Nowadays we’re pretty tough on people who have a certain kind of fear. People who are afraid of getting close. People who need to sit alone for quite a long time everyday. People who don’t always find it easy to say what’s on their minds. People who need theirs space. We say these sort of people have got a fear of intimacy. And thats’ not a good thing to have. It can get you in trouble. But criticizing the fear of intimacy doesn’t feel right or very productive at all. We’d be far better off with a different approach. For a start, if someone is scared of something it’s never a great idea just to say they’re silly and that there’s nothing to be worried about. It’s a lot more effective to say: we’re a bit scared too and that it’s actually normal to worry. Then it is a good idea to understand the fear. Where has it come from? There’s almost always a history to someone who is afraid of intimacy. A history where getting close to other people got them hurt so that close place has become a problem. We should also take on board just how much of life is about not being intimate. From an early age we’re taught we need to be strong, indipendent and grave. We need to hide our emotions, not say how we’re feeling. Bottle up what’s going on inside. It is no wonder we sometimes find it hard to change gear, and become masters at the art of intimacy. It’s not surprising if we should get a bit stuck and not quite know what to do with the request to say exactly how we feel. We’ve been out in the world too long. We’re battle hardened and just not used to it. We might need a little time. Let’s go easy on those with a fear of intimacy. They’re not bad people. They just find a difficult thing tricky. And we should be on hand to help them with gentleness and understanding.