Fear of Intimacy After Leaving a Toxic Relationship?

Fear of Intimacy After Leaving a Toxic Relationship? fear of intimacy after leaving a toxic relationship?
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One of the greatest struggles for anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship is the deep, soul-level challenge of letting anyone get truly close to you again, emotionally or physically. You’ve read all the self-help books and have been ‘thoroughly’ working on yourself and even doing therapy. When someone new tries to get close to you romantically or seeks real intimacy, you feel like shutting down and putting up walls around your heart right away.

You may understand logically that this new person isn’t like your narcissistic ex who destroyed your trust and boundaries. You see that they don’t show any red flags, and they’ve supported you throughout your healing journey. You know they don’t deserve the suspicion and hypervigilance you’re feeling, but even though you know this in your head, it doesn’t stop the overwhelming fear and alarms going off in your body at the thought of opening up again. You generally fear intimacy or closeness to another person, and you may end up isolating yourself or even sabotaging some healthy friendships and relationships. So, why does this happen?

Vulnerability = Imminent Doom

When you’ve been in a toxic relationship, it plants the belief that being vulnerable only leads to pain or disaster. In the beginning, they manipulated you by offering the intimacy you craved, only to snatch it away when it hurt the most. Your vulnerability then becomes a weapon used against you in the devaluation phase. You end up regretting opening up so much, as they exploit what you shared to manipulate and control you. After enduring this for a long time, you start believing that your vulnerability is the problem, rather than recognizing the abuse for what it is.

Even years later, when you’re bravely trying to date again, your unconscious programming sees any emotionally intimate situation as a sure path to pain and suffering. You instinctively pull back, shut down, and reject before your trust can be shattered again, just like it has been so many times before. You’re still living the present from the eyes of your painful past. Being open and vulnerable now always feels like willingly handing someone the dagger to gut you once more.

Fearing the Genuine as Much as the Fake

When you start bonding or connecting with someone, or try to build a relationship with a seemingly healthy partner who can handle vulnerability, the initial flood of care and affection doesn’t just feel unfamiliar — it actually stirs up pain from your past where your vulnerability was wounded. Even when someone consistently shows up, you’re primed to panic when it feels too real — too perfect to trust.


Instead of finding comfort, you may feel suspicion and anxiety because your subconscious mind isn’t used to genuine care and concern. You might find yourself avoiding those who genuinely care about you, as your mind is more comfortable with the familiar unhealthy patterns of being taken for granted. Your mind holds onto the belief that this is what you deserve, rejecting what it’s not accustomed to and welcoming what has been predominant in your life.

The Only Shortcut is To Face the Fear

If you’ve been caught in toxic relationship patterns, there’s a lot to work through when it comes to being open to intimacy again. Just telling yourself that the next person isn’t like your toxic ex won’t instantly make it easier to trust again. There are no shortcuts to this process; the only way forward is to look within yourself and confront your fear of intimacy.

Without vulnerability, it’s difficult to truly connect with others on a deeper level. You might find yourself using past experiences as references or limits to your present interactions. But when you let go of your attachment to those past experiences, you can see them as lessons that expand your present reality, allowing for more meaningful connections.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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