What Is the Difference Between Fear of Intimacy & Fear of Commitment?

Even though different, fearing intimacy or commitment often leaves people feeling isolated.
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Fear of intimacy and fear of commitment are like fraternal twins. While these two distinct fears can look similar, they have key differences in relationships. When you know what they look like, you learn the many ways they can pop up in you or others.

1 Intimately Afraid

Fear of intimacy is being afraid of having a fulfilling and close relationship with another person. This fear develops for all sorts of reasons, from neglect to having poor role models of intimacy to being afraid of losing your identity, states Dr. Frances Cohen Praver in her Psychology Today article, "Fear of Real Intimacy." As a result, people with a fear of intimacy desire close and loving relationships but ironically fear them because intimacy may be seen as painful.

2 Committing to Fear, Not Love

Fear of commitment involves being afraid to stick with one relationship or partner. This fear can show up in different ways. Some may fear the responsibility of an intimate relationship, while others may see excitement as anxiety that makes them feel uneasy, according to Dr. Barton Goldsmith in his Psychology Today article, "Understanding and Dealing with Commitment-Phobia." No matter what, this fear plays out in indecisiveness and being aloof.

S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.