re having good sex if this is an issue in your head.

Surprisingly, it is.

There’s some part of you that doesn’t believe you want safe sex or there’s some part of you that’s pushing down?

When we’re having sex, it’s safe sex. I’m not having unsafe sex with him.

You still have a fear? 

Yeah. I definitely feel more comfortable knowing more information and getting really clear on that, having an agreement.

This feels really foggy and muddy to me.

That’s how it feels for me too.

Most men do not like to be tied down or told what to do. Click To Tweet

We’re on the same page. Just so you know, this is a really challenging thing in today’s world. Most men do not like to be tied down or told what to do. He’s probably perceiving your request to have safe sex with other women or whatever you’re requiring is a way to try to contain him. At the same time, he is not dedicated to your container, to your security, to your vigilance center, so you feel safe enough to totally let loose. You’re saying you’re having good sex or great sex. There’s some disconnection happening around this. Either you’re saying you want him to have safe sex with other women or you don’t really care or there’s some part of you that’s shutting down, you’re non-confronting, you’re avoiding in order to have good sex with him.

I think that the latter is probably the case because it definitely is important.

I totally believe you. What I’m hearing is that you are now building up a credit card debt of pain. 

Which is why it feels like I need to address it.

Back to the bottom line, you need to figure out if you’re truly going to say, “I’m not going to have sex with you until we have this conversation,” and stick to it, which could and I’m just safe porting you.

Of course, I get that too.

You understand the danger or the possible ramifications of that. Don’t do it blindly and say, “Come back to me. You said this and I want you to get the full ramifications of it.” This is just one element that I’m hearing in terms of you not holding your bottom lines, which is common. People have their boundaries bypassed and then they go into depression and self-hate. I want you just to avoid that. That’s one big piece. Connected to that then is, what is your desire around non-monogamy?

I’m curious about it. I don’t really have any set expectations or desires right now about monogamy or non-monogamy. I feel it’s an exploration for me a little bit to work on different issues I haven’t before as long as it’s actual growth. For me, growth feels transparency and having those conversations and sharing things like that. That’s the part of the non-monogamy that interests me. I feel if that’s missing then what I’m left with is this feeling of confusion and all that kind of stuff, which doesn’t feel good to me. I’m open to non-monogamy as long as it’s done in a conscious growth way where we’re doing something together.

Does he know that?

No, he doesn’t. I haven’t had that conversation. When I brought it up, whether it’s talking about safe sex or when I brought up other people, I’ve done it in a very neutral non-judgmental way to set the stage. He seems really not comfortable talking about a lot of this stuff, which maybe is new. I don’t really know. He’s definitely not super evolved in that area so I haven’t wanted to overdo it. I’ve just tried to set the stage like, “I’m not judging. It’s safe. We can have these kinds of conversations.” When I have brought it up like, “I don’t know about what you’re doing with your other partners or if you’re telling me you’re having unprotected sex, that doesn’t feel safe to me.” I definitely brought up other people in not a judging way or any kind of controlling way or trying to control his autonomy or any of that.

TL 101 | Fear of Intimacy

Fear of Intimacy: There’s a speaker who makes the communication, there’s the person who receives it, and there’s the receiver’s filter.

Here’s my guess. I suspect he doesn’t take it in a value-neutral way. I’m betting, nothing to do with you. When you speak, I believe you. I believe you’re speaking in value-neutral way, but I wonder if he’s perceiving it in a nagging or negative way or controlling way. Remember, there’s a speaker who makes the communication, there’s the person who receives it, and there’s the receiver’s filter. They filter with their own bullshit and their own negatives. The communicator, it’s responsible on them to say, “I wanted to just make sure that you get my neutrality. I want you just to get that I’m in full support of you doing what you want, and erasing any of those filters that have them receiving that is nagging or negative.” The second thing really is you can enroll him into this great adventure. Maybe instead of being value neutral, you need to move more into the positive, fun connective way. For someone who has, like you said, not evolved or hasn’t read or doesn’t experience this, the concept of talking to one woman about another woman is terrifying.

I get it totally. I had one previous relationship where one was ending and I was dating. I was still involved with the last person. The first time I had to tell someone I was dating when he asked, it was terrifying. I totally get it.

If you can, put yourself in his shoes, look at his motivations and his understanding, his total belief that women are insane bitches when it comes to other women because you ladies can be. You’ve earned that reputation, let’s own it. Ensure him to say it like, “I just want to play and check this out. I want to do this with you. I want to explore jealousy and ownership issues in a connective way with you. I want to just imagine the greatest video game ever and call it Non-Monogamy.” Enroll the guy into your game and just acknowledge his fear, acknowledge your fear, and just enroll him. It really is an enrollment issue. 

I get that. I think that the examples you just gave give me a little more fire because I just haven’t known how to express that in a way that seems fun and playful. That’s how I feel about it too. It’s totally a game and it should be something fun figuring it out together. I like that. The other thing that I have a little bit of an issue with that I’m trying to work around is it takes two to tango. If he’s having unprotected sex with a woman who’s also having unprotected sex with him, it’s really been hard for me to wrap my head around why someone would do that and not be a little bit judgmental. I get it that here and there people make mistakes or they do things out of character once or something happens. To make it a constant thing when you don’t know what else is going on with other partner seems to me so dangerous. I find my mind continuing to go back. When I’m thinking about having these conversations with him, “Do I need to bring that up? Do I let that go? How do I let that go?” It does feel a really either unconscious or risky place to me.

Everyone has different viewpoints around unsafe sex. There are some people who are so phobic. They put on plastic wrap to have sex with another person. Other people just believe that it’s hyped up and not true and not real. There’s a lot of misinformation around STDs out there. There’s a lot of misinformation. I remember this definitive moment when I went to the San Francisco Clinic to get an HIV test. This must have been 2008, 2009. They wouldn’t test me because they said, “You use protection. You don’t engage in homosexual activity. You’re not an IV user. The city won’t pay for it because you’re so low risk.” I was like, “What? Just so you know, I could breathe and get HIV.” That’s what I learned from the Reagan eras. The truth is that it’s specific and there are some STDs that are much more prevalent. I’m not an expert on this, but the point is that he just might have a different set of viewpoints around this than you. 

He doesn’t have a lot of information. We were having that conversation about herpes and genital warts because those are the two things you can’t cure, that you’re stuck with if you get it. He has very little knowledge about it and I get that that’s a blind spot for a lot of guys and maybe it is for some women too but I find it less so. I have tried to see it from a point of view that some people don’t know or maybe they don’t care. I don’t know what they’re doing exactly but it does make me concerned.

That’s your bottom line, “If you want to engage in sexual activity with me, let’s get educated together. Let’s do this together.” Like I said, there’s a non-confronting you’re having around this. Your boundary is being bypassed and you’re not letting it go. You’re not listening to it. That bottom line is a go, no-go for you. You have to confront that boundary in order for you to feel safe in this relationship.

Yeah and be all in.

One last piece. One little tip. Are you interested in engaging in sexual activity with other people with him? 

Not right now. It’s not on my radar right now. I don’t know if it’s a boundary yet. It’s just something that doesn’t feel like a desire.

That’s one of the greatest way to enroll a guy, “We can have this experience.” Most guys want to have that experience.

That’s true.

Again, not making the offer or even talking about it until it becomes a desire, just know that would be a very big enticement for a man. 

I had thought about that actually. It’s interesting to bring that up. I don’t want to do the enticement until I feel we’re on the same page.

100% in support of that. 

It seems like it’s not even worth having that discussion unless I know that he’s willing to be open and meet some of my needs or listen to what my concerns and desires are.

I’m 100% a fan of that. You’ve got lots to think about. Thank you so much for being my last minute guest. 

Thank you so much for the insight and clarity.

Good luck. 

Thanks, Bob.

It was going to be the fastest twenty minutes of my week but it turned out to be the fastest 41 minutes of my week. I’m really grateful. Thank you again for my groupies. You can always see more shows at Again, in 2018 we’re going to two shows a week, one interview called Six Vulnerable Conversations. We might rebrand that a little bit and then our standard show on Thursdays. I’m very excited to increase the power of Tuff Love to go into the world. Find out what your dreams are. Look at where your fear of intimacy is blocking it. Just do your best to have the life exactly the way you want it. Thank you so much. I’ll be back next week. Until then, take care.

Resources mentioned:

Reis and Grenyer – study

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