Restorations Therapy Blog

Intimacy Disorders: Causes, Treatment, and Hope

by on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

intimacy disorders

If you were to survey a select group of random individuals, most would agree that intimacy is key to any long-term romantic relationship. Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex but can also refer to romantic love, being physically close to someone, or opening up to another person on an emotional level. Any of your relationships will have a level of intimacy involved, from your colleagues to family members to romantic partners. However, some individuals find themselves struggling to be intimate with other people. Either they cannot express intimacy or have trouble finding intimacy within their relationships – this is known as having an intimacy disorder. Troubles with intimacy are more common than you think. Understanding this mental health disorder and its treatment can give hope to those struggling.

What is an Intimacy Disorder?

An intimacy disorder can be defined as having problems in developing, maintaining, and conveying intimacy. This disorder can take multiple forms depending on the person. Some struggle with sex addiction, which involves engaging in risky and destructive behaviors that do not include intimacy or pleasure of any kind. Other individuals struggle with a fear of intimacy and have problems getting close to others. They may be unable to experience real intimacy due to various disordered thoughts.

Causes of Intimacy Disorders

No one cause results in an intimacy disorder. Factors vary from person to person, with many stemming from past experiences from childhood or early adult life. However, most people develop an intimacy disorder as a defense mechanism. This defense is used to protect themselves from getting too close to people due to the risk of being hurt.

Childhood Abuse

Many individuals that experienced physical or sexual abuse during childhood are more at risk of developing an intimacy disorder later in life. They may develop a fear of intimate emotional or sexual contact, making it difficult for them to become intimate with another person. These feelings can cause them to be unable to get aroused, engage in risky sexual behaviors, distance themselves emotionally while having sex, or have negative feelings about being touched.

Fear of Rejection or Abandonment

Those with intimacy disorders often develop them in fear of being either rejected or abandoned by the person they are intimate with. This fear can stem from the broken trust in past relationships or low self-esteem. Many individuals will avoid being intimate with their partners to prevent the chances of being rejected or abandoned by someone they care about or love.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

A small percentage of the population has what is known as avoidant personality disorder, or intimacy anxiety disorder. It typically begins in childhood and can cause a person to have low self-esteem, be awkward, be overly sensitive to criticism or rejection, avoid social situations, or live in fear of humiliation. Due to these insecurities, individuals with this disorder typically have intimacy problems in their professional, platonic, and romantic relationships.

Intimacy Disorder Treatment

Having a fear of intimacy can cause strain in your personal life as people realize there is no trust between you and them. Luckily, there is hope for individuals with intimacy disorders, thanks to facilities around the US creating specifically tailored programs for the disorder. These programs typically involve various treatment modalities to help individuals overcome their fear of intimacy and create healthy, long-lasting bonds with others.

Various therapies are used to treat intimacy disorders, including adventure therapy, psychodrama therapy, experiential therapy, and talk therapy. These treatment methods address specific aspects of the disorder, from low self-esteem, trust issues, overcoming worst-case scenarios, articulating needs, and breaking out of destructive thought patterns.

Co-occurring Disorders

Some individuals use drugs and alcohol to cope with their fear of intimacy. Often, these substances will be used to help them become more trusting or open to intimacy, but this can have negative consequences. As a person’s tolerance builds up, they will need more of the substance to achieve the desired effects. Over time, this can cause them to become dependent on drugs and alcohol to help them with intimacy, which can eventually result in addiction. Substance use can make the symptoms of an intimacy disorder worse. When this happens, an individual may feel fear around intimacy, use substances to feel better, their symptoms worsen, and they continue to use more drugs or alcohol to relieve worsening symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.

Treatment for co-occurring disorders is crucial to help these individuals heal. Luckily, facilities around the country offer dual diagnosis care. Treating the symptoms simultaneously gives clients the best chance at making a full recovery. Be sure to look into facilities and their treatment options when making a decision to help you heal from your struggles with intimacy and addiction.

Intimacy disorders are often misunderstood, resulting in a lack of understanding and sympathy for those struggling. Many are unaware of the treatment options available, leaving them in situations where they feel hopeless, scared, ashamed, and depressed. Education is the best way to help those struggling and fight the stigma. Restorations Therapy uses various treatment methods for clients with intimacy disorders to offer the best chance at recovery. These often include individual therapy sessions, group therapy, and 12 Step group participation. We strive to restore lives from intimacy disorders and their influence on all aspects of life. Over time, we want to see our clients develop a desire to change and grow into the person they have always wanted to be. We can help with this process through individualized treatment programs tailored to our clients’ exact needs. Call us today to learn more about our offerings at (720) 446-6585 or visit us anytime in Centennial, CO. Your healing begins at Restorations.

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