People who fear intimacy but secretly crave connection usually disiplay these 9 behaviors

by Lucas Graham | February 22, 2024, 12:12 am

Love is scary.

Anyone who has ever fallen for someone only to have their heart broken knows this all too well.

Yet for most of us, it’s also worth the risk.

The sense of belonging and union we feel from deep connection makes it all worthwhile.

But for others, that fear can become crippling.

In their heart, they still long for intimacy.

But their head doesn’t want them to open up to the vulnerability it demands to create meaningful relationships.

That can keep them stuck in a sort of limbo.

As this push and pull plays out between what they want and what they fear,  it creates the following common behaviors.

 So let’s take a look…

1) They come on strong in the beginning

In the age of modern dating, love bombing is a term many of us are familiar with by now.

It’s when someone showers you with attention and affection to win you over very early on.

It’s often discussed as a favorite manipulation tool of the narcissist, but the reality is that it’s more widespread than that.

People love bomb for all types of reasons, and it’s not uncommon in those who crave connection but also fear it.


They get a hit of all the intimacy they secretly desire, but in a risk-free way.

Because as we’ll see later, once things start to feel too intense, they’ll start to back off.

As clinical psychologist, Dianne Grande explains:

“The love bomber seeks a secure and stable relationship but is hesitant to be emotionally vulnerable. The attention keeps you interested but it probably doesn’t reflect readiness for any consistent and mutually loving commitment.”

It’s not that they’re intentionally being deceitful. It’s more that this show of emotions is all on the surface, rather than running deeper.

That’s because people who want love but are scared of it find it hard to open up to anything more than a shallow display of connection.

2) They generally keep you at arm’s length emotionally

They may talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.

Meaning, for all their charm and show of commitment, they never back it up.

Avoidance tactics are one of the main consistent behaviors of those who crave intimacy but still fear it.

You’ll see this appear in many ways.

One of which is a tendency to avoid emotional investment.

So even though you might have a good time with them, they probably shy away from deep, meaningful conversations and discussions of the future.

Instead, they prefer to engage in small talk or superficial chat.

This is designed to help them to maintain a safe distance from others, preventing feelings of emotional exposure.

If they do ever touch on deeper things, it has to be on their terms.

3) They may reveal a few intimate things but in a controlled way

What can be especially confusing for people dealing with someone who wants intimacy yet fears it, is their contradictory behavior.

We’ve just said that mostly they try to keep their distance emotionally.

But at the same time, they may seemingly open up to you on a few occasions.

This gives you a tantalizing glimpse into what is going on inside.

To you, it can feel like a positive sign of trust and intimacy building.

But there is often a catch:

It’s still done in a very controlled way.

People who want to feel connected but are scared of getting hurt are often control freaks.

They cannot face putting their feelings in the hands of others and losing that sense of power.

So even though they may share some seemingly personal information, it still has to be in the confines of their comfort level.

By controlling their interactions, they can manage their fear of intimacy.

They decide when, where, and how deep their connections go, providing a sense of security.

4) They run hot and cold

We see this behavior a lot from people who are just stringing you along.

In that case, their feelings don’t run deep enough to commit real effort, yet they prefer to keep you around as a sort of backup to call upon when they’re bored.

Yet in someone who simultaneously fears and craves intimacy it serves a different purpose.

Ultimately, their behaviors reflect a constant push-pull dynamic that they feel internally.

They long for connection yet fear the vulnerability it entails.

So this tension gives rise to a host of behaviors that can be confusing to others.

One day they draw you close, only to back off the next.

As soon as they create enough distance to feel emotionally safe again, they’ll be blowing up your phone again.

5) Their communication is inconsistent

This is a direct consequence of their hot and cold behavior playing out.

When things start to heat up in an uncomfortable way, they’ll back off and so you hear from them less frequently.

They may text non-stop for several days, but then you don’t hear from them for an entire week.

When the (emotional) threat dissipates for them, they’ll call and message you again.

Their contact can feel random and inconsistent.

Unbeknown to you on the receiving end, it usually coincides with when they are in need of an emotional boost.

This erratic pattern of communication leaves you feeling confused and not knowing what to expect.

Yet this works well for them as your uncertainty creates even more of an emotional buffer.

6) They’re only around for a good time, not a long time

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of falling for an emotionally unavailable person, then you’ve likely learned the hard way:

These types are here for a good time rather than a long time.

Once they’ve gotten all they can safely get, they move on.

It seems like they’ve gotten bored, but there’s more to it than that.

Seeking superficial relationships that don’t last gives them a hit of connection, without the depth they fear.

They may appear to be social butterflies, but these connections rarely go beyond the surface.

They engage in these superficial interactions to satiate their need for connection without triggering their fear of intimacy.

When the going gets tough, they’re nowhere to be seen.

7) They pull away when you start to get close

Unless someone can recognize and overcome their fear of intimacy, they’re doomed to repeat the same patterns over and over again.

And eventually, there will always come a point where the threat feels too strong and so they pull away for good.

It often comes when their own emotions start to overpower them and they feel like they’re getting in too deep.

Or it may come when someone calls them out on their lack of commitment and emotional distance.

Feeling like too much is being demanded of them, they do a disappearing act once and for all.

By this stage, they seem uninterested and indifferent around you as they close themselves off entirely.

8) They look for flaws and excuses within you

It’s essentially deflection.

Rather than look inside and admit the problem could lie with them, they grasp at other excuses.

People who are scared to commit will nitpick and try to find flaws in a prospective partner.

They can hone in on even the smallest and most insignificant detail and blow it out of proportion.

They use this to justify to themselves why you are not compatible or why things won’t work out, but it’s just a defense mechanism to push you away.

Of course, no one is perfect, so there is always something they can try to use.

Perfectionism holds other people at arm’s length for that very reason.

It uses impossible standards to set expectations.

And as we’re about to see, those unrealistic expectations can never be met.

9) They’re waiting for you to slip up

As strange as it may sound, in some way, they want you to make a mistake.

They’re waiting for it to use as ammunition.

That way it will prove to them why they were right not to trust you with their heart.

When you make yourself so guarded and resistant to love and intimacy, you want to feel justified in this.

So they may jump on any slight slip-up or mistake and catastrophize it.

Even if you don’t give them any reason not to trust you, they may still behave with paranoia and suspicion.

The real threat lies inside them

Even though they secretly want intimacy, they find it hard to allow themself to experience it.

They build up an image of an external threat which makes them feel too vulnerable to open up.

Yet the real enemy lies within, as explained in Psych Alive:

“The problem is that the positive way a lover sees us often conflicts with the negative ways we view ourselves. Sadly, we hold on to our negative self-attitudes and are resistant to being seen differently. Because it is difficult for us to allow the reality of being loved to affect our basic image of ourselves, we often build up a resistance to love.”

In order to move past their fear of intimacy and find the connection they actually crave, they must first challenge these negative beliefs.

Only then will they be able to stop subconsciously shutting out those who they care about.

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