Fear of Intimacy and Ways to Overcome it

One thing that many women who suffer from vaginismus fear, or end up being afraid of, is intimacy.

I never used to be afraid of intimacy, but after knowingly having vaginismus and experiencing painful sex for almost 2 years, I began to shy away from it.

Keep in mind intimacy doesn’t mean just sex. Intimacy is also cuddling, kissing, hand holding, massages or anything that brings you closer to your partner emotionally and mentally.

In my relationships, I grew afraid of kissing and eventually being close to my partner altogether. The pain associated with sex made me fear intimacy of any kind because intimacy had always led to sex, which was painful.

When I first met my husband, intimacy was fun and enjoyable. We had a great time getting to know each other and goofing around. However, that’s the phase when everything is new and exciting. After a few years, the newness wore off, and fear began to creep into my brain once more.

I avoided kissing, holding hands or cuddling and couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t realize that it was because I associated those acts with sex itself.

It wasn’t until I began to talk with my husband and therapist that they told me intimacy doesn’t always mean sex, and whenever my husband and I are intimate, it won’t lead to sex because he knows it’s painful and he respects my boundaries.

However, my brain still has many problems with intimacy. Even after knowing all of this, I can’t stop being afraid or not wanting to do any of those simple acts.

It’s frustrating because I remember being so into intimacy and enjoying getting dolled up or whatever, but now I’m just numb to it. In fact, I don’t even think about intimacy or sex anymore. It’s only when I’m writing these blogs do these things cross my mind.

So, if you are in this same predicament and are worried that you won’t ever be interested in intimacy again, I have good news for you!

You can relearn intimacy.

It sounds silly, or maybe even basic to some, but for those who suffer from vaginismus it’s extra weighted guilt on our shoulders that we carry around all the time. Why can’t we simply be intimate with our partners? Why is it so hard to just make out with them when they ask? Why can’t I just initiate it?

Relearning intimacy takes time, and there is no straightforward answer to get you to the finish line. All of us are wired differently and have experienced different things that led us to contract this condition. So, the best thing you can do is try some of these ideas and tweak them to what feels right for you.

Exposure Therapy

My therapist has me working on this type of therapy because it’s something that you can do at your own pace. No one is rushing you to move forward or pressuring you to reach the finish line sooner.

The outline is very simple.

You start with a very basic form of intimacy, one that makes you feel less nervous than the others, and focus on doing that with your partner. For instance, maybe hand holding is the type of intimacy that makes you feel less nervous. Try holding your partners hand whenever you can. That act will eventually become less scary over time and even instinctive. Eventually, you’ll be grabbing their hand without even realizing it.

After you feel comfortable with Step Number 1, move onto the next type of act that you feel less anxious about.

Perhaps, you’ve grown up the courage to give your partner a massage, or even to receive a massage. Do this with them as much as you can. You could even be sitting on the couch watching TV and offer to give them a massage, or vise versa.

Keep doing these steps with new forms of intimacy, until you become less anxious about it altogether.

Try Something New

For me, I hate when the focus is completely on me. I prefer to give rather than receive. I don’t want the attention, but I still want my partner to feel loved and satisfied.

So, how can I refocus the attention away from me?

Bring new things into the bedroom.

Again, I’m not talking about penetrative sex, but if you have newly overcome your condition and aren’t sure how to simply go from avoiding intimacy to having a healthy sex life, then this would also benefit you.

Bringing new things into your love life, like toys or games, will get the attention off of you and onto these objects.

You won’t feel like the focus is completely on you because both of you are learning something new together.

Not only that, but it can also help to reignite any passion that might have been lost after not being intimate for so long.

Learn To Become More Comfortable With Your Own Body

Many of us were taught that our bodies shouldn’t be touched by our own hands. We were told that girls shouldn’t do this because it’s gross, inappropriate or wrong. However, it’s important to know your body and become comfortable in it.

Being comfortable with your body can mean:

  1. Understanding what you like and don’t like
  2. Knowing your own anatomy
  3. Feeling happy with how you look, and knowing that you are beautiful

All of these things contribute to how you feel towards intimacy. For instance, if you feel fat or ugly, you probably avoid intimacy because you are nervous of taking your clothes off in front of your partner. Maybe you avoid intimacy because you don’t really understand what your wants and needs are?

The best way to become comfortable in your own skin is to:

  1. Learn to love yourself
  2. Explore yourself physically

Don’t be afraid to get naked and stand in front of the mirror just staring at yourself. In fact, my therapist mentioned that this technique is often used for women who have body dysmorphia. I do, and I thought she was completely bonkers to even bring up this idea.

However, one day, I decided to try it. I stood in the mirror, completely naked, and just stared at myself for 5 minutes or so. I thought it would be the hardest thing for me to do, and that I would hate my body even more afterwards.

Turns out, she was right and I was wrong.

As I stood there, I began to point out parts of my body that I do like without even realizing it. Before I knew it, five minutes came and went. I definitely felt better about myself and knew that if I did this regularly, I would have a different mindset on my body image altogether.

Additionally, if you have never really understood your own anatomy or seen yourself, just take a look! What’s the harm in that?

You might feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, but that’s just because society has put this idea in your head that girls shouldn’t masturbate or look at themselves.

Throw those ideologies away and forget they ever existed!

You do you…literally 😉


This tip is not just about exploring yourself and becoming comfortable in your own skin, but exploring your partner as well.

Sometimes, we are nervous because we feel completely vulnerable being intimate with someone else. That’s extremely common!

Try exploring each others bodies with your clothes on. You don’t even have to touch the intimate areas. You can simply touch each others arms, legs, back, etc.

Eventually, ease into exploring the intimate areas with touch alone. You can do this with your clothes on until you feel comfortable doing it with your clothes off.

You don’t have to do anything sexual while you explore each others bodies, you can simply just talk to each other. That is intimacy as well.

You can talk about what you are feeling, how your day was or things you would be interesting in trying. Keep things light and simple or have a deep and meaningful conversation. Either way, this will bring you closer together and make you feel more comfortable.

Dilating Around Your Partner

This last tip might seem stressful at first, but once you try it a few times, you will find that it’s helpful on multiple levels.

Not only are you using your dilators to help treat your vaginismus, but you are also becoming closer to your partner on a very intimate level.

By having them in the room while you use the dilators, you are learning to become comfortable around them during a very vulnerable time.

You can simply have them beside you while you have the dilator inserted or you can even have them insert the dilator for you. This gives them a chance to not only feel like they are a part of this process, but it also helps them to understand what feels okay and what doesn’t. Keep in mind, you are still in complete control of the situation. You tell them what to do and don’t give them the full reins.

By having them insert the dilators, it will also help your body grow accustomed to them being so close to you down there. The dilators are useful tools, but you won’t ultimately be having sex with a dilator!

Since you are afraid of intimacy, your muscles probably clench at your partner being close or touching you, especially in that region. This will be good practice to teach your PC muscles to relax when your partner is close to you in such an intimate way.

If you feel your muscles no longer tensing when they are helping you to insert the dilator, maybe even try having them move the dilator a bit or position your bodies like you would if you were going to be intimate.

Remember, relearning intimacy doesn’t just happen overnight, nor can you rush the process. You have to put work into it. You can’t just try one of these techniques out once and think that everything will be fine and dandy now. You have to keep practicing until you overcome your fear. This will in turn help you to overcome your vaginismus.

I hope these tips help, but don’t be afraid to ask questions down below if you have them! Perhaps, you are even struggling with something specific and would like to email me about it. I’d be happy to help!

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