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Overcoming Fears of Intimacy

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006

Fear of intimacy comes from the false belief of not being good enough, resulting in fears of rejection and engulfment, which causes the fear of intimacy.

Fear of intimacySam, age 42, had never been married. It's not that Sam had never fallen in love. But every time a relationship had started to move toward commitment, Sam ran.

When Sam's loneliness became overwhelming to him, he called me for help.

"I want to be in a relationship, yet every time I get close to someone, I run away. I'm not even sure what I'm so afraid of, but I must be terrified of something!"

"Sam, what happens inside you when you like someone?" The following answer and resulting dialogue came out over time, but I've condensed it here.

"I think that if this person really knew me, she wouldn't like me. I do all kinds of nice things for her so she will like me. Then, after a while, I start to feel trapped and I pull back. She gets upset about my pulling back and I then feel even more trapped. Once she gets mad at me, I stop feeling in love with her. That's when I decide she is not the right one for me. This has happened over and over."

"So the first problem is that you believe that she won't like you when she gets to know you. Out of your fear of rejection, you try to control how she feels about you by doing nice things for her. But then you feel trapped and your fear of engulfment - of being controlled by her and losing yourself in the relationship - kicks in. Then you run. It sounds like your underlying fears of rejection and engulfment are controlling your life and not letting you share love."

"That's exactly right! So what do I do about this?"


Core Shame

Sam was operating from core shame - the false belief that there is something basically wrong with him. As long as he believed that he was inherently flawed and unlovable, he would fear rejection. Out of his fear of rejection, he would give himself up until he felt trapped, and then he would run.

The part of Sam that believed that he wasn't good enough is his wounded self. The basis of the wounded self in all of us is our core shame false belief - the belief that we are inherently flawed. Our wounded self does not know that we are a perfect child of God, an individual expression of the Divine. Because the wounded self operates out of false beliefs, rather than from the truth of who we really are, it wants to control how people feel about us. Sam needed to develop a loving adult part of himself - a part of himself connected to a spiritual source of love and truth - in order to heal his core shame.


Practicing Inner Bonding Heals Shame

The six-step Inner Bonding process is a profound process for developing the loving adult and for healing the fears and limiting beliefs of the wounded self. As Sam started to practice Inner Bonding, he gradually developed an adult self who loved and valued his core self, his true essence. As he developed this inner sense of personal power, he lost his fear of rejection. He saw that if a woman rejected him, it was because of her fears rather than because of his inadequacy or unlovability. Because he stopped taking rejection personally, he stopped fearing it.

Once he stopped fearing rejection, he stopped giving himself up in his attempt to control how a woman felt about him. Once he stopped giving himself up, he stopped feel trapped and engulfed in a relationship.

Over time, by consistently practicing the Six Steps of Inner Bonding, Sam developed a powerful inner loving adult self and healed his fears of rejection and engulfment. Sam is now happily married with a child on the way.


It Was so Worth the Time it Took...

This did not happen quickly. It took Sam time to heal his false beliefs about his own adequacy and lovability. It took time to develop a personal relationship with a spiritual source of love and truth. It took time to be in truth with a woman rather than being "nice" to try to control how she felt about him. It took time for him to feel safe in being himself. It took a couple of years of devoted Inner Bonding work.

But if you were to ask Sam whether all the time it took was worth it, he would look at you with shining eyes and a huge grin and you would feel the joy within him. You would have no doubt that it was worth whatever time it took.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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