The parents of children who become avoidant or dismissing of intimacy tend to reject the children’s neediness or perceived weaknesses.They may even use shame as a means of control (“little boys don’t cry!We generally think that men primarily suffer from this problem, but women also experience varying levels of fear and anxiety as relationships deepen.The Fear of Intimacy Scale can help identify specific traits that determine the likelihood a person fears intimacy and their accompanying level of fear.
But it is important to understand that avoidance of intimacy does not necessarily mean someone doesn’t care. It is in large part a biological reaction that was ingrained in the structures of the central nervous system through certain parenting practices in childhood.
Fearing intimacy and avoiding closeness in relationships is the norm for about 17% of adults in Western cultures.
As many readers understand, it can be crazy-making and even infuriating to feel dismissed and shut down when you try to get close to someone you love. You might be mystified by accusations that you don’t care and are not there for your loved ones…when you feel that you do care for them and love them greatly.
Referring back to my earlier description of attachment theory: all children have a natural need to remain close enough to their parents so that they can attain protection and comfort when frightened or distressed.
How the parent responds in these instances has a major impact on the child’s developing personality (personality being defined as the way one characteristically perceives threats, thinks, feels, and behaves).