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This is the second installment in a 2-part article series about struggles with intimacy that are relatively common in gay relationships. In Part 1 of the series, “intimacy freak-out” was defined and the reasons why gay men are prone to this phenomenon were discussed. This article will address some of the common intimacy fears that could block your potential for true connection with your partner and will offer some tips for enhancing your comfort with intimacy to help you achieve ultimate relationship bliss!

The “Freak-Out” Checklist

In my training and work with gay men, I have found some common intimacy fears that can prevent us from experiencing the depths of fulfillment that love can offer. Take a look through this list of fears to determine if there may be anything getting in the way of your ability to be uninhibited and free with your lover. Identifying your emotional blocks to intimacy is the first step toward freeing yourself from their grip. Add your own to the list.
_____ fear of abandonment
_____ fear of rejection and being neglected
_____ fear of engulfment or being suffocated/smothered
_____ fear of loss of control
_____ threatened by loss of personal freedom
_____ fear of being disappointed or “let down” by partner
_____ low self-esteem, fears of not being “good enough”
_____ fear of affection and sex
_____ fear of exposure, of being known for who you really are
_____ difficulties with trust
_____ difficulties expressing one’s emotions/feelings
_____ fear of failure
_____ other


As you can see, any one of the above intimacy fears can stifle you to the point that you’re not fully able to be “at one” with a partner because you’re holding yourself back. Fear may be too strong a word for some of the items—any hint of uneasiness or discomfort is indicative of an “issue” of some form. While it’s important to have boundaries and protect yourself from emotional harm, these characteristics can act as a barrier to experiencing love to its fullest capacity if they become a patterned response.

In addition to these fears, it might be helpful to examine some of the contributing factors that led to the anxiety in the first place. Here are some questions to ponder to get you started in looking at how the difficulties with intimacy you may have could have developed.

  • How did your parents show affection and intimacy when you were growing up?
  • Any childhood wounds, abuse, or loss from the past that make relationships difficult?
  • Any unresolved family-of-origin issues that create baggage for you?
  • Are you unable to grieve and “let go” of the break-up of a prior relationship?
  • How about internalized homophobia? Low self-esteem?
  • Any negative experiences with other males growing up that left an imprint on you?

Whether you’re partnered or single, knowledge of your intimacy blocks and contributing factors can help armor you in defeating them so you can have the most ultimate relationship possible.

Become An Intimacy Champ

So you want to be a pro at this intimacy stuff and really super-charge your relationship and knock your partner’s socks off? While it won’t happen overnight, with persistent practice of the following tips, you’ll begin to see a positive evolution take place in your relationship with more connection and emotional intimacy.

What You Can Do As An Individual

  • Face your anxiety head-on. The more you run from it, the stronger hold it’ll have on you. Learn and practice relaxation techniques to calm and soothe you.
  • Identify your triggers. How are your “freak-out” symptoms manifested and under what conditions?
  • Combat your male gender socialization script by becoming more proficient in emotional intelligence and expression.
  • Develop positive self-esteem and confidence through taking risks to further your personal growth and work aggressively at defeating any internalized homophobia.
  • Identify any negative, limiting beliefs you may have about relationships, masculinity, and being gay and counter them with new, affirming messages. Read up on cognitive restructuring techniques for help with this.
  • Gain closure on unfinished business from the past. Your past doesn’t have to keep you stuck, no matter how traumatic it may have been. You have the power to shape a new destiny.

What You Can Do As A Couple

  • Make your relationship the number one priority in your lives. Devote lots of quality time together and protect your partnership from competing outside sources.
  • Build a relationship tool-box filled with skills in communication, conflict negotiation, boundaries, and problem-solving.
  • Cultivate a hot sex life together, filled with creativity and passion.
  • Develop a shared vision and goals for the future together as a couple.
  • Give each other frequent “positive strokes,” appreciate each other for who you are, share your feelings, take responsibility for your issues, and practice the art of forgiveness.


Through a relationship with another man who is just as motivated as you to nurture a positive connection on all levels, you too can experience one of the most powerful and healing forces life has to offer. It’ll mean confronting some of your anxieties directly and being receptive to encountering a wide range of emotions and experiences. It’s worth it! After all, the road to gay self-acceptance and happiness has been hard enough to then rob yourself of one of life’s most precious gifts; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice what’s rightfully yours to claim and enjoy. You deserve love! Cheers to your intimacy quest!
References:  The term “intimacy freak-out” taken from Crowell,Al(1995). I’d Rather Be Married: Finding Your Future Spouse. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

© 2005 Brian L. Rzepczynski

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and this resource box are included:
Brian Rzepczynski, Certified Personal Life Coach, is The Gay Love Coach: “I work with gay men who are ready to create a road map that will lead them to find and build a lasting partnership with Mr. Right.” To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs, and teleclasses, please visit www.TheGayLoveCoach.com.
Please also include with the article the words © Copyright and prominently display a link to our main page at the end of the article. Any feedback would be appreciated and can be sent to brian@thegaylovecoach.com. Thank you!
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1 Responses to \'Intimacy Freak-Out & Gay Men; Part 2\'

  • On January 18, 12 at 10:40pm, Ken Stofft said...

    Thanks, Brian, for this series. Fear around emotional vulnerability is endemic to men in the USA “culture”. We’re taught not to express our feelings honestly. We’re taught to keep our feelings (emotions) to ourselves. We’re taught that being masculine is being self-sufficient.. We’re taught that being emotionally vulnerable is “feminine” and to steer clear of it. We’re also taught not to be self-aware, not to give total attention to the one who is speaking, not to risk trusting another man! Yikes. That’s a recipe for personal disaster in all of our relationships.

    Sooner or later, it seems to me, that men do begin to face themselves if we give ourselves permission to ‘change’ our attitude toward ourselves and others. When we enter into a self-discovery phase, often around 40-50, and we have the balls to step up and do a serious self-evaluation of what truly is in our best interests, then we begin to live a life of authenticity. We begin to love ourselves for who we are and not what or who we have. This is true liberation and true pride!

    Thanks, Brian, for this website blog. Ken

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