Fear of Intimacy: I’ve Never Had A Real Relationship

Here is a confession: I am 22 years old and I have never been in a “real” relationship.
I suppose I should outline what I mean by “real”. It’s hard to define, but for starters it would be a relationship where when you go out and someone asks, “Who’s this?” you respond, not with an awkward pause, but with, “This is my boyfriend/girlfriend”. I’ve never had that.

I believe this to be for several possible/probable reasons including the following:

1) I have crippling trust issues mingled in with some hard core daddy issues. (Yeah, I’m that girl.)

2) I have an over inflated sense of self worth, or as my best friend likes to tell me, I’m too picky, which I don’t necessarily consider a bad thing.

3) The majority of adult figures in my life, like 97% of them, have all gotten a divorce, which leads me to fear of commitment which also ties into my fear of failure.
All of these mean one thing to me: I have an enormous fear of intimacy. Or you could call it a fear of being hurt, vulnerable, open; it all boils down to the same thing, I don’t let people get close. Not emotionally, not even physically. I’m not a cuddler, I’m not that girl that hugs everyone. Just don’t touch me. Don’t get me wrong, sex, “hooking up” is good, great even. But for me to enjoy sex it has to be completely free of any emotional attachment. I can’t handle physical closeness with someone I have somewhat romantic feelings for. It’s too much.

Its not that I am above feeling attracted to someone, but the second it gets past that point of initial attraction, I back peddle and sabotage. For example, when I started to really like this guy, what did I do? I went as hooked up with a random guy at a party that we were both at completely ruining the chance of it moving any further.
When did this all start? I go back in time and have to pin point it to around middle school. I met a boy, who for some reason reminded me of Ricky Martin, who I was obsessed with at the time, and he was older and cute and I was in love. In my thirteen year old heart and mind I genuinely thought I was in love.

So then, to fuel years and years of teenage angst, my older cousin thought it would be funny to humiliate me by telling him, in my presence, that I had a crush on him. Never one to be a coward or take the easy way out, instead of denying it, I confirmed it. I stood up, unashamed and said, “Yeah, I do like you”. He responded in the vein of the typical 14 year old boy, and he laughed, right in my face. He made fun of me.

Outwardly, I shrugged it off. I laughed and joked back. Inwardly, I was crushed. I learned that letting people in, exposing yourself rings pain and cruel mockery.

All of this brings me back to my original point, my lack of “real” relationship experience. While I may not have been in a “real” relationship before, I have been in a “fake” one, and it taught me a lot about myself. How was it fake? It had all the responsibility and restrictions of a relationship without actually being one, without the title. He had a kid and soon the three of us were going on outings together, I was making breakfast. We were two (sort of) adults playing house. We were always together, so much so that friends started lumping us together as a single item.

And he was fine with it, he liked it. He was open and physically affectionate and if I would have given the slightest inclination, we would have gone from “fake” to “real” in a heartbeat.

But I couldn’t do it. I began to feel smothered, like I couldn’t breathe when he was around. He had crossed that line and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to mesh or be an item. I just didn’t want to be touched, in any way. I had grown too used to it being just me. I liked having things separate and compartmentalized. It was safe. It was tidy. Having another person suddenly in that space was disturbing, chaotic. I had to get away. I withdrew. I sabotaged.
Am I sad and depressed with my constant state of singleness? No, I don’t think so. I don’t know how to be anything else. Do I admire those willing to offer up their jugular in the name of love? Always. The thirteen year old girl in me still remembers how much courage that takes.

Sorry! This poll is now closed.


Share This Post:
    • langer

      Oh my god this is me! Every word of it! Well, I mean, at least if you substitute “hilariously emasculating cocktail dog” for “kid” it is. “Am I sad and depressed with my constant state of singleness? No, I don’t think so. I don’t know how to be anything else. Do I admire those willing to offer up their jugular in the name of love? Always.” Poetry!

    • Bambie

      I can relate so much that it’s not even funny. Thank you for writing this and giving many people someone to identify with!

    • Aj

      Wow, you wrote my life story.

    • Stephanie Zhao

      Honestly, I don’t see what’s wrong with being single.

    • matbo

      I was like this until I fell so deeply in love that I couldn’t resist. And yes it’s scary, but so many aspects in life are.

    • allie

      dear lord you wrote a story about me. i grew up fat and unloved by family and kids. boys would torment me by asking me out then publicly embarrassing me by saying who would want to date a ugly fat girl, go home whale! that hurt and i never let people in after that, especially when it continued to happen. i was raised by my dad who i loved as both mother and father, then he remarried to a succubus and well i got kicked out to my emotionally stunted mothers. i can’t trust people period, even girls. i’ve lost the weight and i hope one day this will change, that i will meet the right guy, but god only knows.

    • SpringChicken

      Bah, you’re 22. I don’t mean that in a condescending way but just to say that I think it’s perfectly normal and considering what most of the ‘relationships’ are like at that age, I don’t think you’re missing much.

      I’m very positive on being single because it gives you so much freedom, something that you won’t have later on in the same way if you eventually want to do the marriage/ babies thing. Why would you want to forgo all of that unless the person is REALLY worth it?

    • macalny

      1) You’re 22. It’s not unusual for a 22-year-old to never have been in a ‘real’ relationship. Not that it makes your story less interesting or the effort put into the writing of this less, I’m just saying. You’ll have a ‘real’ relationship one day. Although, in all honesty, you seem to not want one. Which then begs the question, what’s the point of the post, exactly?

      2) The editors at The Gloss are off their game – the . outside the ” makes me INSANE!! Why, god, why would you ever do that when you’re not directly quoting someone? (See sentence #2 of this post. And sentence #3. And others.) It’s a terrible example to set and a lame habit to get into. Read Strunk & White if you want to be a writer.

    • HMR

      like Bambi said … “I can relate so much that it’s not even funny” !!!
      as wrong as this sounds..i m glad im not the only one who feels the way i do!!

    • sam

      as condescending as this sounds, one day somebody will wipe off every bullet on the list and completely change your mind. I waited longer than you.

    • Michele

      i can relate to this so much!!

    • Christina

      Your “constant state of singleness?” You’re 22! In what time could you even have had a “real” relationship? You’re only 22, for Christ’s sake. I’m 26 and never had a real relationship. There are people older than me who’ve never had one. Get over yourself.

    • magda h.

      Wow. That’s weirdly like me AND we have the same name. Did I write this and then develop selective amnesia?

    • Lady_Madbeth

      As I read this, I found it oddly resonated with me. I too am 27 years old and have never been in a real relationship. Hell, I was 22 before I had my first kiss and I don’t make it past 3 dates with anyone. I read once and found it interesting, I read it twice and it lost all accountability. The writer makes a few good points, but at the same time is 22 and trying to prescribe external factors on having not been in a relationship: fear of commitment, daddy issues, subconscious sabotage.

      All due respect, at 22 you’re just starting to put your feet on solid ground. Maybe it’s nothing more than that. One thing I have learned is that everything comes down to timing, luck and a little bit of skill. Life, love, you name it, if the timing isn’t right no matter what you do its not going to happen. I truthfully find myself pondering the question: “will I know how to be in a relationship when I find one?”

      In my opinion, yes I will. I say this knowing that I say the wrong things at the wrong time, I say this knowing I’m a total klutz, I say this knowing that I am in no way ready to settle. That’s just it though, I am not ready to settle. Instead of seeing my lack of having a relationship as a problem, I look at it as staying open to possibilities. Lord knows that every time I have had the opportunity to jump, no matter how high or whether there was solid ground in sight, I have jumped.

      Fear or not, Life and love is about taking chances. Just because you haven’t been there doesn’t mean you can’t do that, or you won’t ever be able to. It just hasn’t been right. Being afraid only makes me want to over come. Put yourself out there, and the universe will come back full circle with something greater than you imagined. The only thing you have to do is not be afraid to strike out when you step up to the plate.


    • JamesC

      Perhaps I can show you where this can end up as you get into your senior years. Ever since I started dating as a teenager I have been unable to function sexually in a relationship once it begins to get serious. An abusive childhood is the cause and many years of therapy has not been able to fix the problem. According to my therapists what happens is I am so subconsciously afraid of intimacy that when I feel I have lost control over the level of intimacy in a relationship I suffer from an enormous level of anxiety which itself is subconscious but nevertheless causes me to lose all sexual desire for the person I am with. This is often happened after the 3rd or 4th sexual encounter with any given woman. Indeed it happened to my wife when I decided finally, at age 40 to get married because i wanted kids. I promised her before the wedding that I would seek help after we married and I did do this but after many therapists over many years no one could help and my marriage has been sexless for over 2 decades. Childhood abuse causes the person to equate closeness with fear, anxiety and stress and no matter how much you want to have a normal relationship it is impossible. I also have a lot of trouble getting close to people outside my marriage and have few close friends. I always distance myself when anyone tries to get too close. It has made for a very unhappy life.

    • Nyra

      I read this thinking when did I write this…

    • Kmeow

      Thank you goddess’ for this post! I’m also a single woman who was pondering if something was wrong with me because I’m so used to being single, it’s comfortable and even thinking about a relationship freaks me out!!! Just remember everything we need will come at the perfect time :)