Fear of Getting Too Close to Someone

October 9, 2013 Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

Have you ever been afraid of getting too close? What makes you feel this way and how can you stop it? Read this article to find out!

Have you ever been afraid of getting too close in relationships?

As humans, it is one of our deepest desires to be in a relationship with others. Closeness is what gives us a sense of belonging, and nurtures a robust sense of self. On the other hand, isolation is one of the worst things for someone who is struggling. Being left alone to deal with our own negative spiral can feel like losing touch with reality. Yet, when we are struggling, we often feel drawn to isolate ourselves. I will tell you why.

Why Isolation Seems Like a Good Idea

When we feel depressed, negative feelings about ourselves come into our mind and into our heart. Emotional pain, and often physical pain, accompany this along with a pervasive conscious or underlying feeling of unworthiness. This unworthiness teases us into thinking we are wrong–either inherently, or because of something we’ve done. (Even if we can’t figure out what it is.)

The burden is so great on our hearts and we feel incredibly vulnerable. We get an idea that reaching out to someone would be a great burden on them, or that they would be disappointed, or angry at us. We think that it would be a sign of weakness, or that we might start to depend on someone and that this would make us even more vulnerable.

Or, that they might hurt us if they knew. Nothing is safe when you are vulnerable. We think that if felt them care we would get needier and dependent-falling off the cliff of sanity.

"What if I lose him?"

Did you ever think one of these:

  • If we got close and she realized who I really am, I would, of course, lose her.
  • No one would like me once they saw the dark inside.
  • What if he couldn’t be patient enough for me?
  • Or, What if she died?

We cannot bear to lose them for any reason.

You have to be alone or you’ll go crazy knowing you could lose them, our Fear says.

For all of these reasons and more, we isolate ourselves, folding into our burden. The loneliness pierces our hearts which is swells ten times its size from the pain.

The very thing we are doing to try to protect us: not getting close, is ripping us apart.

Isolation is no protection. It is suffering.

We need people. People need people because we are social beings. It is in connection that we can find peace. In connection that we can see others clearly. In connection that we are grounded enough to see ourselves and our situations from another perspective.

Always choose connection. Even if you don’t tell people what is going on inside of you, hanging out with them can help lift you out of yourself. It gets your mind off you. Sometimes we think it is lonely to be with people who don’t truly know our problems. Sometimes we get so mad when we “have to pretend” we are OK when we are not. But it is you deciding to pretend, so you are not a victim of it. Stop thinking that you are.

After reading this, please don't pick a person who is mistreating you to get close to. If you are afraid to get close to a person who mistreats you, then listen to yourself. That is your wisdom talking.

Otherwise, get close, allow yourself, because then you will feel better.

Have you ever been afraid to get close to someone?

APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2013, October 9). Fear of Getting Too Close to Someone, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

July, 17 2022 at 9:09 pm

This was so unhelpful. I wanted to know how I could help myself, not be told that it's all in my head. This is why I have trust issues in the first place.

August, 8 2019 at 10:36 pm

Though this is very late, I just found this and I think it has helped me a bit.
I'm a fourteen year old female and I thought that keeping people away would make it better, if I pushed my emotions down and told my self it was just thoughts then maybe I would feel better... But it hasn't gotten better, I feel like no matter what is going on, no matter who I am with.. I can't tell them anything because it would just burden them and I would just be a problem. Recently a big major thing has happened in my life and I suddenly felt as if I couldn't be with anyone anymore, I broke up with my partner, left friendships, and suddenly was even more closed off then ever, my step father had left us after seven years and about a week later he went after my mothers best friend whom was practically my aunt... she has kids of her own and it feels like he's replacing us... I felt like after that and even now, I'm to scared to let anyone in, or to talk to anyone... I feel like I'm to alone in this world of billions.

August, 13 2019 at 10:38 am

Hello there,
I'm glad that you are searching for help and finding some useful information. Another very important source is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( or 1-800-273-8255). They are there to help, and they have information about local resources and support groups. Given what you've described, it is natural to feel so alone. You aren't alone, and you can come to not only see that but create meaningful relationships. Start with the most important relationship of all -- the one with yourself.

Parwinder Singh
November, 16 2018 at 11:21 am

i don't know how to explain this but sometimes i enjoy hanging out with my friends and sometimes i just can't stand them .i don't want to spend time with them or talk to them and i'm also afraid of meeting new people.
i live with my grandmother and she is the most special person in my life.
sometimes i have this weird thoughts that what would i do if anything happens to her ,that i would be left alone and these thoughts really freaked me out.

November, 16 2018 at 2:14 pm

I have similar thoughts at times, so I think I can understand what you're getting at.
I would never say that I can't stand my friends, even if I don't want to hang out with them, and I don't think you can't stand them either. I think you just want to be alone. Some people, myself and yourself included, have a much lower threshold than most when it comes to how much social interaction they can take at one time. This isn't a bad thing - some people are like that. It's only problematic (and unfortunate) if your friends don't understand why you need time to yourself. That's something you have to explain to them, and hope they understand it.
Meeting new people is also very hard. But you shouldn't let that fear cause you to retreat entirely inside yourself. Take things slowly, and realize that it's OK not to know scores and scores of people. What matters isn't knowing a lot of people, but having enough people who are close to you to give you the support you need.
With your grandmother, it sounds like you have that support. I'm also very close to my family, so it worries me too that someday they won't be around like they are now. But that should give you extra incentive to try and get close to people outside your family. Don't beat yourself up if it takes a lot of time. It'll be worth it.

Parwinder Singh
November, 17 2018 at 6:31 am

thanks for your understanding and advice.i really needed that and you are right i would never say that i can't stand them b'coz it's not their fault if they don't understand me sometime.i just fear that i don't become an introvert.

August, 29 2018 at 12:34 pm

Hi , I've experienced this for as long as I could remember I'm a only child and my extended family is torn apart by divorce and my own parents separated due to abuse and domestic violence, I totally blocked childhood and teens because it was so painful emotionally, It was difficult to make friends during that time. I still feel extremely lonely and I'm in my early twenties I'm scared to date anyone because I have no family . I go weeks with out proper affection I use to self harm when I was 19 to about 21, and have been clean for a year I'm terrified to get close to anyone because I don't want a abusive person in my life I feel like a burden in the very little friends I have and all of them have moved so I don't know what to do.

November, 20 2015 at 11:13 pm

Dear Kimberley:
I see this was written quite a few months ago, but I know how it feels to be wary of making friends..keeping friends...having your heart broken. I isolate myself, often because I feel my friends and family are ENJOYING Life, and I will just bring them down.
I try and go to exercise classes, dog park,, where I live and be chipper. When inside I am in about a zillion pieces. Whenever someone gets "close" I know they will realize, that at first glance..or a few conversations, I am "fine" , "ok" and "doing great".after they get to know me, they will realize that I am not like them. My life is one series of disbelief.
I just find it easier not to have to too many people. I figure, they wouldn't "understand".
There are"friends" on my FB page that I used to spend countless HOURS with when Iwas little or when I was working for the County, or when I was in school ( grad school) or college or high school and we NEVER talk on phone. Rarely even message or comment on one another's posts. Some of them were very close one time.
I guess we move on, change and make new friends at our new jobs..etc. ITs hard for me to remember what it feels like to have friends. I've met some new ones, and am trying to cultivate and KEEP the ones that I really like. They are some great people. But I feel they won't understand...won't want to be around someone who is not always "happy" and chipper.
They may or may not relate to what I'm going thru, but I don't even trust them enough to tell them. I don't want to be criticized or separated from the "group" by being too needy, to lonely, too isolated, too sad...too negative. Then I am always on guard when I do go do something with them. Afraid to stand out...different in a bad way. They are NOT the problem, I am. I don't want to be rejected..

Samantha Williamson
November, 20 2015 at 7:16 pm

I had to be isolated to begin with. Once you have spent so much time alone and made yourself a prisoner even when the door is wide open it can be terrifying to go. I used to be so confident and sure of myself. I know I have clinical depression but that's about all. The mental health system is in crisis. I have been to my gp saying I have regular intrusive suicidal thoughts and been told that they can not do anything. I have been having these thoughts since April this year. I need it to stop and I am doing everything I can regarding seeing CPN's support workers OT's. I just want to get better

November, 20 2015 at 6:18 pm

After fearing closeness and touch for over half my life, I have a new best friend that I am allowing myself to get close to. We hug and even took a nap together today. It wasn't anything sexual, just two people lying next to one another in a bed. It felt comforting to be close to someone and know that I was safe.
I deal with depression, anxiety, OCD, and an eating disorder, so isolation has been a part of my life since high school. I am now 43 and am finally ok with opening up and letting people in. It's scary, but nice.

Kimberley Scott
April, 25 2015 at 7:28 am

I find it very hard these days to be friendly on a personal level with anyone. Not because they'll leave or die. It's because I am afraid of being verbally attacked or criticized for the person I am. This is why I isolate myself a lot. When I long for the way I used to be more trusting, take risks. In 2008 I met someone through a group I was going to. There was an immediate mutual attraction, but we were just friends. When I realized I was beginning to have strong feelings for him. I told him that I cared about him while talking at a coffee shop. And all he said was, "I know and looked away." I immediately felt hurt and pretended that I didn't say anything as I changed the subject to something else. One night we talked and were going to meet at the group and he never told me he met somebody else. I found out during the group! I felt so alone and humiliated, but never said a word to him about it and I even managed to wish him well later on the phone. It never lasted between them, but he told me he just wanted to be friends, but I liked him so much that I did some ridiculous things to try to get him to like me in that way again. The problem was I couldn't even try to hold his hand. Because I was too afraid of being hurt like I was in other relationships. (Emotionally/Phys/ Sex)
We stayed friends for awhile, but my attraction to him was just too strong. One evening I called him, to invite him for New Year's Eve but he was busy and when he called the next day. I ignored his phone calls. A week later I called to see how he was and he refused to talk to me. The saddest part of this all is I still think about him and want to call him again... And I haven't been able to let anyone get close to me since...
As for girlfriends I had a good friend for 14 years and I began to make changes in my appearance and lost some weight. I met someone who was very attractive and she was jealous even though she was married. We would set up a time to go out and she never showed up twice! I talked to her about how I felt and she apologized, but when I told her some good news I had. She wasn't happy for me. It was at this point I realized she was never a "true" friend in the first place. As long as I had struggles in my life, and problems with my appearance she had no problem being my friend, but when I changed and life was getting easier. She had no time for me.
After that experience I started to take note of the people I chose for friends and why. And I've learned to listen to my true feelings when I first talk to someone, but these days it's even harder to find a good female friend...

April, 24 2015 at 6:38 am

I totally identify with this article. Thank you so much for posting it. It makes me feel less like an odd duck

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 24 2015 at 11:28 am

Hi Renita,
At HealthyPlace, we want everyone to know that they're not alone -- no odd ducks!

Dr Musli Ferati
October, 14 2013 at 11:05 pm

However, the ability to have got large social network indicates crucial mental health statement. Friends create our social status, whose maintenance seek satisfying capability of social skills. Each person has got different model of relationship. This fact renders more the type of ours relation with others, even they are our close friends. On the other hand, the connection with others strength our self-esteem, because social isolation exhibits many emotional suffers, with ruinous effect on psycho-social health. Therefore, it ought to make efforts friendship, through spontaneous active personal, professional and social performances. This life activity should be in accordance with socio-cultural features of social milieu where we life and work.

October, 9 2013 at 4:41 pm

I have always been afraid of getting too close because whenever it happened, I was hurt. Things are starting to change, but they are still not good enough. It's true that it's a mechanism to protect myself but also to protect others. I'm not only afraid to get close, but afraid of love in general, afraid to love and afraid of feeling loved. It's one of the most confusing feelings for me because it feels like a need that I refuse. The ones suffering most from that are my children. I keep them at a distance so that none of us hurt, but we are all hurting anyway. During the retreat you said Nikky is a hugger. I smiled and liked that because it kind of forced me to be one. It's something That still makes me so uncomfortable although I love it. Losing someone I love is my biggest fear. Loving someone can seem just as painful. I am learning to believe I can be loved. I am learning not to hide the love i have fir others, but the fear is still there, always.

October, 9 2013 at 1:39 pm

Jodi, this is great. It helps me see why I long to be close to people but am afraid to show my true self. I am afraid they will leave or not love me anymore or be disappointed or hurt me. So while I long to be close I also desire to be alone sometimes at the same time, probably when I should not be. Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 9 2013 at 1:53 pm

I understand, we all of us contradict ourselves and it's hard to see what is righ there in front of our nose.:) xo

October, 9 2013 at 11:39 am

Some people are just naturally introverted and comfortable being alone. So, most of the time, these people will deal with their inner turmoil by themselves.
And there is some truth to the notion that people generally do not like displays of vulnerability. Even good people will demonstrate this.
We ALL have pangs of loneliness from time to time - whether you have a mental illness or not. But it does pass.

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