It's common for many people to
go into a relationship with baggage. Regardless of whether that comes from a past relationship or childhood, any baggage you still carry will have a way of affecting your current or future relationship. For some, that can make falling in love or maintaining a positive relationship super challenging. According to experts, your struggles with intimacy may be signs of larger emotional difficulties.
"Love is an essential part of humanity," Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW, of
Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Bustle. "Most people take their relationship skills for granted, but the reality is that a loving, healthy relationship doesn’t come easily to everyone." According to Dr. Raichbach, there are many psychological reasons behind why someone might have a hard time falling in love or staying in a committed, healthy relationship.
Fear, for instance, is one of the most common psychological reasons behind why someone may struggle with falling in love or maintaining a loving relationship. Being in a
healthy relationship requires you to open up and be vulnerable. When you're scared of doing that, it's hard for your partner to feel emotionally safe with you.
"The psychology behind relationship issues is an intricate, tangled web of the complexities of a person's history in life and love," Gina Yannotta, COO and Head Matchmaker of
The Vida Consultancy, tells Bustle. Many people tend to struggle with opening up and making a commitment to someone if they've been hurt in the past, let down, or betrayed. Although every person's situation is different, the struggle to maintain a healthy and positive relationship is what can eventually happen if intimacy issues. But these can be worked through, either by talking with loved ones or a therapist.
So here are some signs your
intimacy issues may stem from a larger emotional problem, according to experts.
You Start Pulling Away When Your Partner Starts Opening Up To You
"Fear of commitment, vulnerability and of intimacy keep individuals from opening up, making it extremely difficult for them to sustain a partnership or even get past the first stages of dating," Dr. Raichbach says. For the most part, feeling hesitant to open up to another person right away is common. According to him, this fear kicks in to keep us a safe distance away from people who might hurt us physically or emotionally. "The problem occurs when these fears prevent us from letting anyone in at all," Dr. Raichbach says. In other words, that fear tends to stay with someone who may have an emotional problem like anxiety. If your partner starts opening up to you and you get scared because you know they expect you to do the same, it may be something to talk out with them, or with a therapist who can help you find the root of the problem.
You Believe Your Partner Is Going To Let You Down Eventually
"People who have been hurt in the past or who have experienced betrayal or abuse may have a hard time seeing the good in others and as a result may not be able to fall in love," Licensed Psychologist,
Dr. Laura Louis, tells Bustle. When this happens, you may have limiting beliefs (i.e. Everyone cheats or I'll never find love that lasts), which may prevent you from seeing the potential in your partner. "I suggest seeking help to unpack the baggage from the past," she says. "Baggage from the past that is not addressed or dealt with will spill over into new experiences or relationships."
Affection Makes You Very Uncomfortable
Sometimes, intimacy issues
don't come from a past relationship. Commitment problems can also stem from childhood. "Growing up in a household of unhappily-married parents, who stayed together only for the sake of the children, may not imbue in their children the notion of what it means to have a warm, affectionate relationship with another person," Yannotta says. If your partner isn't the touchy-feely type, then that might work out in its own way. But showing affection and being able to feel comfortable with those warm, loving feelings is important for a relationship. If not discussed and worked through, it can create distance in your relationship. "It takes communication, honesty, and being open," relationship coaches Diana and Todd Mitchem tell Bustle. "If your partner loves holding hands but you hate physical touch, you will both have to come up with a solution that fills your 'intimacy cup' and their 'touch quota.'"
You Have A Hard Time Believing Your Partner When They Compliment You
If your past damaged your self-esteem, that can prevent you from having that healthy relationship you want. For instance, you may not trust that your partner really means it when they compliment you or you don't really believe it when they say they love you. If you keep brushing it off or downplaying their feelings, it can leave them feeling frustrated. When you have emotional problems, it's hard to believe someone can love you when you don't exactly love yourself. But as Yannotta says, if you love someone, you accept them wholeheartedly in their entirety. "The two of you can sit down and address the problems at hand, eke out their origin and discover why they still exist," she says. "Try to articulate clearly exactly what it is you are anxious about or fearful of within your relationship. Perhaps seeking professional guidance or support is an option."
You Don't Really See The Point Of Making A Commitment To Anyone
If you have an emotional problem that makes it difficult for you to be vulnerable with someone, you may not see the benefit of having a deep romantic partnership at all. "Sometimes people don’t see the need to have intimate or committed relationships," relationship counselor
Monte Drenner tells Bustle. "They are just wired to be more independent and do not want to 'need' someone else to complete them. Since they do not see the need for intimacy they do not seek commitment." Being single and independent is perfectly OK, but avoiding intimacy all together might cause you to have more short-term, surface level relationships. And if that's not what you truly want, it may be worth it to talk to someone about it.
You Suspect Your Partner Of Doing Something Wrong
When you have intimacy issues, you might assume the worst because your trust issues will make you anxious when there may not be reason to be. For instance, if your partner doesn't text you back right away, you might assume they're starting to fade out. If you see them talking to someone, you'll worry that they're probably cheating. Trust issues, if not worked on, can prevent you from having a healthy relationship. It can make you closed off and it can have you inventing stories in your mind that aren't necessarily true. But as Yannotta says, you can work through it if you're willing to try. "Give it as long as it takes," she says. "True love is a rare gift. The ideal, fantasy person in your head does not exist because we are all scarred, one way or another." If you open up to your partner about your fears, you can even work on it together.
You Feel Like You Need To Hide Who You Truly Are
If you start getting anxious over the fact that your partner will eventually see the real you and won't like it, that can create distance in your relationship. It goes back to that fear of being vulnerable, which can hinder a relationship from growing. "Someone who is apprehensive about relationships can start to overcome their fears by establishing a process for recognizing and understanding these fears, and then working through them," Dr. Raichbach says. "If you are someone who has found themselves in a relationship but are unable to fully surrender to the idea of love, it’s vital that your partner is involved in this process.”
Many times, people don't realize they're pushing their partner away or closing themselves off to love. When you're dealing with emotional problems like depression or anxiety, you may not feel worthy of being loved so you're more likely to stay stuck in the same types of negative relationships that you're used to. But it doesn't have to be like that. Working through the issues you may have — potentially with a therapist — is the only way to truly move forward in a healthy and positive way. Don't let anxiety and fear prevent you from experiencing all the great things that come with being in love.