How do you deal with fear of intimacy, and how do you feel safe and trusting in a connection?

Join relationship expert Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from as they share simple, practical steps you can take to bring the passion back into your life, and create warmth and love again.

Cathy: Hi, everyone. What do you do when you’re afraid of physical intimacy? You want to be close, your body may be longing for it, you know that it will make your life better and you’re just afraid to go there. I’m Cathy Vartuli from and this is Reid Mihalko from Thanks for coming, Reid.

Reid: Thank you for having me.

Cathy: So it can be really intimidating and facing that fear in a society that doesn’t talk about it very much can be challenging.

Reid: Yeah. This is a Pandora’s Box of interesting stuff. It’s not all evil. The main questions about intimacy and the fear of intimacies, one of the major things that comes up for me immediately is the people that you’re considering being intimate with, physically intimate with, do you trust them? If you do not trust them, that might be where some of the fear is coming from.

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: Why are you considering being intimate with somebody with whom you do not trust?

Cathy: Well I love that we were having a discussion the other day about who would you not be physically intimate with and there are a couple of things that came out as first signs of don’t go there. If someone is not meeting your eyes and they can’t be present with you, that’s a good sign that you may want to go there with them.

Reid: Yeah, but somebody who’s meeting your eyes might also be someone who’s just really shy.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: Who you could totally find trustworthy.

Cathy: Yeah, that’s true.

Reid: Your versions of what those things are going to be for you are what they’re going to be but you often have to start to think about this stuff to even start to ferret out what they might be.

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: So again, for me it’s about trust, what do you need for somebody to be trustworthy and then usually what starts happening there is if you really do find them trustworthy, your fear is then about the intimacy not about them.

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: And so what’s that about? What are you actually afraid of?

Cathy: Yes. And you may have had past experiences where it wasn’t pleasant or it could have been abusive or a lot of people are assaulted. In our society, there’s not a lot of room for people to talk about it. I think it’s getting better. If you have some of those things then that could make you very afraid to reach out and open yourself up to someone.

Reid: I mean for me so much of it is yes, some of us have histories where we have a lot of emotion wrapped up in certain behaviors. If you were with somebody that you could absolutely trust, how would that shift the situation? Is it impossible for you to feel like you could trust anybody? You know these are things, areas you can look at and you can start to work on to start to figure out because you’re leaving yourself clues all the time.

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: Almost like a video game. There’s diamonds and things hidden in the game –

Cathy: Treasure.

Reid: — you just have to look around. So what are those gems that you’re leaving yourself that are clues for things that might be able to unlock a big piece for you.

Cathy: Yes. When do you feel safe, when do you feel most unsafe. For me one of the biggest steps I took was learning better boundaries and I love your analogy of if you have a car with no brakes, you’re not going to take it cruising and getting some good brakes on your car, you’re going to feel a lot more confident going out there. So if you can learn to say no and feel safe saying it to other people and expecting them to respect that. It gives you a lot more room to go out there and feel safe connecting.

Reid: Yeah and a lot of other things that people usually think of especially in America you think of worst case scenarios. So intimacy automatically must mean we’re having sex and it kicks up all your other fears.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: If you took some steps back what are other ways you could be intimate? You know the baby step ways where you can go nice and slow so things don’t speed up too quickly but also you’re doing things that allow for you to have the connection and to explore the intimacy but aren’t the – you know you’re going from zero to 120 in three steps. What are those things that are way back at like 5 miles an hour and 10 miles an hour, not 120. Give yourself permission to have those things whether it’s sitting in a movie theatre and holding hands.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid: Or sharing, massaging each other’s hands or each other’s feet. All these other things you get to do, kissing each other while fully clothed, kissing each other while fully clothed in the front seat of your car in a well-lit park, like wherever you are. It doesn’t have to be intimacy equals we are in bed.

Cathy: You get naked or anything like that.

Reid: Yeah.

Cathy: And some of the – when I was healing from a lot of the abuse I had, one of the books I read that I really liked recommended if you have someone you trust, have an agreement. I’m just going to touch your arm, we’re just going to touch each other’s arm tonight. We’re not going to go any further and make that hard and fast. Just let yourself explore and feel what comes up and let yourself feel safe enjoying that touch.

Reid: Yeah.

Cathy: So it’s great if you have someone that you can explore that with. So anything else?

Reid: Nope, I think that’s good for now.

Cathy: Thank you. Please leave comments below. We’d love to know what you think, what your questions are, what you’d like to hear more of.

Reid: Thanks for being here.

Cathy: Bye.

Reid: Bye.


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What To Do If Your Partner Isn’t Hard

Penis Size, Sexual Shame and Confidence