Do you really know what intimacy is? Many people are under the mistaken impression that it’s about romance, yet… intimacy is (or should be) a feature in every type of relationship. It simply means to make known, which means that you allow yourself to be truly known to those closest in your life, and in turn, you make the effort to truly know them.

While you can survive without intimacy, you certainly cannot thrive in the way you deserve. If you don’t allow yourself to connect with the people in your life you may grow lonely, become anxious, depressed, and potentially experience health problems, which may include an early death. Are you afraid of emotional intimacy? Here are some of the big signs that you are.

You’re Kind Of A Workaholic

Often, we brag about our dedication to our jobs and careers- but it could be a sign that you’re afraid of intimacy. Not only that but working long hours is rough on your physical health, too. While there are some jobs that may demand excess hours, for the most part, the people who bury themselves in their work do so as a choice. They are trying to avoid feelings of anger, sadness or shame. They do this by keeping busy, they can ignore their feelings easily and pretend they don’t exist. This is true even for those people in established relationships. It’s easy to get into a rut and for that routine to prevent intimacy. Why not have a weekly date night? This can be with your partner or a good friend you don’t see enough of. Do activities that you enjoy, but make sure the other person also enjoys them, you can always take turns choosing. Just be sure your phones are off, and you are focused on each other.

You Won’t Share Friends

Do you have a partner that you refuse to introduce to friends and family? You are definitely afraid of emotional intimacy. If you keep your life segmented, you are hiding pieces of who you are from different groups of people in your life. This could be due to anxiety or a self-esteem problem, but the reason doesn’t matter. The issue is that you are unwilling to open your life and show them who you are on a deeper level. If this is all new to you, start with one person at a time and start breaking down your walls. It may be easier to do it in increments than by starting with a group, though… there is safety in groups and if the idea of sitting with your partner, parents, and yourself is terrifying, perhaps introducing your larger friend group on a casual night out may be the easier first step. It’s up to you.

Your History Proves It

Take a look at your history… is there a stream of broken platonic and romantic relationships? What happened? No one can say for sure, they just… didn’t work out. It might be your fear of emotional intimacy that caused this. While the thought of identifying negative patterns on your behalf isn’t the most pleasant thought, it might be a good way to break the hold your fear has over you.

Do you prefer to spend time in groups, avoiding spending one-on-one time with anyone? When you do spend time with someone do you choose activities that involve as little conversation as possible? You may have a fear of emotional intimacy. These fears run deep and often, you may find that the roots are in your childhood.

If you think this is a problem you’re experiencing you may want to consider reaching out to a therapist who can help you determine the root cause of the problem, which will help you eradicate your issues and allow you to flourish in life.