3 Reasons Why Men Have a Fear of Relationships and Intimacy (…and What You can Do about It)

Noam LightstoneThe Avoider Mentality, Fear of Intimacy, and Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) Leave a Comment

Why do men have a fear of relationships and intimacy?

This is at the core of a lot of the questions I get asked.

The problem is, us guys aren’t even aware of the fear most of the time…until it’s too late.

We either go through life never experiencing the opportunities and connections available to us, our girlfriends or wives leave us saying, “You don’t open up enough and don’t listen or talk to me.”

We’re left to sit, scratch our heads, get angry, cry, and not understand what’s going on.

The fear of relationships and intimacy is one of the worst fears you can have. It keeps you isolated and alone not only within your romantic relationships (if you have any), but with friends, co-workers, and everyone else.

I listed several reasons in my book on why people become avoiders and have a fear intimacy, and I’m going to explain and expand on them for you.

In this article, you’re going to learn why men have a fear of intimacy, and what they can do about it to start opening up and getting over it.

1. They have or had complicated relationships with their parents, especially their moms.

We learn how to relate with others and form relationships with the two sexes with the first people we meet and that we’re exposed to: our mom and dad.

If complicated relationships arise with them, then it gets translated out into how we interact with others as we grow up, and we’re going to develop a fear of relationships and intimacy.

We also learn a lot about how to run romantic relationships in seeing how they interact with each other.

Now when we talk about intimacy we usually think about romantic relationships. For a man, his relationship with his mom is going to be more of a primary indicator of the types of neuroses, insecurities, and fears he’s going to have to deal with in dating when compared to that with his dad.

The more complicated the relationship, the more problems he’ll have.

Here are some examples involving either parent:

  • If mom was absent, involved in her own world, didn’t say she loved him, etc…Then a man is going to feel like he lacked intimacy, women are self-absorbed, and his needs aren’t important.
  • If dad was constantly busy with work and didn’t make time for him, he’ll feel like when his (guy) friends say that their busy that nobody cares about him.
  • If he had overly critical parents that never told him that he was OK just as he was, or celebrated his accomplishments, he’s going to feel like he can never be good enough, and try to prove himself to anyone and everyone.
  • If he had intrusive parents who didn’t give him privacy, space, or leave him alone, he’ll always feel crowded when people ask about him, and tend to want to keep his life private.
  • Finally, if his parents were over-invested in him and there was “emotional incest,” there will be problems. This is when your parents use you to get their own emotional needs met, treating you as surrogate husbands or wives. For example: a mom who vents all of her emotional problems to you, expecting you to provide her with support like your dad should.

2. They have issues from previous relationships, or they’ve never had any relationships at all.

Not only can issues with parents affect how a guy navigates his relationships, but his past interactions with women (or lack thereof) can also play a role.


Here are some potential issues:

  • Being cheated on, leading to trust issues.
  • Feeling like he wasn’t cared for in his early relationships, where the other person’s needs were the only thing that mattered.
  • Never dating any women AT ALL or having a girlfriend will lead him to feel like he’s not good enough for women in general. He’ll put an IMMENSE amount of pressure on himself, he’ll think he isn’t worthy of love, etc.
  • Going through a divorce, which will lead to a lot of hesitancy to open himself up again.
  • Being involved in “push-pull” dynamics in previous relationships, where he felt like someone would give him affection and attention, then take it away.
  • Having sex withheld from him: If sex was used as a bargaining tool, he’s going to assume that women don’t just want to have sex out of pure joy, with him, and that there’s always an ulterior motive.


3. They went through traumatic experiences as a kid.

The final piece of a guy’s past that can lead to a fear of relationships and intimacy is what he went through as a kid.


  • He was abused or sexually assaulted.
  • He was bullied.
  • He was a loner or socially ostracized.
  • He experienced the death of a parent.

It’s going to also lead to him feeling like he can’t trust people, people will end up hurting him, and so on.

Nobody gets by unscathed in life, so I’m not saying that just because a guy might have gone through one or some of these things that he can’t have good relationships or meet girls.

I’ve definitely gone through some of this stuff yet somehow manage to date girls, and I’m getting better and better at connecting with them, and just enjoying them as awesome people.

But, there are definitely some things a guy can do to fast track his way to getting over his fear of intimacy, enjoying awesome connections and sex with women, and also having ALL of his relationships improve:

How a Man Can Get over His Fear of Relationships and Intimacy

A man should get introduced to the following suggestions:

1. A man should understand and internalize what populations bias means — one does not equal many.

Population bias (or selection bias) refers to when you judge an entire group based on a limited sample size.

This is where dangerous blanket statements and conclusions come from. For example, “My last girlfriend cheated on me. Therefore, all women are lying, cheating bitches who can’t be trusted.”

A guy is assuming that all women will cheat which is not the case.

He has to internalize that what happened with one or a few women does not mean that all women are like that, or that it’ll happen again.

On a related note…

2. A man should reflect on this quote: “The past is the past, and does not have to or control your future.”

A friend of mine once told me an interesting story I meditated on:

He was dating a girl at the time and brought her to the bar he worked at.

Before they walked in, she quickly pulled him out and hid her face.

He asked her, “What’s wrong?”

She said that a girl who used to bully her worked inside.

Of course, you’ll probably never want to be friends with your school bullies, but he said something that really stuck with me:

Grade school was a long time ago. You’re telling me that as an adult, you can’t get past what happened then and you’re going to let yourself be controlled by it? You’re going to let yourself be defined by what a bunch of snot-nosed kids said who didn’t no shit back then, who didn’t know who you were? You’re going to let them stop you from becoming the awesome person you were meant to be?…

Then what does that say about you?”

I was bullied a lot when I was a kid and this really hit me.

Would I really let myself be defined by kids, who don’t know anything, and don’t know me now?

Fuck no, that sounds ludicrous and hilarious!

Why would I let 8 year olds tell my 20+ year old self how to be, and how to behave?

Of course, this is easier said than done. There needs to be tools and action to back this up:

3. A man should study “inner game,” inner work, No More Mr. Nice Guy techniques, and learn tools to help himself.

Without fixing his mindset and getting the proper tools, a guy will never be able to improve his relationships.

The men’s dating advice arena uses the term “inner game,” but you can also call it “inner work,” or just dealing with the emotional baggage.

Dr. Robert Glover’s book, No More Mr. Nice Guy is AMAZING for this and I whole-heartedly recommend a guy check it out if he’s looking to transform his life, relationships, work, and more.


Finally, he’ll have to learn the tools to help himself so he can handle anything no matter what.

If he can’t do the inner work on his own…

4. A man can consider going to therapy.

If a guy has been through a lot, he’ll need to go to therapy, at least for a short while.

It was lucky that I was in super fanboy mode back in my dating arena days and read Mark Manson’s Models, which suggested to potentially go to therapy…

And since I was doing whatever the gurus told me to do, I checked in.

I never realized how much I’d been through that was weighing on my mind, and multiple rounds of therapy REALLY helped me.

I’d probably consider going back to keep cleaning out more garbage too.

Therapy isn’t necessary if you haven’t been through a lot, but if a guy nods his head to the list at the beginning of the article to what he’s been through, it’s time to find a good therapist or social worker.

But eventually…

5. A man must take action, and talk to women to find out that they’re OK.


In the end, the only real thing that’s going to change a man’s mind is positive reference experiences.

Until he has them, he won’t believe the possibilities, and you can only run on faith for so long.

But he can engineer this. It doesn’t mean he has to jump into having an amazing girlfriend from day 1…

He can start by just talking to cashiers and clerks, asking how their day is going, and making jokes. He can ask about who they are, and see that they don’t bite his head off.

He can start talking to women at networking events and see that they’re normal, have ups and downs, hope and dreams, and strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.

If he’s single, he can move on to dating them, and slowly getting into the water. He can start to trust and open up to them while getting over his fears.

If he’s in a relationship, he can still be talking to women in a friendly way, but then can start pushing himself in his relationship to communicate authentically and say what’s on his mind.

By becoming aware of his emotional issues, and slowly working away to them, a man can claim his life back and enjoy everything and everyone that’s out there.

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